Agendas, Meetings and Minutes - Agenda item

Agenda item

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) Inspection Report: PEEL Police Effectiveness 2017: An Inspection of West Mercia Police


In March 2018, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) published its inspection findings into Police Effectiveness as part of its annual rolling programme of inspections on the efficiency, effectiveness and legitimacy of police forces within England and Wales (PEEL).  A Report was published for each force alongside a National one.  A copy of the West Mercia Inspection Report was circulated with the Agenda.


The PEEL Inspection Reports provided a judgement grade of ‘outstanding’, ‘good’ ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’.  Each force was given an overall grading as well as individual grades for each of the key areas which were subject to inspection in that year.  The overall grading for West Mercia in the latest report was ‘requires improvement’. The table below provided a summary of the grading for each area within the Inspection.


Inspection area



Preventing crime and ASB/ keeping people safe

Requires improvement

Investigating crime/managing offenders


Protecting vulnerable people/ supporting victims

Requires Improvement

Tackling serious and organised crime


Specialist capabilities



Requires improvement

*This area was inspected as part of the 2016 inspection


The PCC advised the Panel that he and the Chief Constable were disappointed with the overall grading, particularly in respect of tackling serious and organised crime and a copy of the letter that he had sent to the Home Secretary was included in the Agenda for the Panel's reference.  The letter set out the PCC's observations and actions on each of the areas raised by HMICFRS for improvement. Beneath these actions were clear plans and targets for improvement.


The PCC explained that he recognised and accepted the failings identified and now had a greater confidence that that there was a focus on the key areas. The PCC was continuing to hold the Chief Constable to account for the activity the Force was taking in response to the areas identified for further improvement and had changed the approach to the holding to account process and had also appointed specific points of contact for the Action Plan.


At the time of the Inspection, the West Mercia Police and Warwickshire Police Alliance was undergoing a leadership review and had since appointed a shared Assistant Chief Constable with direct responsibility for shared functions across the Alliance.  The New Assistant Chief Constable had the delivery of policing of serious and organised crime as a priority.


The Chief Constable outlined the background to the PEEL Inspection process and how serious and organised crime (which was one element of this), fitted into the process. West Mercia Police wasn’t in the position it would have wanted to be in respect of this area but the Chief Constable was mindful that the Force was doing a lot of good work, but unfortunately not able to demonstrate and evidence this in a consistent way.  There was now a West Mercia Improvement Plan in place which addressed all of the areas identified for improvement by the HMICFRS.


The Chief Constable highlighted the importance of recognising that the central Leadership Strategy, although a good Strategy wasn’t working at an operational level for the Alliance due to the differing operational needs of the two Police Forces.  As mentioned earlier, the new shared Assistant Constable with direct responsibility for shared functions had been appointed to rectify this.


During the discussion, the following main points were made:


·       It was noted that HMICFRS had inspected the two Forces (West Mercia and Warwickshire) as an Alliance but had then given separate gradings.  In future, it had been agreed with the Her Majesty's Inspectors (HMI's) that there would be separate Inspections. This would enable the differences in scale of operation between the two forces to be taken into account and more accurately reflected

·       In response to the concern raised about the lack of succession planning in West Mercia Police, the PCC explained that the Inspection covered only a small part of a very complex business not the organisation as a whole.  Succession planning was an area of investment but it was worth noting that there was a limited supply of officers interested in police leadership

·       In the area of Improve Service to Vulnerable People around Delayed Attendance and Reassessment of Risk, an Action Plan to deal with un-resourced incidents had been introduced.  This would ensure that all incidents were managed appropriately and dealt with in a timely manner. It was confirmed that the Operational Control Room Supervisors carried out the assessment of these cases

·       It was confirmed that the Safer Neighbourhood Teams in West Mercia were being protected and PCSO numbers would remain the same with recruitment as necessary to fill vacancies.  West Mercia Police were also working with the College of Policing and Durham Police to develop a new problem solving approach

·       In order to meet the demand of local communities, there would be a greater emphasis on a more bespoke service with greater flexibility,  rather than a one size fits all approach

·       It was noted that detection rates in West Mercia weren't in line with crime reporting and although it was important for these rates to increase, it should not be at expense of the victim's wishes

·       There were currently 240 PCSO's, which the PCC assured the Panel would remain a constant  throughout his tenure

·       A concern was raised about the impact of the Inspection on PCC's reputation, particularly in respect of the applications for Judicial Review (JR) of the fire governance decision.  The PCC pointed out that the applications for the JR were from Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service and Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service and not a JR of the PCC.  The JR would consider how the decision was made not the outcome of the decision.  The PCC was however, concerned about the wider reputational element of the situation and would hope not to be judged on how the situation was but how the Service had improved

·       It was confirmed that the areas for inspection were decided by HMICFRS, who would then disengage, when they were content with progress made.  It was likely that the next stage of the process may be known by October

·       The next formal Inspection would be January 2019 and it was possible to have a 3 year period where an area wasn't examined

·       As a result of the Force's inability to clarify how it monitored the actions officers and staff took when responding to domestic abuse incidents and how it assessed the effectiveness of its response, a new ICT system was being introduced imminently to improve interpretation of data. The point was made that it if there was confidence in the IT, this would free up valuable resources currently being spent on data assurance. The Panel would like an update on this system in 6 months' time

·       It was suggested that it would be helpful if position statements were prepared for all 14 potential areas of inspection in readiness for any future HMICFRS Inspection. The PCC advised that this was the aim but was not yet complete and robust enough.  The point was made that it would be helpful to know where in each of the bands grades each assessment was which would allow the PCC to gauge performance more accurately.


It was agreed the Panel would receive an update on progress against the Action Plan and ICT system for data interpretation in November 2018.


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