Chief constable says ‘organisational changes’ are being made following HMICFRS inspection
Warwickshire Police Chief Constable Debbie Tedds says “organisational changes” will be in place by next spring following an inspection by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS).
“This will ensure that we have the right people in the right place with the right skills,” she said, after the inspectorate found the force needs to improve how it investigates crime, responds to the public and manages offenders.
HMICFRS also graded Warwickshire Police as only ‘adequate’ at preventing crime, its treatment of the public, protecting vulnerable people, developing a positive workplace and making good use of resources.
HM Inspector Wendy Williams said while she was “satisfied” with several aspects of the performance of Warwickshire Police in keeping people safe and reducing crime, there were areas where the force needs to improve.
In particular, she said the force needs to improve how it identifies victims’ vulnerability at first point of contact.
“Warwickshire Police is missing opportunities to safeguard vulnerable people,” said Ms Williams.
“It needs to improve how it assesses calls from the public, so that vulnerable people and repeat callers are routinely identified. And it needs to do better at consistently giving advice to people about preventing crime and preserving evidence when they contact the force.”
She added that the force needs to make sure that it carries out effective investigations, giving victims the support they need.
“Despite the force’s efforts to improve how it investigates crime, too many of its serious investigations aren’t supervised well enough and aren’t effective enough,” said Ms Williams. “This is resulting in a poor service to some victims of crime.
“The force doesn’t always pursue evidence-led prosecutions where appropriate. And it doesn’t always follow the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime or give enough support to victims by assessing their needs accurately.”
She said the force needs to make sure that it has “the right people in the right place with the right skills”.
“Although the force has invested substantially in its information technology (IT) infrastructure, which it hopes will improve its efficiency and effectiveness, we found that staff are being moved from critical areas of work to manage demand, and that some teams were under-resourced and without the specialist skills needed to perform their role,” said Ms Williams.
“The force needs to optimise the benefits of its IT programme and make sure there is sufficient capacity, capability and supervisory oversight in teams that manage offenders and outstanding suspects, especially those who pose the highest risk of harm to the public.
“Warwickshire Police has recently reviewed its operating model. Its investments in managing vulnerability are aimed at helping the force respond to threat, harm and risk more effectively, enabling it to give a better service to the public.
“It has been necessary for the force to revise its infrastructure at the same time as making changes to its systems.
“Tthis year the force has transformed its approach to IT, exemplified by the introduction of a new control room. Although at the time of our inspection it was too early to assess the benefits of these changes, the scale and pace of this transformation shouldn’t be underestimated.
“And the strategic plans the force has put, and is putting, in place give cause for optimism. But the plans must be carefully reviewed. We look forward to seeing the progress of the force’s plans.”
The chief constable said they welcomed the independent scrutiny by HMICFRS and were pleased that it was “optimistic about our direction of travel”.
“The recommendations for improvement are very helpful, and they are areas we are already committed to addressing,” said Ms Tedds.
“Organisational changes will ensure by spring 2023 that we have the right people in the right place with the right skills.
“We’re committed to maximising the ongoing investments we have and need to continue to make in IT to ensure we use our innovative new technological capacity and capability to serve the public as effectively and efficiently as we can.”
She added: “New investigation teams will mean we can improve investigation of lower level but high-volume crimes that negatively impact people’s lives.
“We should also be in a positive position to investigate specialised incidents – improving our services to victims without impacting our capacity for community engagement and resolution of community issues.
“Investment in protective services, prevention resources and provision for domestic abuse, rape, serious sexual offences, child exploitation and abuse, trafficking and exploitation will enable us to more effectively prevent crime and safeguard vulnerable people.
“Whilst there are improvements we must and will make, the report reflects the effectiveness of our strategic planning and performance framework, and our positive inclusive culture.
“We are in an extremely strong position for the future to further improve how we prevent and reduce crime and protect people from harm.”
Warwickshire’s police and crime commissioner Philip Seccombe said the inspection findings “did not come as a surprise”.
He commented: “Warwickshire residents want to know that their police force is well-run, provides effective policing and can be relied on to protect people from harm.
“That’s why I welcome the PEEL report by the independent police inspectorate, as its findings are helpful in shining a light on what the force does well and what needs to improve.
“The latest report describes a complex picture in which there is much good work being carried out across the county, at a time of rising demand from the public and against a backdrop of rapid change and transformation.
“It also shows the areas in which Warwickshire Police needs to do better; for example, how it identifies the vulnerability of victims at the first point of contact and how it then ensures that the right support and advice is then put in place.
“It also must improve how effective its investigations are and how they are supervised, ensuring it has the right people in the right place at the right time.”
Mr Seccombe added: “These inspection findings do not come as a surprise and reflect the analysis my own office undertakes, as well as some of the concerns that the public raise with me.
“I have held the chief constable to account on these issues and so they are already recognised by the senior leadership of Warwickshire Police.
“As a result, I can provide reassurance that the force has detailed programmes both planned and already under way to improve its overall performance.
“These plans have been described as a cause for optimism by the inspectors but clearly it will be important to understand how effective these changes are. I will be going through the inspection report carefully with the force in the weeks and months to come to make sure that the improvements required are being delivered.
“I have also ensured that the chief constable has the right resources to deliver an improved service, by growing the workforce through the recruitment of additional police officers and making other investments to support the front line.
“I am pleased to see this recognised by the inspectorate, which finds that the force makes best use of its finances, with plans that are both ambitious and sustainable. This reflects my determination to deliver value for money for the taxpayer through a good and balanced budget and sound financial planning.
“The ingredients for future success are clearly there and while change is never easy, I know that everyone at Warwickshire Police remains deeply committed to further improving the service delivered to the public.
“Achieving this must be the number one priority and remains absolutely fundamental to increasing confidence in policing.”