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‘We need re-investment in policing’ to avert crisis

  • Posted On 22 Mar 2018

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    An HMICFRS inspection which said the Force was ‘inadequate’ at protecting vulnerable people shows the cuts to policing budgets are putting people at risk according to the acting chair of West Midlands Police Federation.

    John Williams said the PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary Fire and Rescue Services showed the police service was under considerable strain and that the Government needed to act now to prevent a major crisis.

    “Thankfully, the Force was shown to be good in the three other areas covered by this report but this inadequate rating in such a crucial area of our work is very troubling,” says John.

    “Our members are working incredibly hard trying to cope with increased demand despite a significant drop in their numbers but there are only so many of them to go around and they are struggling to maintain an effective service to some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.

    “In addition, the strain of trying to do more with less is putting them under strain with more and more struggling with their mental wellbeing.  

    “The Force is doing its best but it is time the Government re-invested in policing to avert a crisis.”

    HMICFRS said the Force is:

    • ‘good’ at preventing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour
    • ‘good’ at investigating crime and reducing re-offending
    • ‘inadequate’ at protecting vulnerable people, and
    • ‘good’ at tackling serious and organised crime

    HM Inspector of Constabulary Wendy Williams said the Force had made progress in a number of areas since 2016 but there were serious failings in its ability to protect vulnerable people from harm.

    “Staff are generally good at identifying vulnerable people when they first contact the police but, at the time of our inspection, there were often not enough officers available to respond to incidents quickly when required. This means that victims – including some who are vulnerable – do not always receive the response they need, and may be put in danger as a result,” she explained.

    “It also means that in some cases the Force is missing opportunities to secure evidence, which can undermine the quality of subsequent investigations. Following our inspection, the Force immediately took steps to address these concerns and services have improved as a result.”

    The inspectors concluded the Force has the necessary arrangements in place to fulfil its national policing responsibilities, and to respond initially to an attack requiring an armed response.

    Nationally, inspectors highlighted that, while most forces were maintaining a good standard of service to the public, despite increases in demand and financial pressures, the cracks were starting to show.

    Ms Billingham said policing is ‘under significant stress’, explaining: “On occasion that stress stretches some forces to such an extent that they risk being unable to keep people safe in some very important areas of policing.”

    About a quarter of forces are often overwhelmed by the demand they face, leading to backlogs of emergency jobs, she said. HMICFRS also pointed to a shortfall of 5,000 investigators, echoing the Police Federation’s campaign launched last week to raise awareness of a crisis in detective policing.

    The Police Federation’s national chair Calum Macleod says the report shows policing is reaching ‘breaking point’.

    “The Government’s own inspector has said that some parts of the police service in the country are so stretched that people may be put in danger,” he said.

    “If this is not a wake-up call I don’t know what is. We cannot allow this situation to deteriorate to such an extent where people are routinely put a risk. That is unthinkable – but shockingly it seems – not unrealistic.”

    He added: “This independent report paints a desperate picture. It makes difficult reading for all and I hope the Prime Minister and Home Secretary will take action as soon as possible to ensure that the cracks don’t lead to irreparable breakages to this most vital public service.”

    Two of the 43 police forces were found to be ‘outstanding’ at crime prevention and four ‘outstanding’ in the way they tackle serious and organised crime. Only one force, Durham, was found to be ‘outstanding’ overall, with 30 forces being judged as ‘good’. No forces were found to be ‘inadequate’ overall.

     

    PEEL: police effectiveness 2017 – West Midlands Police

     

     
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