Inspectors say Warwickshire Police '˜requires improvement'

Warwickshire Police force has been told it '˜requires improvement' after a recent inspection.

The HMIC PEEL Police Effectiveness report, published yesterday (February 18) found the force’s approach to responding to vulnerable missing children and assessing the risks to domestic abuse victims was not always consistent, although where risk and vulnerability has been correctly identified, the force’s response to victims was said to be good.

The report also found that the force needs to make improvements in how it understands and responds to serious and organised crime.

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Warwickshire Police was rated as good in two out of four categories being assessed and the Inspectors gave an overall grading of ‘requires improvement’.

Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Ball has welcomed the report which stated that Warwickshire Police is good at investigating crime and managing offenders and goes on to state that “the public feel can confident that the force is working well to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour, and keep people safe”.

Mr Ball said that the overall grading was ‘somewhat at odds’ with the tone of much of the content.

He said: “Clearly this report is something of a mixed bag because on the one had there is praise for the way in which the force investigates crime, manages offenders and protects people from harm, while on the other it finds some aspects that it feels need to be improved or should be done in a different way. Overall, the findings are helpful and I have raised and will continue to raise these issues with the Chief Constable while I remain in office. I am confident that they are being addressed but it is unfortunate that the overall grading given by the report is somewhat at odds with the tone of much of the content.

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“While nationally there may be concerns about an erosion of neighbourhood policing, in Warwickshire we have a strong record of ensuring that Safer Neighbourhood Teams are able to concentrate on their role of preventing crime and anti-social behaviour in their communities. As their report makes clear, HMIC found good evidence that PCSOs and neighbourhood officers are rarely abstracted from their roles. Warwickshire Police and its alliance partner West Mercia Police have also led the way nationally in terms of recruiting new officers and ensuring the front line is strengthened.

“In a number of areas work to improve the force’s way of working was already under way at the time of the inspection and is now progressing well. As an example, the Warwickshire Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) is due to launch in May and, while this will initially focus on vulnerable young people, it will be expanded to cover vulnerable adults later in the year. I have been the major advocate for this to be set up and I believe it will build upon what the HMIC report notes as the ‘encouraging start in ensuring the force is adequately prepared to tackle child sexual exploitation’.”

Mr Ball continued: “The report does however raise the need for the force to ensure there is a more consistent approach to the way it responds to vulnerable missing children – particularly those in care – and how it assesses the risks to victims of domestic abuse. While it is good that HMIC has found that vulnerable victims are generally well-supported, clearly this needs to happen on every occasion. The force will need to take into account the recommendations made by HMIC to see if improvements can be made.

“The inspectors also raised concerns relating to Warwickshire Police’s response to serious and organised crime. We are fortunate in Warwickshire that we face significantly smaller problems with serious and organised crime than forces in larger metropolitan areas, but there is clearly a need to improve our understanding and information sharing processes.

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“There is a programme of work now under way to significantly strengthen the force’s approach. I have instigated the creation of a Serious and Organised Crime Joint Action Group, which will incorporate the police and a broad range of partners and will look to address all of the concerns raised in the report. I will be opening the first meeting later this month and will emphasise the priority that I feel this piece of work requires.”