Warwickshire’s police and crime commissioner admits that the break-up of the alliance between West Mercia and the county’s police force has been a factor in a below-par HMICFRS inspection.
Three areas of police work were deemed to require improvement - investigating crime, responding to the public and managing offenders - with five others rated adequate. None were categorised as outstanding, good or inadequate.
In her report, HM Inspector of Constabulary Wendy Williams concluded: “Until the force has the right people with the right skills in the right place and improves its capacity, capability and effectiveness in the areas of investigations, vulnerability and neighbourhoods, it won’t be able to effectively reduce crime.”
Speaking at this week’s [THU] Warwickshire police and crime panel, commissioner Phillip Seccombe said he was disappointed but not surprised by the report.
He said: “I am aware that the three areas requiring improvement are important parts of policing. I was disappointed and was looking for an improvement - we think it is about the same as the previous one [report].
“There are comments about us still adjusting to being a standalone force having come out of the alliance with West Mercia which have brought some interesting problems, both operational and financial which we are sorting out.
“I have been through it with the chief constable and I think that the force recognises that absolute improvement is required. We need to be registering ‘good’ gradings as we go forward.
“We are in the middle of changing the whole structure of the force and I believe that some of these comments in the report will be addressed. For example, there will be more resource going into investigating crime and hopefully some improvement in responding to the public.
“We have to accept that this is an independent report but I don’t think it is telling us anything that we didn’t know already and that there is plenty of work to be done.”
Mr Seccombe pointed out to the panel, made up of county and district councillors and two independent members, that six police forces were put into special measures following their inspections.
He added: “We are somewhere in the middle of the pack. Coming out of the alliance was a huge shake-up for the force. When the split came, in some areas there was a lack of experience within Warwickshire Police where work had been done by West Mercia. It has been a pretty steep learning curve.”
Warwickshire Police faces a hefty fine if it fails to have 1,100 officers in position by the end of March which has prompted a strategy of looking ‘outside the box’ according to Mr Seccombe.