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West Midlands needs resources to handle demands, says HMIC

Britain’s second-biggest police force needs more resources to meet rising demand, HMI has warned.

West Midlands Police doesn’t have the resources needed to protect the public and must improve vetting, the police inspectorate has warned.

HM Inspectorate rated the force good in five areas but warned it required improvement in three – and that could only happen by increasing capacity and budgets.

The force needs to improve work on investigating crime, supporting victims and protecting vulnerable people.

West Midlands was rated for its work in disrupting organised crime, preventing crime and recording data.

The review comes just weeks before the Home Office introduces performance scorecards.

But the PEEL inspection also warned that to improve performance it needed more than just procedural changes.

HM Inspector Wendy Williams said the force “can’t meet the demand for its services in protecting vulnerable people with the resources it has”.

West Midlands Police also needs to improve its management of sex offenders and crucially meet national guidance on vetting.

Concerns were also raised on the health of response officers. The control team are good at identifying the issues involved with calls but frontline officers are at the limit.  

HMI said: “The routine use of overtime to manage this demand puts pressure on their wellbeing.”

Capacity issues are a constant theme throughout the report.

Wendy Williams said: “The force must improve how it carries out proportionate, thorough and prompt investigations into reported crimes. It lacks capacity in its investigation teams and investigations aren’t always overseen effectively, so it is less likely that there will be a satisfactory result for the victim.”

The force's political leader made clear how bad the funding pressures on the force are - and that it wasn't due to money being wasted.

Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster, said: “The inspectors also found that West Midlands Police is efficient and well run. Taxpayers should therefore be assured that good use is being made of the resources that the force has.

“West Midlands Police faces high levels of high harm crimes, yet funding per head is lower than for many other areas, with far fewer threats.  That is why I have called on MPs and leaders across our region to come together with a single, united voice to seek a fair funding deal for the West Midlands."

He added that the Uplift recruitment programme wouldn't deliver the gains his force needed.

“West Midlands Police has endured a decade of cuts which forced it to reduce its police officer numbers by 2,221. That was 25% of our police offices," he said.

"Whilst we are due to receive a net increase of 1,200 police officers by 2023, that will still leave the Force with a shortfall of 1,000 police officers. This report, and the recommendations it makes, should be read in that context.”

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