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Staffordshire served early warning by HMI over performance

Staffordshire has been given an early ‘serious concerns’ warning by HM inspectorate.

Staffordshire has been ordered to improve performance or face 'escalation' after serious concerns were raised over call handling and crime investigations.

HM Inspectorate issued an Accelerated Causes of Concern notice on the force after an inspection in January identified serious shortcomings in call handling triage and how investigations are supervised.

The force was told to address seven recommendations or face further action as it is “putting public safety at risk”.

Chief Constable Chris Noble, who was only confirmed in the role in October last year, said his force was already addressing the issues raised in the assessment.

He added that the force’s problems had been exasperated by the need for “increasing officer numbers, coping with the impact of the pandemic and picking up demand from other under pressure organisations”.

Changes include a return to a local policing model driven by the new Uplift intake.

HMI warned Staffordshire is failing to properly identify and assess victims’ vulnerability when they first contact the police.

Investigations are not being managed properly with potential lines of inquiry not being followed up.

HM Inspector Wendy Williams said: “We have serious concerns about two aspects of Staffordshire Police’s performance, which are putting public safety at risk.

“We found that the force is failing properly to identify and assess victims’ vulnerability when they first contact the police. Repeat victims are not always identified, along with others in the household who may also be vulnerable, which means this is not taken into account when considering the response the victim should have. Calls are not always responded to in a timely way.”

She added: “In some cases, investigations were not carried out in a timely manner and relevant and proportionate lines of inquiry were not always completed. Many investigations were not properly reviewed by supervisors, and victims were sometimes not updated throughout investigations.”

The force will now be monitored for improvements from seven changes:

CC Noble made clear that the force – and its Police and Crime Commissioner - had already been aware of the performance issues and improvement work will be stepped up.

He admitted that his own staff had been among those to vent their frustrations: “They regularly tell me how frustrated they feel when they sense that they, we, are letting victims down.”

Among the changes will be an overhaul of the force’s control centre.

He said: “I recently announced that we had undertaken a large-scale review of our local policing model - the results of which will see significant changes to how we deliver policing in local communities and for victims of crime.

“We are investing in hundreds more officers in our frontline response teams and going from three hubs to ten local bases to ensure we get to victims and our communities faster and have more time to spend when we are there to investigate crime and care for victims,” he said.

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