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Wiltshire latest force to be subject to HMIC special measures

Wiltshire has been formally confirmed as a failing force by HMI. Domestic violence work is described as 'unacceptable'.

Wiltshire has joined the Engage process after being warned by inspectors it is failing in several areas and urgent improvements must be made.

The force was ‘inadequate’ in three areas and ‘requires improvement’ in the other five areas.

HMI said the inadequate areas included how the force responds to the public, how it protects vulnerable people plus strategic planning and value for money.

There was heavy criticism for the way it deals with domestic violence cases.

HM Inspector Wendy Williams said: "Some domestic abuse victims have received an unacceptable level of service and have continued to remain at risk." 

The force joins the Metropolitan Police, Staffordshire, Greater Manchester, Gloucestershire and Cleveland which are all working with an improvement team that includes HMI and the College of Policing.

It also means one in seven forces are now rated as failing.

The verdict is a blow to Chief Constable Kier Pritchard who was appointed in 2018 and led the response to the Salisbury poisonings.

And the announcement is a fresh headache for Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Wilkinson who was elected in August 2021 in a re-run because previous candidate had a drink-drive conviction and had to stand down.

But Mr Wilkinson has already said he won’t be moving to replace the Chief Constable.

"My position is clear – I have confidence in my Chief Constable to deliver any necessary changes highlighted in next week’s report. Working together, we have developed, and put in place, remedial plans to answer concerns highlighted,” he told local media.

“Together we will ensure the necessary resources to provide reforms and improvements to satisfy the inspectorate as well as Wiltshire’s residents.”

The force must work to improve how it uses data to analyse crime and its neighbourhood teams need to develop their ability to problem solve.

HM Inspector Wendy Williams said: “I have serious concerns about Wiltshire Police’s performance, particularly how it responds to the public, protects vulnerable people and makes use of its resources.”

She added: “The force is missing opportunities to protect vulnerable and repeat victims of crime. It needs to improve the way it manages victims’ calls, so that all vulnerable people are identified.

"The force is not supervising investigations well enough and doesn’t always follow all investigative opportunities.”

At the other end of the scale, Cheshire had a more positive outcome.

The force was rated good in three areas including preventing crime and treating the public well. The force was adequate in investigating crime and use of resources.

It uses problem solving well to address neighbourhood crime and anti-social behaviour.

But it must improve call responses and the management of some registered sex offenders.

HM Inspector Matt Parr said he had confidence the force would improve: “I am satisfied with most other aspects of the constabulary’s performance, national recognition for its inclusive workplace.

“It offers a range of support where it is needed. It is also seeking to attract a more diverse workforce. Numbers of officers from ethnic minority backgrounds are increasing, which is good news as the workforce,” he said.

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