Report praise for West Midlands Police

Force rated ‘Outstanding’ for cutting crime whilst cutting costs.

West Midlands Police has been rated “outstanding” by national police watchdogs for making almost £150-million in savings whilst cutting crime and keeping a high profile in communities.

A report published today by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary found West Midlands Police is on track to achieve its required savings of £146 million over the government’s spending review period from 2010 to 2015.

It is one of just five forces nationally said to be making outstanding progress and pointed to the recent private sector partnership with global industry leaders Accenture as an example of how the force is innovating to save money whilst improving service levels.

Inspectors concluded the financial cuts haven’t stopped the force focusing on preventative policing − highlighting its efforts to disrupt organised criminality and tightly manager known offenders − or meeting its emergency response times.

And it congratulated moves to identify savings from its fleet, facilities and property portfolio whilst introducing two new call centre hubs and state-of-the-art custody ‘super suites’ in Sandwell and Perry Barr.

Chief Constable Chris Sims, said: “We’ve worked hard to identify and implement savings whilst at the same time protecting front line crime-fighting capacity, maintaining police visibility in our communities and reducing crime rates. Recorded crime fell by 18 per cent from 2010 to 2014 compared to the national average reduction of 14 per cent.

“The government’s spending review required us to save almost £150-million between 2010 and 2015. It’s been a huge challenge but one we’ve met head on…and our communities have been at the heart of every decision we’ve taken during the process. It’s satisfying HMIC has recognised the force’s efforts but there will be no resting on laurels. We’ve just signed a ground-breaking private sector partnership with global industry leaders Accenture that promises to revolutionise the way the public can access police services and we will continue looking for ways to improve our service to the public.”

HMIC has tracked police forces’ response to budget cuts since summer 2011, using force data and inspection visits to analyse how they are making savings and the impact on staffing levels and the service they provide to their communities.

In the West Midlands, officer numbers have fallen from 7,966 in March 2010 to an estimated 6,555 in 2015 − but the proportion deployed in front-line policing roles, in neighbourhoods or tackling crime, remains steady at more than 90 per cent.

HMIC’s report added that the force had clear plans in place to achieve the £68-million in savings required from 2014-16 and that the Accenture partnership was expected to achieve savings of £121m over five years.

The Accenture deal will focus on improved information sharing with the public, new channels of accessing police services − like online crime reporting and tracking − and joint working with partners like councils and health services.

Regional HM Inspector of Constabulary Dru Sharpling, said: “West Midlands Police faces a difficult challenge because its funding reduction is above that required of most other forces.

“However, it is delivering the savings currently required whilst planning for the future…it has a comprehensive, well-managed change programme in place to deliver savings.

“HMIC was reassured by the level of detail that underpins West Midlands’ saving plans…and reassured by the leadership team’s ability and determination to deliver future change in partnership with the private sector, while fighting crime and keeping its communities safe.”

West Midlands Police stood alongside Avon & Somerset, Norfolk, Lancashire and Staffordshire Police to be rated ‘Outstanding’ in the HMIC report.