West Midlands Police chief constable: Inspection grade completely down to call backlog
West Midlands Chief Constable Dave Thompson says the PEEL report grade has caused him 'a great deal of personal upset'. Here's his take on the report.
I need to say straight away that a grade like this on the inspection actually causes me a great deal of personal upset, writes Chief Constable David Thompson.
The inspection says WMP has improved.
There has been some great work to continue our improvement on organised crime and vulnerability.
I take my hat off specifically to PPU and Locate with clear improvements on how we are managing areas we set out to improve.
The inspection grade is completely due to the call backlog we experienced during and after the summer.
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West Midlands Police was not alone in this experience and our grading is due to concerns over how we were managing vulnerability within these calls.
I have been around long enough to know complaining about HMIC inspections always looks like sour grapes.
I have real issues with the logic and sample size that drove this grade. However, backlogs we did have!
However the big question for me is wider than this.
West Midlands Police has the youngest population of any police force, the second most diverse and the highest amount of its population living in the top 20 per cent deprived neighbourhoods of any force.
Our population is also growing at above average levels.
We have a great deal more vulnerability than other forces. We are now funded at a level below the national average. We have income now £20m a year lower than Greater Manchester Police, our most similar force, with a similar area but smaller population.
Our budget has gone down by 28 per cent since 2010, the biggest reduction in policing.
The 10 per cent rise in local taxation residents are paying this year results in one of the lowest percentage funding rises and the second lowest per head of population.
We are consistently rated by HMIC as having outstanding financial planning and are one of the top forces for efficiency.
Should the question be how West Midlands was managing its backlog, or is the real question why one of the most efficient forces in the country, with some of the highest policing need and diminishing funding had a backlog?
As always our collective determination to deliver for the public will push us on and steps have already been taken on escalation and log closure doctrine, (the backlog was more about closure than outstanding calls) but we should be under no illusion we are having to run harder and faster than many other forces.
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