West Midlands Police slammed for failing to protect vulnerable people
West Midlands Police has been blasted for failing to protect vulnerable people from harm in a damning official report.
The force was given a third tier rating of 'requires improvement' for its overall effectiveness by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), dropping down a grade from last year.
The report found that at the time of the inspection:
- WMP was among the worst in the country for responding to 999 calls
- The force failed to identify a suspect in more than six out of ten investigations
- Vulnerable victims were being put at risk by slow response times
- The force had 2,400 'open' crime logs
- Only one in eight crimes resulted in a suspect being charged
- Risk assessments for domestic abuse offences were 37 per cent below the national average
Inspectors found' serious failings' in WMP's ability to protect vulnerable people, giving the force the lowest possible rating of 'inadequate'.
The report said there was often a lack of available officers to respond to incidents quickly enough, meaning victims may be put in danger.
The force was missing chances to secure evidence as a result, the report added, which could undermine the quality of investigations.
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It was noted that following the inspection WMP had taken steps to address these concerns and HMICFRS say services have improved as a result.
HMICFRS also identified room for improvement in the way the force categorises people as missing or absent, and in the initial investigation of missing persons cases.
While WMP’s approach to safeguarding was rated ‘good’, a lack of resources meant it is not always carried out quickly enough.
The report recognised that many of these issues emerged due to a period of extreme demand in the West Midlands last summer, when it was regularly experiencing the same pressure as it did on New Year’s Eve.
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The force received a ‘good’ grade for tackling serious and organised crime.
In 2016 it was also ranked 'good' for preventing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour and for investigating crime and reducing reoffending.
Deputy Chief Constable Louisa Rolfe said she was 'disappointed' with the force’s final grade, adding that it has acted on HMICFRS’s feedback.
"When a force with an intensive policing need, graded as highly efficient and with below national levels of funding, is struggling to manage its demand then there is an obvious inference to be drawn on resources,” she said.
“It is unfortunate that this inspection focused more on the scale of demand rather than why it was challenging to manage.
“As always we will continue to improve and, as demand has fallen, we have made significant improvements in this area that will help us over the summer.”
Crime went up across the region by 14 per cent in the year up to June 2017, with huge spikes in violent crime, weapons offences and burglary.
HMICFRS carry out annual assessments judging all 43 police forces in England and Wales for effectiveness.