The number at the top of this blog may strike you as a little odd.
This is the number of files the force has moved from its legacy computer systems into Connect. Pieces of data from various systems that we had to pick up and transfer into our new operating system in a way we can access and use them. Ever tried to transfer the address book from one phone to another? Not easy, and you can see why this has been such a huge project. Technology is a little bit like an iceberg; those of us using the system only see the tip and not the huge complexity below the waterline.
I make these points as this last week has been a seismic change for West Midlands Police. We have never before had a fully integrated operational policing system. Over the years, we have grafted pieces together with loose ends and compromises. With so many systems involved, some would age and become sick and replacement was not a choice. Some systems were at end of life. Today, the force has the UK’s most modern operational system.
Looking back even fourteen months ago, it is hard to imagine we would ever see the events of 2020. Our world has changed so much.
For some this has been a dreadful year of tragedy. We mourn those we have lost within our own West Midlands Police family and today think of those who have died in our communities. We are looking forward to enjoying a brighter future that sees us meeting up with family and friends again.
This year has also been inspiring in so many ways. The miracle of science that has created the vaccination programme, the tireless work of NHS staff and those in care homes. Acts of kindness across communities.
Our own work has been outstanding. The preparation for mass fatalities saw us work with partners to create the largest temporary mortuary in the country from scratch. The work of our community deaths teams earlier in the year was remarkable. The quality of coordination with partners and, of course, the tireless work of all of you in enforcing the COVID...
The tragic murder of Sarah Everard this week has had a seismic impact on society and policing. The circumstances of her death and the occupation of the man charged with her murder has stunned all of us.
There are so many issues from this case but I want to discuss the two most pressing.
The events on Clapham Common have brought into sharp focus the difficulties of balancing freedom to assemble and protest with the substantial restrictions that have been passed by Parliament to manage the public health crisis.
The police cannot work with organisers to facilitate a gathering that is unlawful under the COVID legislation; it would be a serious breach of our role. I believe people who feel the police should have done this at the weekend are wrong. The rules have varied during the pandemic but are very clear and parliament has restricted gatherings to prevent infections of COVID.
You will see we advised local groups we could not do this which led to events being cancelled in...
One of the areas we have talked about in the “This Work Matters” strategy is Precision Policing. We want to develop this concept to blend evidence based policing, our data capability with our need to be efficient in using resources and ensure communities are policed fairly. This requires us to be smart in understanding problems, setting objectives and ensuring resources are used well.
I mention this as I was thinking about this as I reached the final leg of my Connect Learning Journey this week and looked at the new Proactive Management Plans (PMP). Connect is critical to Precision Policing.
Yes – I have a Connect training journey of 19 lessons and around 8 hours! Connect is a huge change for WMP and everyone needs to understand it. This is critical for leaders. Some of you may have heard me say we need digital leaders not analogue managers. Leaders have core roles in Connect, but also need to understand how to exploit it to improve our policing and help all staff with new ways of working.
Last week I found myself at home self-isolating after testing positive for COVID. I am fortunate my symptoms were very mild at what remains a tragic and troubling time and am glad to be back at work.
On Monday night we were all touched by the bravery of Keon Lincoln’s mum and sister as they led our appeal for help as we continue the investigation into his murder. We are committed to helping them secure justice.
Serious youth violence is not new. Last week we saw four young men sent to prison for the ferociously violent murder of Keelan Wilson in Wolverhampton in 2018. We have seen some awful crimes in Coventry, Birmingham and across our region and the country involving children and adolescents.
Murders have been committed following the slightest dispute. The level of violence in many cases has been extreme. The lack of any consideration of the...
I am writing this blog on the 7th January and it is already an extraordinary start to the year.
January is in some ways a little bit of a blue month after the excesses of Christmas and as the days are their darkest. We have lacked excess this year and the dramatic swing in infections from COVID is sobering. I think we can all agree we are entering a very difficult few weeks now with the new strain of the disease.
This comes at the very moment vaccinations emerged and so the hope of an end has been dampened by the sense of a punishing few months ahead.
A few thoughts from me:
On New Year’s Eve I joined OSU staff on Operation Reliance and saw first-hand what I would describe as the hard grind of COVID enforcement. It is tough relentlessly dealing with people who don’t see why they need to follow the rules. I was deeply concerned by some of the parties I saw and the health risk they create, specifically to us. I am supportive of the need for government to consider public facing roles in policing for early...
Last week the Chancellor announced a one year spending review. Governments generally like to set out their spending plans over a four year period. We have not been in this position now for just over three years which makes planning quite challenging. The COVID health and economic emergency and the Brexit deal make longer term planning quite hard.
The main headline you may have noticed was the pay freeze which will affect all staff earning more than £24K. I know how incredibly hard you have been working this year as part of the COVID emergency. I do recognise this has been a health-led emergency and how health service staff are rewarded is important. Carving out groups is difficult and divisive. A pay freeze is a pay cut in real terms and I am disappointed at this outcome for you all. Incremental progression is unaffected.
The announcement continued the commitment to the Police Uplift Programme. The force will have more than 500 additional officers by March 2021. The amount recruited...
Policing fights short battles not long wars. I said this in a message a few months ago when talking about COVID. The rush of the March emergency has lapsed into a weariness across society.
I am sure, like me, you are feeling quite tired of the restrictions we are all living with especially as we go in to autumn. A greyer period in the seasons, and probably in life, this year it is vital as a service we are there for the public. So:
Keep up the social distancing and safeguards in and out of work. Becoming exposed means two weeks without leaving home and a big impact at work.
We have set out sustainable arrangements for WMP to operate that are in line with government guidance.
Thank you for the great work in helping the public follow the rules.
COVID is not the only issue we are facing and I wanted to flag up some highlights for me over the last few weeks:
Your Voice Matters. Our staff survey is out. Its quick to do and it is so important. It really does help me to get your feedback and we got so much...
My September challenge is to try and ensure in exceptional times West Midlands Police does not lose a year in making progress on our vision of preventing crime, protecting the public and helping those in need through the “This work matters” strategy.
Some of you may admire my optimism given the challenges we are dealing with so let us start there!
The need to dial up our work on COVID restrictions is now very pressing given the global and local upturn in infections. This time of course there is no lockdown and we are very busy with normal demand. The good news is the multi-agency team in each local area is on a better footing. We have a much better picture on where infection risk is highest, though the quality of this is reliant on testing information.
We have been very successful under Operation Reliant on dealing with large gatherings. We are now trying to focus on gatherings of six and facemasks in key areas like public transport. When you are out and about please challenge and use the 4E’s...
Next week I am having a week at home. I am not going on holiday but the break is really welcomed. The last few months have been demanding. I suspect I am not alone in feeling a little tired. I hope you are taking some time off across the summer as you deserve a break. Sadly it will not be a holiday this year for most of us.
March seems a lifetime ago. We began with huge staff absences as people self-isolated. The lockdown was keenly followed by the public and as staff came back we were very proactive during Operation Inglenook tackling drug dealers and gangs. We moved from this stage into the George Floyd related protests and some very real challenges to police legitimacy and race at a time of considerable pressure. Demands for police service started to return alongside the significant uplift in domestic abuse and harassment.
The public followed the lockdown better than any of us could have imagined. Today communities are tired of the restrictions and feeling the impact. I have always said the public will...