Having completed my first six months as ACC in WMP, I want to share some observations with you. I hope you enjoy reading my first blog.
I joined the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) in July 1986 and was involved in the transition to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) in 2001. My service has predominantly been operational and I have also been fortunate enough to do some international work. You can read my biography here.
After careful consideration, and lots of discussion with my husband and three kids aged 19, 16 and 13, I decided to leave PSNI for an opportunity with WMP. It was difficult to leave colleagues and friends in Northern Ireland (NI) for pastures new. It was an exciting and daunting time – learning a new job, new force, new people – while my family continues to live in NI and I continue to accumulate the air miles!
On the 1st June, I arrived at the office to a warm welcome from my Command team colleagues. My support staff had filled the diary and I was kept well and truly busy...
This is a short blog to address the uncertainty concerning funding.
This week, on either the 16th or 17th December, we will be told the government grant allocation for West Midlands Police for 2016-17. Two weeks ago we saw the Chancellor announce that police spending had been given “real terms” protection. We now know that he made this claim based on an assumption of council tax increases of the maximum amount allowed for each of the next four years. The Chancellor’s statement took us all by surprise as I honestly expected cuts of 25% over the next five years. We need to be cautious until we understand more.
Firstly, the protection is to overall police spending, not just on police forces like the West Midlands. As you can imagine post Paris there will be increased funding for firearms capability. Cybercrime and digital evidence also needs to be funded as does the replacement for Airwave. The funding reallocations into these areas will be taken from the grant before we receive our allocation.
Secondly, the police funding formula is going to be...
On the 11th September 2001 I was a superintendent in East Manchester. A colleague and I were stood on the building site of the Commonwealth Games Stadium, now Manchester City’s ground, planning out the Commonwealth Games. We got a call an aircraft had crashed into the World Trade Center. 9/11 began a seismic cycle of change that has shaped my career and policing since.
What had been a plan to manage a games and an opening ceremony operation to prevent Irish terrorism became a debate, and only that at that point, as to how suicide terrorism could be combated. Soon after the games I stood in a North Manchester hospital with an armed team managing the medical treatment of Kamel Bourgass who had only hours earlier stabbed DC Stephen Oake to death in the city. International terrorism had arrived in Manchester and in the following years in GMP I dealt with planned terror attacks at sports grounds, shopping centres and aviation security.
Since those times we have rapidly built a police counter terrorism security network which is the envy of...
After a short break covered by ACC Foulkes I thought it may perhaps be helpful this week to jump back in before the next blog by the team as there has been so much coverage of cuts.
This week has been a difficult one for police community support officers as we have confirmed that between now and 2020 we are planning on numbers being reduced from a current strength of 535 to 119 in the new WMP2020 neighbourhood model. The precise rate at which these numbers reduce will be determined as our future funding becomes clear. There are three points that need making on this subject:
Firstly, I am very sorry for PCSOs affected by this news. I am pleased we feel confident that a number of posts can be retained but this does not help people who now fear for their future. I think we all respect the service you are providing communities at this tough time.
Secondly, I want to be clear that we are retaining a strong neighbourhood policing offer in the 2020 model on police officers. The new Neighbourhood Policing Units that will replace LPUs are...
In the first of a series of guest posts, fellow command team member ACC Carl Foulkes has taken over the reins of DCC Thompson’s blog as he talks about the role he plays in WMP 2020, his wider portfolio and the tragic death of PC David Phillips in Merseyside.
If you have comments on the guest blog, don’t forget you can leave them in the comments section at the bottom of the post.
Assistant Chief Constable Carl Foulkes
I am sure a number of you logging onto what has historically been the DCC’s blog will be surprised to find my ramblings. Don’t worry – the DCC will be back but as a Command Team we thought you may want to hear another perspective of what’s currently affecting WMP. I won the honour as the first post-DCC blogger due to my vast experience (two previous cycle blogs) so please bear with me…
I want to start by reflecting on the sad death of PC David Phillips in Merseyside. The term police family is often used but what is clear is the death of this officer, husband and father while he was simply doing his...
I have not written a blog for a few weeks due to my leave and, of course, a pending interview I had.
Last week I was very pleased to be named as the preferred candidate to be the next Chief Constable of West Midlands Police. You may not quite understand what this means. I have been selected for the role by the Police and Crime Commissioner after a two day process.
At the next stage I will appear at a confirmation hearing of the West Midlands Police and Crime Panel who scrutinise the appointment and either confirm it or if two thirds oppose they can veto it. The panel is an important part of how the Police and Crime Commissioner is held to account for his decisions and that includes key appointments he makes. I am looking forward to the panel.
Because I have one last leg of the journey to go and because I am not due to start in the new role until the Chief retires in January I have said very little. I will offer just a little more.
Firstly, I am really pleased! I seem to have been subject to some speculation as to whether I...
This week West Midlands Police has been consistently in the news. We have been criticised for our actions and decisions in two high profile stories. I am always conscious that adverse headlines create difficulties for you. Friends, family and members of the public will have a strong view on what we have done and you are often left trying to explain actions you may not understand so I want to offer you my explanation.
It is important we recognise this is happening in a context where Police Chiefs and Staff Associations are trying to highlight how cuts of between 25-40% will serious alter how we carry out policing. It is inevitable there will be parts of the media who use this debate to question how we work.
Officers in Spain.
We were asked by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) to provide two officers to support a Spanish initiative by the Guardia Civil to keep British nationals safe when abroad. This is funded by and planned in conjunction with the NPCC and Foreign and Commonwealth...
Last week was dominated by the discussions the Chief Constable had with Police Community Support Officers. I do not wish to replay that discussion but we have been really keen to be open with people about the future. We have always recognised around 2,500 roles will be lost at West Midlands Police based upon the level of budget cuts predicted by the Office of Budget Responsibility. We had previously indicated PCSO numbers would fall at the same rate as officers and staff. That position is not going to be possible in the next five years; although we do not feel we can be clear on actual numbers yet. I know PCSOs are keen to have more information on this and we will provide it when we can do as I know these are real decisions affecting real people.
One reason for this is uncertainties over future funding so I thought I would explain a little how this works. As you may have seen in the media the Chancellor’s outline for the Autumn statement has asked non ring-fenced departments (this includes the Home...
There has been a little gap since the last blog. I have been busy writing a few others for external organisations as we try to influence the direction of the next parliament. Here is one I wrote for the Reform think tank on their report in policing.
There have actually been quite a few reports out on policing. Here are a few of the highlights:
I suspect these will all be thrown into the melting point for Police Reform as we have seen little of the next phase of the government’s change proposals yet. We have been looking at these to see how they impact on WMP2020.
I have two remaining limbs of the Blueprint to outline: Responding and Pace and Ready to Learn and Adapt. I am going to rush through these as we are now moving into a delivery phase which I want to discuss.
Responding at pace is quite simple. We are not yet quite as productive as we can be and that is not through a lack of effort!...
I am going to have a break from the operating model. Back to it next week.
Last week I watched an officer cry about policing. This was not at the Federation Conference. It was on the brilliant The Detectives on BBC2. The three episodes of this programme following GMP’s Sexual Offences Unit have been an excellent insight into officers’ work and victim’s experience in these traumatic offences.
If you have not seen the section, the officer has a suspect for a nasty stranger rape and gets a positive DNA hit that means he has got the right guy, the public are protected and a victim gets justice. It was a terrific example of the emotion and energy we put into our work. Policing is more than just a normal occupation. Police officers and staff work here because they know we have a just purpose; to serve and protect the public. If you do not get emotional about the people we serve then you are in the wrong job!
There are other emotions running in policing.
After five years of budget reductions there are frustrations with cuts, new...