I was hoping to see as many of you as possible through the roadshows. As we postponed them until the Autumn because of big demands on the force I want to give you an update around where we currently are and where the focus of our attention needs to be now.
When I became the Chief Constable I set out my vision for West Midlands Police of “Preventing Crime, protecting the public and helping those in need”. It’s fair to say a lot has happened in the world since then, much of which continues to reinforce the need for our vision and values. They are also factors that have made our task much harder. The recent attacks in London and Manchester demonstrate that our society faces a sustained and determined threat from terrorism. The pace and scale of the threat is unprecedented and is one that will not be going away anytime soon.
There has been a significant rise in demand recently which we are seeing across the country. During a recent weekend we took more 999 calls on Saturday and Sunday than any time in the past. For a short time we were taking them from other forces who reached capacity for a period. There isn’t one part of the force not feeling this strain be it PPU, CTU, Contact or Investigations.
While I am not blind to the stretch across the force at the moment there is a strong focus on locking down and getting on with the task at hand. Whilst it is right I challenge the funding of the force we still have 10,000 people and spend £524M of public money. Despite the great work there is a lot more we can do to drive down some of the demand on us.
There are in my view four critical areas for in the next few months:
I have an expectation leaders are investing their time in getting close to the business in their areas and looking actively at ways we can more effectively managed demand and reduce risk. Time to be very hands on and in the detail!
We carried out a promotions review because you felt the process was out of date. We will advertise promotion for every police rank after the summer with a more robust and transparent process.
Where we can recruit we will do it quickly: We are not looking to reduce staff this year. Instead we are actively recruiting into police officer and staff roles and you can see our plan around recruitment here.
Finally the People Deal is mainly delivered by local leaders not in POD. As we improve our performance I expect it to be delivered by working collaboratively with our staff.
Spit guards and TASER – I’ve talked previously about protective equipment and the need to give you the right tools. At our Force Exec meeting last week we agreed the plans for the new Taser and details of this will follow shortly and a public consultation event will take place at the end of July. Consultation around spit guards is happening fast time as we speak.
That’s our side of the People Deal. On the other side I was clear about what I wanted from you. Our new POD team has hit the ground running with an increased focus on capability and performance issues. We want to support those who need it and are performing well but I remain clear that where people are consistently underperforming and not committed to our organisation we will take action.
There is some superb work going on in the force at the moment. The last few weeks has seen a huge upsurge in affection for policing and there have been some terrific jobs of late by the force. Thank you for your hard work and your focus on the task in hand.