After the first month of this financial year there are lots of reasons to look forward this year!
In January we entered what is my third year as chief. If the first year was laying foundations with new vision, values and a new structure for the force then last year was stabilising and getting back on track. This year is about making big progressive strides.
What makes me so energised?
Firstly, persistent problems are starting to see progress. At times last year it seemed we were juggling challenges with answering our calls, getting to calls, gun crime and a rise in acquisitive crime. Dealing with the here and now challenges was distracting us from a more innovative preventative agenda. We have made progress!
Call handling is good. Our 999 service has the lowest rate of abandoned calls since at least 2014 with an average answer time now of six seconds. 101 is seeing average answer times of around two minutes. That is higher than in the past but today we are dealing with more calls there and then on the call. Around 70% of calls are dealt with there and then without being presented to dispatch. That is a good service offer.
Our response to calls is also encouraging. We have spent a bit of time reviewing our management of graded response, and we will make some changes to how we measure these grades, but attendance times are becoming more predictable. When we need to get there quickly we are, and in the areas where we do not, we are more reliable. Add to this our web traffic on crime recording is now between 2-3%. Oh, and call demand has fallen too.
Our gun crime is, and will remain, a challenge but the control being exercised by the force is now very strong. In March our firearms team deployed 199 times with authorities, recovered 24 weapons, (including 18 firearms) and ran 12 pre-planned operations. This has seen us reduce the discharges we saw last year.
Finally on acquisitive crime. We are seeing progress on burglary. Last year burglary dwelling was changed to include things like shed burglaries so it was quite hard to compare to previous years. We are now seeing a like-for-like comparison and we are making inroads. Theft of vehicles is still a big challenge but I am very satisfied that we now understand the complexity of what is going on with vehicle crime and are making strides. Project Monalee under Chief Supt Todd is leading this activity.
So what next? I said we need to make big progressive strides.
Prevent crime – Let’s keep the ball rolling on acquisitive crime. We are starting to make an impact but we’ve more wanted to people to arrest, more OCGs to target and persistent offenders to manage. Getting these crimes down will help reduce public concern. Tight crisp missions are being set.
We need to begin moving towards violence. The great prevention work we have begun with the Violence Prevention Alliance and the PCC’s Gangs and Violence Strategy needs to be industrialised. It is very in line with the Government Violence Strategy.
Finally repeat demand and locations that keep creating calls will need more problem solving this year. More on this to follow.
Protecting the Public – We have more work to do on the range of protecting services from domestic abuse to modern slavery. There are changes coming to PPU this year to enhance our service.
The summer told us terrorism is an ever present threat and we need to make strides on prevent and our collective preparedness.
The good work on organised crime needs stronger disruption. Pursue and arrest is good but more disruption and partnership work.
Helping those in need – We will be turning the spotlight now to satisfaction and confidence. Now we are starting to manage the volume, quality is our focus. We will start setting out expectations in how we deal with our public so that you and they are clear what our offer is. We want to offer good service and behaviour that instils confidence.
Caring about what the public are concerned about. Lots of engagement is going on but are we explicit enough that we are concentrating on the public’s priorities and what they are?
We want to grow the number of volunteers who are active in the community who help themselves. More active citizens!
All of this and more is now in the Ambition Plan. The Executive Team have each been tasked with leading these ambitions and they will be guesting on the blog over the next few weeks. You will also see WMP2020 is pushing out more apps, mobility and technology to help you. See the latest newsletter here.
Critical to all of this is you. This year more than ever I want your ideas and creativity to help decide how we meet our challenges. Instead of simply telling you what we are doing, this year is about getting your ideas and empowering you to solve these problems. I shall be setting out how we do this soon.
Finally. What will be your legacy this year? What will you or your team ensure is different and better by this time next year? Let’s be the best we, our team and our force can be this year. Time for ambition.