Have you been enjoying the weather? I confess I have a mixed reaction. As Chief I am never really off duty and the great weather at a personal level is lovely but it heralds increased demand on us.
We have stepped up some of our contingency planning to meet the demand that is hitting the force and indeed police forces across the country. We have a tendency to consider the demand on us as exceptional and indeed on some days it is. I am afraid, since really 2017 onwards, I have come to regard this as the upper end of normal. In a recent media interview, I described the impact on police forces in the summer is becoming a little like the NHS winter bed crisis. We back up on demand.
A few simultaneous issues have been focusing the Executive team.
There is a rise in homicide both in numbers but also the complexity of the cases. This has meant we have had to prioritise some secondments to support them. This impacts on other areas of FCID who are of course picking up the extra investigations.
Call handling is very busy with a rise in demand and 101 waiting times are now averaging around five minutes. Once the calls are in the system there is a resource pressure to deal with them and this has required us to ask more of NPUs in responding. The outstanding calls have been a particular challenge and hence why Operation Even Keel is being run to intensify work to clear these calls. On the PPU front, the reported domestic abuse cases continue to rise.
Of course putting more into responding does of course reduce our prevention work. I know NPUs are working hard to balance this but at this time of year it is inevitable responding has to be dialled up.
So where does that leave us? Next week the DCC will set out priorities for the next quarter at the Force Tactical Delivery Board.
We need to sustain the response to calls for service over the next few weeks. Trying to ensure we are as prompt as we can be, managing vulnerability in calls and keeping a focus on priorities and service. This includes arresting outstanding DA offenders.
The levels of youth and gang violence present a threat.Â Events at Wolverhampton are a clear priority as are issues in Birmingham.
A significant number of robberies and burglaries are driven by the desire to steal cars (13%). Thefts of vehicles have increased and our intelligence work shows that this is down to how the market for stolen vehicles has changed. Lots of factors need to change (some that are outside our control) but we are working on prevention and intervention as well as our investigation and enforcement activity.
Balancing these priorities are tough but we are introducing strategies to help. Since the 30 Day Challenge we have seen crime reporting on the website increase. Well done!
Next week we begin using webchat on the website and we will encourage callers to get off the phone and chat online with us for more routine calls. This will help. The field trials in response of new IT and digital statements is good and the arrival of PNC apps now means a huge chunk of transactions can be done on the street (DASH is done outside the building not in!).
I think we all recognise the police service is at absolute stretch and my national work on the spending review is to try to seek additional funding for our service.
Outside our local pressures I wanted to mention two other areas:
The mutual aid to the US Presidential Visit. I do not feel the last few weeks around Operation Manifold have reflected well on Chiefs. The decision to pay overnight allowance is one made by the force receiving mutual aid. I was of the view that allowance should be paid and was pleased that the gold commanders running the operation reached this conclusion.
Sadly the quality of accommodation for some officers, (about one PSU of WMP) in Essex was simply dreadful.Â It was a standard that should never have been offered and was quickly addressed by Essex Police with the support of the Police Federation. I am grateful for our WMP federationâ€™s work and also Supt Nick Rowe who went down to help sort this out.
Police officers will have seen the pay award announced yesterday. Two comments. Police Chiefs as your employers did recommend 2% as all they could afford as the money comes from local budgets (not extra from the government). I was part of that decision. Why? This year our budget rose by Â£9.5 million through a 10% rise on council tax. In cash terms thatâ€™s the second lowest rise per head of population of any force. A 2% pay rise for officers and staff amounts to Â£8m.
As an employer, I respect the Independent Pay Panelâ€™s right to assess evidence from staff associations, government and employers and make a decision. I am concerned that once again their independent recommendations have not been followed.
Finally quick fire updates â€¦
I enjoyed the National Police Bravery Awards this month with PCs Lee Jones and Richard Meed who were the WMP nominees who bravely disarmed a man armed with a gun. Well done guys.
It was touching to see PC Keith Palmer and PC Charlie Guenigault recognised for their bravery stopping terrorists as well as countless other brave officers. Every winner was very clear they did what any officer would have done. Without detracting from their actions, they are right. Luckily for the public!
Do you remember the big conversation we asked schools to begin over knife crime? I am delighted to see over 150 have engaged with this in a positive way. I have also seen many of you out engaging with the schools and young people. There is more work to follow with schools in the autumn but what a start!
Finally 1992. The year of Wayneâ€™s World, Euro Disney the Rodney King LA riots and â€˜I Will Always Love youâ€™ was a Whitney Houston hit. It was also the last time PC B 4339 Thompson of the Greater Manchester Police did the bleep test.
It was not without a little nerves and trepidation I returned to the gym to go again this week with a PST class!
Weâ€™ve been trialling a new fitness test and I wanted to see it for myself before we introduce any widespread change. Relieved to say I passed.
As you have done the test we have sought your views.Â They have been mixed and the introduction of the new test comes with quite a financial cost. Evaluation continues but for the meantime we will only continue the test for public order and specialist officers whilst we look at getting the right option moving forward.
If you are about to go on summer holidays have fun. For those of us working, I suspect it will be busy and we will be doing our best to meet public need, reduce crime and catch the bad guys.