Last month you will have seen the update from the DCC on our performance on this year’s improvement plan. I am really pleased to see some good steps forward. The drop in burglary we are seeing is excellent, there are some good steps forward in other areas where we are preventing crime and ensuring a good response to the public. The focus this year is on working together to continue this good work, specifically on areas like robbery and violence among the under 25s.
The results sit behind some excellent work and I would call out this month the work behind the Operation Polygon series of offences against the elderly in the Black Country. The whole WMP team has come together to manage this threat. A number of men have been charged with offences.
I have had some enjoyable visits out in the force in the last few weeks. My visits to some of the covert policing areas in the ROCU helped me see the excellent work we are doing and the sense of a tight regional team developing. A visit to the Priorities Team in FCID showcased some great proactive operations.
I enjoyed a great visit to Dudley NPU that showed some excellent partnership work and made me reflect on our IOM work. I had a great shift with our Football Unit at Wolves v Bratislava, seeing the work of OSU and Force Support. I also met our new apprentices at the Response Professional Development Unit and their great tutor team.
These trips have reinforced my confidence in where we are now. Yes, there are challenges and some pressures but we are starting to move from a coping phase to one where we are making some big strides. As we keep the good work up for the rest of the performance year my mind is turning to 2020.
It is an important year with big opportunities.
It is the end of the WMP2020 programme as we know it (the clue is in the title!). The changes under the programme to modernise the force, but also meet the very demanding savings targets we faced, have dominated much of our work in the last four years. A busy year of implementing new technology is underway, which is planned to end with the Connect system in the summer. We will shortly be reminding you of the amount of things we have done under the programme, which we are often quick to forget in the busy world we live in.
In 2020 we will start to see the staffing injection kick in more clearly and fill many of our vacancies. We are bringing in new police staff and officers, and the officers start landing at pace next year. The new staff changes the position of the force as we are now contemplating where these investments will be made and will start growing police officers for the first time since 2009.
Finally, and importantly, we will see a new PCC join us with a new mandate from the public after elections in May next year.
It is time to start setting out how we will go about resetting the force’s direction as we need to refocus for the next three to five years.
In January 2016 when I became Chief Constable I set out a direction for the force through which we set our vision and values and reshaped our change programme. It is time to do that again but with some differences.
In early 2020 I intend to restate where WMP is now.
This won’t change the vision statement, our values, our leadership promise but we need to draw together a plan from the force that concentrates on the operational priorities, the areas we want to improve in the force and the areas where we need to be more radical and transform.
It will mark the start of a conversation with the force. One where we get your views and ideas on the issues we see ahead, some ideas on how we can meet these and also grasp opportunities and how we can involve you. These conversations will form part of the roadshows which we skipped in 2019 as the programme underway was intense.
This planning period will help us come together to focus on the next few years and start next financial year focused. It will also help support the new PCC with their ideas around the Police and Crime Plan which we will start forming after they are elected. This work renews the operational focus of the force and the democratic mandate of the PCC.
We have lots of work underway on MyTime , Control Works, Connect, Insight Search, the roll out of mobility and laptops.
We have an intense period ahead operationally but the time is coming for us all to consider what the future holds and how we get ready.