This week some of you will have seen the Police and Crime Commissioner has extended my fixed term appointment until January 2023. Chiefs are appointed on five year initial terms and an extension can be granted for a maximum period of three years.
I am pleased to be staying on with you in our amazing force for longer and supporting a new Police and Crime Commissioner. It is an exciting time with City of Culture and Commonwealth Games and I want to ensure both are a success and we use the new technology and people we have arriving to make an even bigger impact on crime.
For now we are already busy completing WMP 2020 and concentrating on cutting crime.
Firstly, on WMP 2020. We have agreed as an Executive Team to implement ControlWorks as the new Command and Control system on the 26th February. This is a huge moment as we have had Oasis for 25 years and there is a huge exercise in transferring markers and plugging in new systems to this kit.
This is not a change without demands, risk and stress. I am encouraged as I go round contact centres that this is seen as a much overdue change and the new system is a good step forward. My advice is hit the training materials and get ready as we are at the point of go! Newsbeat here (WMP staff only) gives you more information on where we are on this project.
I need to just update on My Time. What I thought would be bumps in the road are more fundamental. There is a gold group under Director of People Nicola Price to ensure we address the issues the system is causing us.
We are starting to see backlog requests again and we need to support colleagues in shared services who are working hard to get on top of this. Some parts of the system we are getting dialled in to meet our needs. Some bits will be done differently than we are used to and others need a software change.
So far this has not been a leap forward and we are reeling from a few steps backward. We are working to get this right. IT changes are never easy but stick with us, we will get this right. Thank you for your patience as I know we have made some people’s jobs much harder than they should be.
However other areas surge ahead. We just cleared the 1 million mark on the PNC App. Our 150 mobile ID units have done 2,664 checks and we will now roll out an additional 400 units into the force. Mira Books should arrive in this month, allowing us to release digital MG11. We have 6,600 mobility devices now in teams across WMP. A further six digital mobile phone examination kiosks roll out to Wolverhampton, Willenhall, West Bromwich, Bloxwich, Brierley Hill and Solihull in the next six weeks.
Operationally the surge of youth violence has been on show with the terrible murder of Babacar Diagne. Coventry is an area of significant focus at the moment. So too is reducing the vulnerability of young people. Babacar was a child and the risk of violence or the risk of exploitation of young people is a huge challenge and we need to ensure we are always alert to the vulnerability of the young.
You may have seen last week a report by HMICFRS that questioned whether the public were giving up on the police’s ability to investigate volume acquisitive crime. I was disappointed by the tone HMICFRS took in its media but it is worth pointing a few facts out and looking at where we are:
As long as I have been in the police people tend to believe the crime figures when they go up as evidence of things getting worse and when they go down its because people have given up reporting. We are generally pessimistic on crime!
Firstly, the British Crime Survey actually shows reporting for volume acquisitive crime is very stable. There is no evidence people have stopped reporting. Our call data supports this. I do not pretend the service is not stretched.
Secondly, a drive on crime recording standards is no longer evidence of crime in the area of sexual offences and less serious violence going up. We are recording more than ever. Indeed the crime survey suggests the public are reporting and we are recording more but the level of some of these violent crimes may be falling.
Finally on detection rates. These are much lower than a few years back across the country. As you know with crime recording standards in areas like violence without injury, we record a significant level of crime that will never be detected as victims do not want police action. Also what gets to court relies on the CPS, who have resource challenges too.
That said I think the point the inspectorate makes is valid and if detection is too low, it hits public confidence. So where is WMP? Here are some areas compared between WMP and our most similar force group. (A set of forces HMICFRS say have similar challenges that is GMP, West Yorks and Merseyside). This group is important as you cannot compare a force policing a complex urban area like ours with more rural areas.
We are generally in the top one or two forces in the comparison group and we are improving. That is a good place to be but we need to continue to do better. The position on rape is frankly poor and is subject of some very intense work between the police and the public.
Finally we are getting into a very political phase locally. We will soon have mayoral and PCC elections underway.
I urge you to be sensible on social media in how you express your views. Police officers are obliged to be non-political and I advise you to avoid joining in any debate on social media on candidates’ views. Police staff are not restricted in this way but are restricted on WMP social media accounts.
I expect people to recognise WMP’s strength: we’re seen as independent. During the pre-election publicity period, just before the elections, we will make it very clear on what you can and cannot do.