Guest blog by DCC Louisa Rolfe
Deputy Chief Constable Louisa Rolfe
Having recently changed jobs and moved house I feel like life is generally one step ahead of me at the moment.Â I do feel so much happier being closer to work and feel much more a part of West Mids now.Â However, seeing my children in new school uniforms makes me realise how much theyâ€™ve grown right under my nose.Â I guess Iâ€™ve been just a little pre-occupiedâ€¦
I had a great time at Birmingham Pride a couple of weekends ago, such fun was had by all!Â I was hugely impressed by the policing operation.Â Events in Orlando this week have horrified us all and my thoughts are with those mourning loved ones across in the US.
At home in West Midlands Police we have been very busy making plans, initially to help us deliver the policing services our communities deserve and rightly expect, while saving nearly a quarter of our budget and, more recently, to reassess those plans since learning that such severe cuts are no longer required.
In policing nearly 90 per cent of our budget pays for our people so reduced funding inevitably means fewer of us.Â Since 2010 we have lost 3000 colleagues, mostly through retirement and securing other employment.Â This time last year we thought we would have to shrink by another 25 per cent.Â The settlement was not as bad as predicted, and while we are facing real terms cuts they are not as bad as was budgeted or feared. While we now have some more money than anticipated, it takes time for the reassurance of job security and active recruitment to catch up and we are potentially still at risk of further cuts if the formula used by the government to allocate our funding changes during an upcoming review.
When I arrived here I was struck by the fabulous mix of very traditional and very modern (our 2020 change programme is cutting edge, transformational and exploits the digital age). WMP2020 was devised to help us to shrink further yet still be ambitious to get ahead of our day to day policing demands as we strive to prevent crime, protect the public and help those in need.
Themes of intervention and prevention are evident across the programme. When we learnt that funding cuts would not be so severe, we looked again at every project.Â While our overall aims remain relevant, we have taken the opportunity to recalibrate our new structures and teams to be a little less lean, to invest in areas where we know demand is growing and to invest in support to reduce the disruption of change.
While we are busy preparing and planning, the day to day business of policing goes on.Â We know the summer is a busy time for us and we have some gaps that canâ€™t wait until our new ways of working are in place.Â We are therefore seeking to fill some gaps in our support functions with temporary staff.Â This will enable us to keep officers and staff in key operational roles, visible and available to our communities.Â It will also ensure we can rapidly and professionally deliver the projects that best support our officers and staff in their day to day roles.Â Using a specialist agency means we can do this quickly.Â We can rapidly build our capacity in a broad range of areas from investigations and learning to IT support.
Temporary staff for this summer period, and through intensive delivery of our change programme, will prove more cost effective in the longer term than taking in permanent staff to deal with short term challenges.Â This is over and above our agreed permanent recruitment plans. With the Police and Crime Commissionerâ€™s support we are advertising 140 temporary roles between now and March 2017.Â Many other forces do this successfully so there is much we can learn from elsewhere.Â Again, in line with the PCC and his plan and as we stabilise our establishment, we will see recruitment of officers and staff become part of our business as usual activity. We will let staff, officers and PCSOs know more about business as usual recruitment as soon as plans are finalised. At the same time we would welcome interest from substantive police constables who may be considering transferring from another force.
In addition, we will be keeping a close eye upon how we are coping with the anticipated increase in calls for service over the summer.Â Â Every local policing unit has drawn up plans and, as an Executive Team, weâ€™ll be looking at what else we might do and checking in through our daily tasking processes.Â In summary, we recognise that the challenges and demands of real life are faced every day by our committed officers and staff, and, however ambitious our plans for the future, we must never neglect the here and now.