His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has today (Thursday 22 September) published its latest inspection of Staffordshire Police under the Police Efficiency, Effectiveness and Legitimacy (PEEL) programme.
The report rates Staffordshire Police as ‘inadequate’ in its ability to respond to the public, investigate crime and manage offenders and suspects. It further rates the force as requiring improvement in a number of other areas, while rating it as adequate in its ability to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour. Within the report, HMICFRS makes a number of recommendations of what the force needs to do to improve its performance.
In his response to the report, Chief Constable Chris Noble, said: “I fully accept the findings of the HMICFRS’ PEEL report and I am committed to addressing its recommendations. We are already well under way with these improvements, a fact recognised by the Inspectorate.
“This report will be concerning for Staffordshire residents but we have specific and clear plans to deliver the standard of service our communities expect and deserve. This will not be an easy journey and it will take time to embed and fully realise improvements – but it is one I and my staff are fully committed to.
“Policing, because of COVID and pressures on other agencies, has become more complex and demanding since the last PEEL inspection and our officers and staff are operating under increasingly challenging circumstances. Despite this, they remain dedicated to providing a service which secures a safe and confident Staffordshire. They are, however, under pressure and alongside improving the service to the public I am also focused on supporting my staff and giving them the tools and time to do their job.
“Despite these challenges, the most recent national crime data shows that Staffordshire Police remains one of the safest places in the country, with one of the lowest levels of crime recorded out of all 43 forces. But, we want to make it the safest.
“In order to achieve this, we launched our new local policing model in June of this year. This has increased the number of officers based in local communities, meaning we can respond more quickly to emergencies.
“Our response teams are now based at the same local police stations as neighbourhood officers, working more closely together and with other local agencies to problem solve the issues that really matter to our communities.
“In other changes, we are bringing together the teams that investigate our most serious crimes, such as serious violence and sexual assault, which will allow us to provide a more consistent service for victims of these crimes and other vulnerable people.
“As part of our return to a local policing approach, we have launched a bespoke operation which will see us put policing back on the front foot in Staffordshire – executing warrants, arresting suspects, delivering appropriate stop and search and patrolling visibly in our local towns and cities. Our local commanders will keep you updated on what this looks like in your area.
“We have not waited for the HMICFRS report to land. In anticipation of its recommendations and findings, we have invested in our Force Contact Centre, recruiting significant numbers of additional staff to help reduce wait times on 999 and 101 calls. We are starting to see call waiting times reduce, at a time when all contact centres across the country are under huge pressure.
“To focus everyone in Staffordshire Police on making the required improvements, we have recently launched a new Policing Plan which clearly sets out our plan of work for the next 12 months. This is closely aligned to the delivery of the Commissioner’s Police and Crime Plan and was developed with our own staff.
“Whilst the PEEL report outlines a number of areas of improvement, it also contains some examples of positive practice across the force. Examples include:
- We work with partners to prevent crime, identify the root cause of problems and support the rehabilitation of offenders
- The force provides continuing safeguarding support for vulnerable people and officers are confident in assessing vulnerability during the initial response and know the process for supporting vulnerable people
- Officers understand the standards of behaviour expected and they feel confident to report any incidents and have a number of ways to report unacceptable behaviour.
“The ‘Engage’ phase of HMICFRS monitoring provides us with a positive opportunity to be supported by HMICFRS and other national policing bodies and enables us to regularly share our progress on the areas for improvement.
“Staffordshire Police has a proud and recent history of being one of the best performing forces in the country – my staff are clear that they intend to be back in that place. They want to be proud of the service they deliver to their communities.
“I am regularly held to account on our improvement plan by the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, Ben Adams, but I will also keep you all regularly updated on the progress we are making.”
Staffordshire Commissioner for Police, Fire & Rescue and Crime, Ben Adams said: “As Commissioner, I understand that this report will make concerning reading, but Staffordshire is one of the safest places to live, work and visit, with the lowest crime in the West Midlands and the lowest out of its most similar forces.
“There is still work to be done to bring some fundamental police services up to the standards people expect and deserve. I am greatly reassured that a lot has changed within the force since this inspection in January 2022.
“In December, I recruited a new Chief Constable, Chris Noble, from another force where he was part of a team that brought about rapid improvement. I’ve been impressed by the hard work of officers and staff to improve service delivery, driven by the Chief Constable’s new policing plan and closely aligned to the priorities in my Police & Crime Plan.
“I’m encouraged to see the new local policing model, introduced at the end of June, is already making a difference. With more officers based in our communities, the force is able to respond to calls for service more quickly, and spend more time working with partners to address the issues that matter to people.
“There is also a focus on improvements within the force contact centre, recruiting additional staff to reduce waiting times on 999 and 101 calls – a key priority for me as Commissioner, and the people of Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.
“As a result of this work, significant progress has already been made to address the areas requiring improvement, which is recognised in the inspectors’ report. They also praise the force for its work in preventing crime, safeguarding vulnerable people and understanding the standards of behaviour expected of officers.
“I will be closely monitoring the force’s performance over the coming months to ensure this momentum is maintained to keep our communities safe.”