Staffordshire Police's commitment to improving its response to the public and its investigations
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As part of planned inspection activity, Staffordshire Police underwent an inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) at the start of January 2022.
As a result of this, two areas of particular concern were notified to the force. The first in the area of carrying out effective investigations and appropriate ongoing support for victims, and the second in relation to identifying and assessing the vulnerabilities of those who contact Staffordshire Police.
Chief Constable Chris Noble has responded to these concerns:
“I recognise and acknowledge the shortcomings identified by HMICFRS and the concerns raised with me about specific areas of our service. They are areas I am personally concerned about, and have been for some time, and I feel it is important I bring them to the public’s attention.
“The first concern relates to conducting effective investigations, and ensuring that we aren’t just dealing with and investigating the reported crime, but also supporting victims and keeping them updated throughout the criminal justice process.
“The second is in respect of our handling of calls and requests for service from the public. In particular, the early investigative actions we take when the public first contact us to ensure we understand victims’ vulnerabilities and victims’ needs.
“I take these concerns very seriously and I want to give my personal assurances to the people of Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent that we are already taking action swiftly and comprehensively to address these. Me and my staff know we must perform better in these areas and the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner has recently levelled the same challenge on our Public Performance Meeting and has stated he will continue to do so. Whilst we have been working hard to drive improvements in our service in these, and indeed, other areas – we must and will do more.
“I recently announced that we had undertaken a large-scale review of our local policing model - the results of which will see significant changes to how we deliver policing in local communities and for victims of crime. We are investing in hundreds more officers in our frontline response teams and going from three hubs to ten local bases to ensure we get to victims and our communities faster and have more time to spend when we are there to investigate crime and care for victims. These changes will also see an enhancement to our existing functions within the force Contact and Control Centre, so we can protect the vulnerable as soon as they contact us for support.
“These fundamental changes to how we do policing in Staffordshire go to the heart of the challenges understood by our Commissioner and the Inspectorate. However, we are not simply waiting for that new model to land. In the interim, we are implementing well-developed plans to improve our service in the areas of public contact and investigations - these will now be further accelerated to ensure improvement is seen quickly and sustainably. These draw on best practice from other forces, on feedback from victims and the public, and also our own staff who are passionate about delivering the best possible service they can. They regularly tell me how frustrated they feel when they sense that they, we, are letting victims down.
“I expect to be held to account over these matters, not only by the inspectorate, but also by you, the public. As I have previously noted the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner is already aware of, and is currently holding me to account on these and other matters, and the next Public Performance Meeting will go through these challenges in further detail. That public scrutiny is important.
“Of course, there are relevant challenges for policing in increasing officer numbers, coping with the impact of the pandemic and picking up demand from other under pressure organisations. However, my responsibility as Chief Constable is to deliver the outstanding local policing service that the people of Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent expect, pay for and deserve. Our focus in these areas will be sustained and I will keep you updated on our progress.”
Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Ben Adams added: “As Commissioner, I was fully aware of the issues raised by HMICFRS thanks to the regular performance meetings I hold with the force. These issues partially formed the basis for my recently launched police and crime plan which provides the strategic direction for the force over the next three years.
“Work to translate this strategic plan into a series of improvement activities linked to the force’s new operating model has already begun which will address these problems head on.
“I understand the frustration that some fundamental police services are not up to the standards the people of Staffordshire expect and deserve. People expect calls to be answered quickly, for the police to respond rapidly and to deal effectively with problems in their area.
“I share these frustrations and aim to rebuild public confidence by rebalancing the essential activities needed to protect vulnerable people within our community.
“Since being elected in May 2021, I have seen officers and staff working incredibly hard to improve the service. I have recruited a new Chief Constable from outside the force to help accelerate change and ensure improvements to the force’s call handling and investigation functions. The increase in officers that we will see in Staffordshire in the next two years will help us to do just that.
“Whilst progress has been made, I recognise the need to move quickly to address the issues driving these failings.”