Date: 31st August 2023
Chair: PCC John Campion
- John Campion – Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC)
- Marc Bayliss – Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner (DPCC)
- Charity Pearce – Policy Officer (CP)
- Nicola Lowery – Policy Officer (NL)
- Pippa Mills – Chief Constable (CC)
- Alex Murray – Deputy Chief Constable (DCC)
- Richard Cooper – Assistant Chief Constable (ACC Cooper)
- Grant Wills – Chief Superintendent (C/Supt)
1. Review of Action Tracker
Actions reviewed and progressed as per action tracker. The CC provided clarity regarding timescales for remaining open actions such as the social media product that is under development.
2. Chief Constable Assessment on Quarterly Performance
Safer West Mercia Plan and Budget Priorities
The CC gave a presentation on the Q1 23/24 Quarterly Performance Report (April – June 2023). The PCC had asked that the presentation focus on the following local priorities:
Q1 SMSR confidence survey results identified that more than 8 out of 10 say they have confidence in the force. The Crime Survey for England and Wales (year ending March 2023) places the force nationally in 15th highest with 55% of people aged 16 or over believing the police do an excellent or good job. The force is 14th highest at 47% in respondents’ perceptions on how the police deal with local concerns. The CC talked through the benefits of having access to the national comparative data as it demonstrates the national impact on local perceptions.
The aspirations of the force are to retain a high level of satisfaction and discussion took place on the activities that are taking place to address areas with low levels of satisfaction, such as the actions carried out by Safer Neighbourhood Teams (SNTs) locally. This work has resulted in a streamlining and focus of activity to ensure the force meet the aspirational stretch target of 88%.
The PCC sought assurance on public confidence data and expressed concern on the declining confidence data. Reassurance was provided on the investment by the PCC into SNTs as it was recognised that visibility and engagement is central to the Safer West Mercia Plan. Attention was also brought to the force’s engagement on communication, with confidence data indicating that the public know how they can contact the force when they need to.
The PCC raised concern that the model of policing may not be working in the way it was designed it to work. The PCC sought assurance how the model could be thought to be working correctly when key statistics are deteriorating.
The CC confirmed that retaining a high level of public confidence is testament to hard work across the force and that she is confident it is the right approach. Reference was made to the work being undertaken by the SNTs.
The DCC advised that contact nationally best predicts confidence locally. The force has changed their approach to high volume crime, such as shoplifting, as they recognise the impact of outcomes and detection rates on the public.
The PCC expressed concern that he has invested in a visible and accessible police force that, statistically is not delivering the anticipated impact on confidence in communities.
Non-emergency contact: 101 call handling performance and online crime reporting
In the absence of the ACC LP, C/Supt updated on 999 calls and call handling figures from April to July 2023. The C/Supt reiterated that the force is not where it aspires to be against local and national targets. It was discussed that demand for 999 calls has increased with June this year seeing the highest volume of 999 calls ever recorded. This included over 4000 accidental calls, which for context was over 700 this time last year.
It was advised that the demand increase of 999 calls has a direct correlation on 101 call handling performance, as it affects how resource is prioritised.
Call handling data was reviewed with the average time to answer being 2 minutes for 101 calls. 36% of 101 calls are being answered in 30 seconds. The 101 average wait time stood at 4 minutes and 31 seconds. An update was given on staffing and modelling preparations to answer 101 calls, as well as how the force uses their switch board to assess quality of call handling. The abandonment rate, which stands at 41.2% for 101 calls correlates to waiting time. It was suggested that positive abandonment could be attributed to over 3,500 calls moving to online crime recording. However, further investigative work is taking place on performance for 101 calls to understand abandonment data
The PCC asked how the CC is reassured of the level of call handling quality and how this is demonstrated to the public. It was confirmed that supervisors within the OCC (Operational Communications Centre) conduct dip sampling, in which 85% were assessed as good.
The PCC requested an overview of the CC’s assessment of the performance of public contact and call handling overall. The CC confirmed that overall, it was felt that the qualitative element was high. The investment in the OCC, resource being rolled out into the Contact Resolution Centre and speed of response has improved and placed the service in a good position.
(Victims Code of Practice) VCOP compliance
A presentation was provided on the latest VCOP statistics which recorded the latest progress as of July. The VCOP measure is broken down into different rights for victims. The force has seen improvements in several of the performance rights such as the number and proportion of cases that have been created with an initial victim needs assessment.
It was identified that there has been some deterioration in performance related to victims having particular needs, and victims being given a crime number.
The PCC highlighted the apparent disparity in local policing areas within West Mercia’s VCOP performance and identified that Telford seems to have reached a good consistency. The PCC sought reassurance from the CC that this could be replicated across West Mercia.
It was confirmed that local policing area data was reviewed through the force’s Victims Board; victims’ videos and that the victim’s voice was central to continuous professional development (CPD) training for all officers.
The DPCC wanted to better understand the barriers to victims feeling well informed. The CC acknowledged that this is victims’ experience and now it’s an aspiration for the force to agree a victim contract with them. However, contact will have to be balanced against workload of officers.
ACC Cooper acknowledged that victim satisfaction is challenging, particularly when communication can be impacted from continual change and waiting times, which can be dependent on officers awaiting external advice.
Road Safety- Killed and seriously injured.
A presentation on road safety was provided which confirmed that fatality numbers have risen to 28 from 25 (2022).
The force continues to focus efforts on enforcement and engagement on A roads. West Mercia has one of the highest numbers of A roads of any force. The force also uses their motorcycle team for covert enforcement and engagement as part of problem-solving plans.
Any other performance areas as determined by the Chief Constable.
The CC provided a presentation on performance of key crimes year-to-date (YTD; 1 April – 31st July 2023) and outcome proportion rates. It was noted that total recorded crime was down by 11%.
The DPCC noted that burglary and rape was down nearly 10%. It was queried whether this was due to crime recording changes, economic conditions, or other factors. The CC confirmed that national trends attribute this to an increase in cyber-crime with a lot of criminals exercising criminal activity online.
ACC Cooper confirmed that rape outcomes YTD is 10% which placed West Mercia as one of the highest performing force areas for outcomes. This should continue to improve particularly with the investment of 7 additional officers for rape and serious sexual offence investigations.
The DCC confirmed that shoplifting has seen an increase both nationally and locally and acknowledged that people that commit shoplifting tend to commit other crimes. It was acknowledged that this crime tends to effect confidence and that the force’s focus on tackling this could make a big difference. It was confirmed that the force is seeing an improvement in detection rates for shoplifting.
The PCC acknowledged the improvements across several crime types and reiterated the Government’s commitment to focussing on neighbourhood crime and the reassurance on public priorities.
3. Quarterly Update on Performance/Activity Related to the National Priorities for Policing
The PCC commissioned a report on performance against the national policing priorities. This was submitted by the CC prior to the meeting and had been reviewed by all attendees. The CC was asked to draw out key areas from the report, as summarised below.
- Homicide: There has been a spike in homicides with 4 murders YTD. This is still lower than when West Mercia was identified as an outlier. It was noted that the crime recording rules to declassify offences has an impact on resources when the force has a lot of homicide investigations. The PCC sought assurance on if near miss data was being utilised to prevent future homicides. It was advised that the force is using the high harm index to manage future offenders to make an impact on predictable homicides and that more can be done to improve prediction capability.
- Serious violence: The PCC acknowledged the sharp admissions increase in hospitals and questioned what this was attributed to. It was confirmed that this was an action with the Problem-Solving Hubs and that there was a plan in place to respond to the rise in admissions.
- Drugs supply and country lines: Reference was made to the HMICFRS initial feedback for Serious organised crime (SOC) to establish more information on the feedback.
An action agreed for ACC Cooper to share initial feedback from HMICFRS SOC feedback when it has been through the Chief Officer Meeting at the end of September 2023.
- Neighbourhood Crime: It was confirmed that vehicle crime data was higher than the force expected. The committed funding to help address this in conjunction with the Neighbourhood Crime Fighting Teams (NCFTs) will assist in the force combatting local issues and high-volume crime. It is anticipated that all NCFTs will be fully rolled out across West Mercia by the end of September.
- Satisfaction: The force is establishing a Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Independent Advisory Group (IAG) and has received some positive applications. This IAG will provide key feedback on serious sexual violence strategies. Discussion also took place on the benefits of the Domestic Abuse Risk Assessment (DARA) and the quality that this assessment is providing to officers in better identifying risk. The PCC expressed an interest in better understanding if the DARA has improved the victim’s experience and satisfaction.
4. Quarterly HMICFRS Update
The PCC commissioned a report on the HMICFRS “Vetting and Counter Corruption in West Mercia Police” report and the national “Misconduct, Misogyny and Vetting” report. Both were published in early November 2022.
The national Misconduct, Misogyny and Vetting report contained 43 recommendations and 5 Areas for Improvement (AFIs) for all forces.
The force’s update report was submitted by the CC prior to the meeting and had been reviewed by all attendees. The CC was asked to provide a brief assessment on the overall progress against the national AFIs and relevant national recommendations, as summarised below.
Reassurance was provided on the 5 AFIs. Discussions took place regarding AFI3 which focusses on a “cultural audit” to gauge and assess the scale of any misogynistic behaviour. It was confirmed that this is in a positive place.
One of the national recommendations (that supersedes a local AFI) focuses on reviewing all allegations related to prejudicial and improper behaviour within the last 3 years. 152 allegations require review in West Mercia, and this is in progress with independent oversight.
5. Summary of Actions Arising
NL provided a summary of the actions as set out above in bold.
7. Confirmation of next meeting type/date/time/venue
Thematic – Diversity, Equality and Inclusion
25.10.2023 – Allsopp Room