Date: Monday 5th June 2023
Chair: PCC John Campion
- John Campion, Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC)
- Marc Bayliss, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner (DPCC)
- Charity Pearce, Policy Officer (PO)
- Natasha Noorbakhsh, Senior Policy Officer (SPO)
- Pippa Mills, Chief Constable (CC)
- Alex Murray, Deputy Chief Constable (DCC)
- Richard Cooper, Assistant Chief Constable (ACC Cooper)
- Rachel Jones, Assistant Chief Constable (ACC Jones)
- Richard Muirhead, Director of Commercial Services (DCS)
- Matt Stiff (Observer), Head of Strategy, Planning and Insight (MS)
Quarter 4 Performance -2023/24 Meeting Notes
1. Review of Action Tracker
Actions reviewed and progressed as per action tracker. The CC provided clarity regarding timescales for remaining open actions.
2. Welcome / Introductions
The PCC welcomed attendees to the first Assurance & Accountability (A&A meeting) following the Holding to Account review. The PCC provided an overview of the changes that had been implemented from the review and the intended benefits for the force and the public.
The PCC reiterated his thanks for the information produced to meet the terms of reference / agenda he set. It was confirmed that it is for the CC to determine the content and format of the papers submitted to A&A. The PCC confirmed the CC could utilise existing products.
3. Chief Constable Assessment on Quarterly Performance
Safer West Mercia Plan and Budget Priorities
The CC gave a presentation on the Q4 Quarterly Performance Report (Jan – Mar 2023). The PCC had asked that the presentation focus on the following local priorities:
- Outcome Rates
Improved performance in relation to action taken outcomes was welcomed. The action taken rate peaked in March 2023 (12% action taken rate), improving West Mercia’s position compared to most similar group (MSG) forces. Performance has improved across a range of crime types. There remains significant variation in performance across local policing areas (LPAs). Most of the improvement activity in place is force-wide, however best practice across LPAs, as well as MSG forces is identified and shared.
The proportion of offences finalised via outcome 16 (OC16; evidential difficulties; suspect identified, victim does not (or withdraws) support for police action) has gradually reduced. The force still uses this outcome more frequently than MSG forces. A recent audit showed the outcome code is being used appropriately but more work is required to ensure the rationale is recorded. Based on data for Q1 2023 it is anticipated that the next MSG release will show West Mercia’s use of OC16 falling below the MSG average. The improvement is linked to training and the introduction of Quality Investigation Sergeants.
- Response Times
Median response times for grade 1 and grade 2 incidents has improved over the quarter for total recorded crime (TRC), acquisitive crime and domestic abuse (DA). There is still a disparity in response times for DA incidents compared to acquisitive crime incidents. The attendees discussed the possible impact of 2 new force policies on response times (Contact Resolution Centre, Most Appropriate Agency, (MAA)). It is too early to quantify the impact of MAA on demand; however Humberside Police (an early adopter) saw a reduction of a third of demand. This will be monitored over time. ACC Jones observed that the CRC policy is anticipated to have a bigger impact on demand than MAA.
- Unresourced Incidents
As of 3rd April 2023, an updated process for grading incidents came into place to better manage demand. This has resulted in a decrease in unresourced grade 2 incidents compared to the previous month and the same period last year. Strategy, Planning and Insight (SPI) review unresourced incidents 4 times a day.
- Any Other Performance Areas as Determined by the CC
The CC provided an overview of additional performance areas as summarised below:
Satisfaction: Victim satisfaction remains a strategic priority, as reflected by focus through several forums including Victims’ Board, Force Delivery Group and the Monthly Performance Monitoring Boards. The CC’s ambition remains to improve satisfaction across crime types, particularly violent crime
From next quarter, the force is amending the methodology for reporting on satisfaction. Action: CC to share rationale for change in victim satisfaction reporting practices referenced in presentation.
The disparity in performance across LPAs was discussed. It is acknowledged that disparities are linked to wider performance trends and crime profiles across the areas. The force identifies and shares innovative practice across LPAs to drive continuous improvements.
Crime Volumes: Whilst there was a 9% increase in TRC in 22/23, crime rates in West Mercia remain low. The latest ONS data (to Dec-22) shows West Mercia Police has the 9th lowest crime rate in the country. There has been a positive start to 2023/24 (Apr – Jun 23) with a 10% reduction in TRC compared to the same period last year, driven in part by reductions in violence with injury (-7%) and vehicle crime (-7%). The CC has an aspiration to reduce crime, with clear targets around positive outcomes for different crime types.
Domestic Violence Protection Notice (DVPNs) / Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs): There has been a significant increase in use of DVPNs and DVPOs, with volumes in March 2023 the highest recorded in 2 years. The CC anticipates further improvements in the use of powers following investment in an operational lawyer. The PCC was pleased with the direction of travel but noted that use remains relatively low compared to total domestic violence offences. Action: CC to update on ‘what good looks like’ in terms of volumes of DVPNs and DVPOs.
Call Handling: Despite a sustained increase in demand via 999, the force has maintained the target of answering 90% of 999 calls within 10 seconds. This is the result of significant work in the call centre focused on people and processes. ACC Jones is chairing a weekly meeting to understand ongoing telephony issues. The PCC welcomed this focus. The PCC raised 101 performance and public expectations regarding accessibility. The meeting chaired by ACC Jones will review 101 data to ensure reporting is accurately reflecting performance.
Public Confidence: More than 8 out of 10 members of the public say they have confidence in West Mercia Police. Despite this positive performance, the PCC and DPCC raised the reduction in those who see an officer or PCSO at least weekly. This trend is not understood as there has been a significant uplift in police officers in communities over the last 3 years. The PCC reiterated the importance of police visibility in driving public confidence. Improvements are anticipated through previous uplift in the Safer Neighbourhood Teams, the Local Policing Charter, technological improvements through Neighbourhood Matters, and ongoing PCC investments across communities.
Victims’ Code: The force has developed their own local metrics to measure compliance, prior to the launch of the national performance framework. Positive progress has been made across several code requirements including cases created with an initial victim needs assessment and provision of mandatory updates. The metrics will be further reviewed in light of the Victims’ Strategic Needs Assessment commissioned by the PCC.
Serious Organised Crime (SOC): There was a considerable increase in SOC disruptions in Q4 (77) compared to the previous quarter (35). This is related to a significant operation that took place. The PCC and CC acknowledged that more needed to be done to ensure the public are aware of the good work happening in communities. This should improve following investment in Community Safety Engagement Officers.
4. 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.
More homicides were recorded overall in 2022/2023 (21), than 2021/2022 (19). 33% of all homicides are DA related. Nationally West Mercia remains in the upper quartile however, it is likely that this is in part due to recording practices. Previous offences have been reviewed to ensure the data is accurate. The homicide prevention framework has been reviewed and no significant shortcomings identified, however more can be done to focus on a cohort of potential victims / suspects.
- Serious Violence:
The force are utilising victim and offender data to inform partnership working via the Serious Violence Duty. The CC provided examples of prevention / intervention activity undertaken by the force including focused deterrence, hot spot policing, and initiatives under Op Sceptre. Attendees discussed the use of diversionary referrals for violent offences which remain low across the force. Significant work is underway to prepare for impending systems changes. This includes discussions with the PCC’s office regarding funding to support implementation across LPAs.
- County Lines (CLs)
In May 2023, the Government set out a clear expectation in the 10 year drug strategy outcome framework that partners work together to reduce neighbourhood crime. The PCC wants to ensure the new Combatting Drugs Partnerships (CDPs) draw partners together to deliver national outcomes and improvements for communities. ACC Cooper will be providing an input to partners on CLs at a future CDP meeting.
The SPO reiterated that the information provided by the force was extremely useful to ensure compliance with statutory reporting requirements. Action: PCC policy team to engage with Chief of Staff to determine how the information shared in the national policing priorities A&A report is used to produce a public product in line with PCC statutory requirements.
5. Quarterly HMICFRS Update
The PCC commissioned a report on the 2021/22 PEEL inspection – 1 year on. 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.
The CC’s report set out an overall improved service for victims. It was noted that a significant number of HMICFRS recommendations had gone to the inspectorate to be signed off as completed including areas for improvement (AFIs) linked to use of DVPNs/Os and proactively managing breaches of orders.
The CC identified several recommendations that were in a good place but required some more work. The Victim Service Assessment (VSA) due to be undertaken by HMICFRS in July will provide a clear view as to progress, particularly in respect of the cause for concern and associated AFIs. The force has been continuously auditing and reviewing progress to date. The CC is confident there has been demonstrable progress around investigative quality and supervisory updates. A hot debrief will take place following the VSA in early July. Action: CC to consider mechanism for briefing PCC on early findings from HMICFRS VSA hot debrief.
The CC flagged the areas that had made the least progress. This included:
– AFI 6 recording missing person reports on missing person system: this is dependent on an upgrade to ICT systems,
– AFI 9 multi agency data collection plan: work is underway via the Prevention Supt and the PCC funded partnership analysts. Best practice has also been sought from the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC).
– AFI 16 expanding the skills project work: delays were related to a vacant post which has been subsequently filled which should drive work forward.
The DPCC highlighted the references to the MAA policy throughout the HMICFRS paper. A discussion took place regarding partnership activity and processes in relation to mental health crisis incidents. The CC provided reassurance that mental health leads in each LPA understand the lawful use of powers, statutory responsibilities and that joint training between police and NHS has taken place.
6. Summary of Actions Arising
The SPO provided a summary of the actions as set out above in bold.
7. Any Other Business
8. Confirmation of Next Meeting Type / Date / Time / Venue
Thematic – Putting Victims and Their Voice at the Heart of the Criminal Justice System – 29th June 2023