Date: 11th December 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 (NL)
- Alex Murray, Deputy Chief Constable (T/CC)
- Richard Cooper, Assistant Chief Constable (T/DCC Cooper)
Quarter 2 Performance -2023/24 Meeting Notes
1. Review of Action Tracker
Actions reviewed and progressed as per action tracker. The CC confirmed that the HMICFRS Serious Organised Crime (SOC) Delivery plan had been shared with the PCC as had the finalised digital strategy. A meeting had also been arranged to have a demo of the mobile power app to measure engagement. Timescales were agreed for outstanding actions.
2. Quarterly HMICFRS Update
West Mercia Police revisit: Victim service Assessment (VSA)
The T/CC provided an executive assessment of force performance as set out in the force briefing paper.
The T/CC acknowledged that for the VSA it was a tale of two halves and that the T/DCC is making significant progress within the area identified as a cause of concern. The force has seen improvement in the preservation of evidence and call taking performance since the launch of Project Switch. It was advised that the new grading structure has improved performance in grade 2 and 3 attendance times and how victims are updated. The PCC expressed disappointment regarding the lack of improvement in investigation supervision and oversight as this had declined. Assurance was given that more recent audits had found considerable improvements in investigations, but the T/CC still has outstanding concerns on the subsequent supervisory reviews taking place.
The PCC questioned whether the force was aspirational enough in regards to the pace of progress given what aspiration should have been set from the force and if they were disappointed that the cause for concern and AFIs remain from the HMICFRS revisit.
The T/CC confirmed the force’s disappointment that the cause of concern remains and particularly the lack of progress in supervisory oversight. The PCC queried next steps to deliver improvements.
The T/DCC confirmed that a workshop will be convened with supervisors within the force that are doing well to rationalise what needs to be recorded to make it as straightforward as possible. The T/DCC expressed confidence in the force currently being in a good position now they have the right methodologies and updated on the collaborative work that is taking place with HMICFRS.
3. Chief Constable Assessment on Quarterly Performance
Safer West Mercia Plan and Budget Priorities
The T/CC gave an overview of Q2 23/24 Quarterly Performance Report (July – September 2023) as set out below:
The force is pushing hard on bringing offenders to justice, there has been an improvement in rape outcomes, but it was acknowledged that this was not sufficient and that there was more to be done.
Vehicle crime has decreased by 4% and detection rates have improved for burglary and shoplifting with an increase of 30%. The T/CC acknowledged that shoplifting is a significant concern for the public and that the force is exploring moving to weekly performance reporting to provide closer monitoring. Reassurance was provided by updating on the Problem Solving Plans in place and that the force is fully committed to bringing offenders to justice.
The PCC asked that the T/CC’s presentation focus on the following local priorities:
Outcomes – focus on current performance and most similar groups (MSGs) comparison data
The PCC acknowledged that within his time in West Mercia, there has never been such a prevalent focus on bringing offenders to justice as there is now. It was encouraging to see this now feature within the T/CC’s organisational messaging and outcomes which support the delivery of the Safer West Mercia plan.
The PCC reiterated the importance of being able to assess how the force know they are succeeding and how he can support this through scrutiny activity to ensure longstanding changes are delivered for the public. This is particularly important to the PCC as the Most Similar Group (MSG) measure indicates that the force is performing less favourably than similar forces.
The T/CC outlined areas it was felt the force was succeeding such as bringing more people to justice and gave assurance that the force will go further in that regard. The role of out of court disposals (OOCD) was discussed and how the force can ensure that a detection is accurately recorded and recognised.
Discussion took place regarding what could be learnt from other forces within the MSG such as Norfolk who heavily focus on investigative work but have no PSCO presence.
The PCC is open to ideas on how the force seek to improve performance as that remains the main priority. He reaffirmed the importance of the force identifying the right method for improvement.
Complaints and conducts
The PCC expressed concern on the number of complaints recorded in the first 6 months of 23/24. This scrutiny acknowledged the increase that has been seen nationally but the PCC wanted reassurance that action is being taken locally.
The T/CC reflected on this and advised that he did not have a conclusion or hypothesis on the increase in complaints. It was acknowledged that this is an incredibly subjective area and that levels of tolerance have changed over recent years. Despite fluctuations the T/CC was confident that the police are a better more effective service and that a broad spectrum of cases are being considered.
Increase in Acquisitive Crime (Residential burglary, vehicle offences, shoplifting and bicycle theft)
The PCC queried the small increase in vehicle crime identified through the quarterly report. This placed the force at higher-than-average levels amongst the MSG and the PCC wanted to understand the drivers. The PCC’s scrutiny focussed on the increase being predominantly driven by North Worcestershire despite several proactive operations to target offending. This led to further questioning from the PCC to determine the impact of this operational activity. The T/CC concluded that whilst operations have and continue to take place, there remained significant challenges.
The PCC asked for an overview of what work is taking place in terms of traditional prevention work by the force and reiterated his commitment to investing in such projects.
The T/CC welcomed this investment and confirmed that significant preventative work is taking place, such as the issuing of anti-theft car key signal blockers, steering wheel locks and wider educational operations. The force confirmed that what is numerically increasing the theft figures is theft from vehicle, not theft of vehicle but that the force remains committed to developing operations such as hot spotting to identify operations for high target areas.
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.
The PCC welcomed the more succinct report but requested additional executive support for information required to meet the PCC’s Statutory duty to publish detail of force activity in relation to the priorities which was supported.
The T/CC acknowledged the 12-month rolling reduction in homicides and confirmed that work had taken place on what was previously classified as a murder. It was confirmed that the predominant proportion of homicides that take place are in the north of the force and that the majority of homicides are DA related.
The PCC’s questioning focused predominantly on the reasons for an increase in NHS sharps injury admissions in May and the decreasing victim satisfaction within serious violence.
The T/CC acknowledged this concern and expressed disappointment that victim satisfaction is reducing month on month within serious violence and reaffirmed the force’s commitment to improving this. The T/DCC advised that the increase in knife crime and sharps injury admissions could be due to low violence assaults which are being explored.
The PCC raised the increase of Domestic Violence Protection Notices (DVPNs) issued by the police and if the impact on victims was understood.
The force felt that levels are improving and that whilst there is still progress to be made, reoffending rates for offenders on DVPNs are significantly reducing, suggesting notices provide an effective deterrent.
Improving satisfaction among victims, with a particular focus on victims of domestic abuse (DA):
The PCC reiterated the importance of victim satisfaction and asked the T/CC to set out how victim satisfaction is utilised, and how it can be used moving forward. This included establishing how the force approaches dissatisfied DA victims and how lessons are learned.
The T/CC confirmed that victim satisfaction overall remains a positive upward trend which was encouraging particularly given the force’s focus on improving victim care. However, it was acknowledged that surveying a small amount of people is not intelligence led nor sufficiently victim focused. This prompted a discussion on how the force can further develop victim satisfaction recording which needs to then be fed back to officers and at a strategic level. It was noted that the force did not feel confident that this was currently taking place.
The PCC welcomed this candour around the existing process. The PCC questioned where the role of lived experience currently sits in driving improvement within the force. The PCC felt that the voice of victim needed to be louder within the force, which he reaffirmed his support in doing as a key element of the Safer West Mercia Plan.
The T/CC talked through the force initiatives that are taking place to capture and drive service improvement such as the voice of victim videos which are played out on shifts, scrutiny panels for sexual violence and Domestic Abuse, and a Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) podcast that is being produced to draw out more general lessons.
The T/CC reinforced the messaging that every contact from the Police leaves a trace on a victim and reflected the force is not currently doing enough to learn from the voice of the victim.
Drugs and county lines
The PCC and DPCC raised the increase in mapped Organised Crime Groups and asked for additional context. The PCC / DPCC wanted to better understand whether there was a link between the increase in shoplifting and organised criminality.
The T/CC and T/DCC confirmed that there has not been an increase in organised crime. The increase in mapped OCGs is the result of better recording of groups following the recent HMICFRS SOC inspection.
Regarding OCG connections to shoplifting, it was advised that offenders and organised criminality involved in these offences are generally not West Mercia mapped OCGs (coming from out of force area). The force acknowledged that there are challenges for such instances in OCG ownership, as the force that arrest, must lead on investigation. West Mercia manage opportunities that present themselves, but it was confirmed that West Mercia have no OCGs currently mapped for retail crime.
6. Summary of Actions Arising
No formal actions recorded. A number of actions from previous meetings are ongoing and will be progressed against agreed timescales.
7. Any Other Business
8. Confirmation of Next Meeting Type / Date / Time / Venue
Thematic – Violence Against Women & Girls 19.12.2023