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Police and Crime Commissioner Statement (Published February 2024)

The Elected Local Policing Bodies (Specified Information) (Amendment) Order 2021 provides that PCCs must publish a narrative setting out:

  • a statement on the contribution of the police force maintained by the elected local policing body to achieving improvements against those priorities;
  • an explanation of which of the national priorities are assessed to be applicable and which not applicable in the context of the relevant police area and the reasons for that assessment.

All the national policing priorities are assessed to be applicable as they align to the Police and Crime Commissioner’s (PCC) Safer West Mercia Plan and West Mercia Police’s Control Strategy.

Set out below is the PCC’s statement on the contribution of West Mercia Police to achieving improvements against the national priorities for policing. 

National Policing priorities

Priority area: Reduce murder and other homicide

A summary of quarterly performance:

  • Q3 2023 -24 saw 1 homicide recorded.
  • In the first 9 months of 2023-24, 6 homicides were recorded, and the current rolling 12-month total is 8 recorded homicides.
  • This is the lowest recording in recent times, and a significant drop from the rolling 12-month total seen at the end of 2022 of 24 homicides.

Reflections on force performance:

  • Revised arrangements and guidance for the recording of possible homicides appear to be making an impact.
  • Despite the reduction in homicides, significant work continues particularly in MIU North. In relation to operation Gallop, a not guilty verdict was reached in January against the Defendant, Ashley Harris, on both counts of murder and manslaughter in relation to the assault on Anthony Wootton. While this was a disappointing outcome for the investigation team, it was not wholly unexpected given the nature and background to the offence.

A summary of planned action for the next quarter:

·       The NPCC Homicide working group are looking to refresh the national homicide problem profile and have requested that forces look to update theirs to feed into the national picture. West Mercia will look to publish towards the end of this financial year an interim product and then capture the final data to include for the complete 2023/24 financial year in a final product, due post 31 March 2024.

  • MIU North are preparing for the Operation Columbia trial which is set to commence on the 19 February with five defendants in relation to the murder of 23-year-old Aurman Singh on 21st August 2023, in the Coton Hill area of Shrewsbury. In addition, the team continue to prepare for significant activity in relation to Operation Croft.  
Priority area: Reduce serious violence

A summary of quarterly performance:  

Reductions in serious violence have continued into Q3. This includes a 7% decrease in violence with injury offences and a 15% decrease in violence without injury offences compared to Q3 of 22/23. This is particularly marked in Telford and North Worcestershire who have seen a decrease in violence without injury offences of 20% and 17% respectively. 

West Mercia has seen a 14% increase in the overall volume of NHS Sharps injury admissions in August 2023 (latest data available). West Mercia is not an outlier as the criteria in the Early Warning System (DCPP) has not been met. The force has seen a 17% decrease in the number of police recorded crime involving a knife or sharp instrument as of September 2023.  

West Mercia has seen a 4% decrease in the number of police recorded crime involving a firearm as of September 2023. 

Reflections on force performance:  

This is a positive reflection of the work undertaken by the force and by partners to tackle serious violence, particularly in relation to the requirements of the Serious Violence Duty. Strategic needs assessments have been completed for each Community Safety Partnership and an overarching Serious Violence Strategy is in place. This is driving activity to tackle the causes of serious violence across the force. 

The increase in reported sharps injuries to NHS is likely to reflect improved reporting structures, and data is now available from each of the five A&E departments within the force. The anti-knife crime work across the force is continuing to be beneficial, with a significant decrease in knife offences despite a national trend.  Op Sceptre, in November 2023 saw 340 knives surrendered, 82 stop/searches, 44 diversionary visits, 14 arrests and 183 educational inputs across the force.

Wider work around preventing serious violence, and supporting the national winter homicide prevention campaign, included a focus on preventative activity in nighttime economy throughout December 2023. 312 hot spot patrols were completed in town and city centre locations, resulting in 12 stop/searches, 13 arrests and 2436 people engaged with. Behavioural Detection Officers were deployed for the first time in West Mercia, mirroring Project Vigilant tactics with 23 deployments leading to 60 interventions to prevent an offence taking place, of which 35 individuals were already know to Police, and 9 were arrested. There was a renewed focus on licensed premises according to levels of harm and demand, with 596 licensing visits taking place by officers.

A summary of planned action for the next quarter:  

Two evidenced based tactics are being implemented in the next quarter, hot spot policing and focussed deterrence. Both are likely to have a significant impact on preventing serious violence offences. In addition, Licensing Security & Vulnerability Initiative (LSAVI) is being rolled out to the licensed premises across West Mercia, seeking to prevent violence in the night-time economy by making licensed premises safer. 

Priority area: Disrupt drugs supply and county lines

A summary of quarterly performance:

  • At the end of Q3 23/24, West Mercia Police had 33 active organised crime groups (OCGs). This represents no change on the previous quarter and represents the second highest number ever recorded.
  • 55% of our active OCGs are criminally active in drug supply.  
  • Q3 23/24 saw 39 OCG Disruptions.

County Lines team activity since the last report resulted in:

  • Tier 1-line closures – 9.
  • Arrests – 42.
  • £120000 cash seized.
  • £50 drugs seized.
  • 18 nominals safeguarded.

Reflections on force performance:

The performance data shows continued positive performance in breaking supply chains and rolling up the CL model.  As of January 24, the force has 24 active CLs, this continues the downward trend for West Mercia but still represents approximately half the number of mapped CLs for the region. Additionally, the force continues to develop initiatives such as Op Radar, the targeting of CL offenders utilising the Strategic Road Network, resulting in 4 arrests, the seizure of a significant quantity of heroin and seizure of over £1000 in cash during a week of action in December.

Planning is underway for the next CLs intensification week at the start of March.

From a wider drug supply perspective:

The force has not seen a significant rise in drug related deaths relating to synthetic opioids.  There is still potential for this to occur should the heroin supply from Afghanistan become constricted or novel synthetic opioids appear.  The force is considering naloxone pilots to prepare for that eventuality. 

The capacity of drug expert witness (DEW) officers remains a challenge and funding has been identified to reduce the backlog of statement requests and thereby speed up the criminal justice process for offenders involved in drug supply offences.

The force continues to improve its Drug Testing on Arrest (DTOA) capability to ensure that all opportunities to divert offenders are taken.  The scheme is currently focused on acquisitive crime but is likely to move into other areas such as domestic abuse in the future. 

Priority area: Reduce neighbourhood crime

Theft from the person (TFP)

Reflections on force performance

Between October and December 2023, the force recorded 72 offences, compared to 108 over the same period in 2022. This amounts to a 33% reduction. The category only accounts for 0.36% of total recorded crime. Offences cluster around town centres, with the crime often being opportunistic. There is an overlap with shoplifting offences and all LPAs have seen a significant uplift in offenders being brought to justice.

Summary of planned activity

Neighbourhood Crime Fighting Teams (NCFTs) have been utilised in proactive operations to target offenders and offer crime prevention advice. In addition, these NCFTs are now trained as Behavioural Detection Officers, which should help to identify suspects should the need arise. The implementation of Town Centre Teams, with a dedicated policing presence located in retail centres, is intended to further improve our response, and increase the confidence of business holders.


Reflections on force performance
Across the force, 149 robberies were recorded in Q3 broken down as follows, South Worcestershire 37, North Worcestershire 49, Herefordshire 14, Shropshire 24, and Telford & Wrekin 25. This is a reduction of 20 offences from Q2. North Worcestershire and Herefordshire were the only LPAs to see an increase in volumes. In Herefordshire this was just 1 additional offence recorded compared to Q2 and in North Worcestershire 4 additional offences.

All LPAs took part in Operation Calibre, a week-long national initiative aimed at reducing robbery offences which focussed on arresting outstanding suspects, high visibility patrols and community engagement promoting prevention. During this week, 5 robberies and 1 attempt robbery were reported across West Mercia. Of these 6 offences, suspects were identified in 5 of the investigations. 4 of these suspects have been arrested, 1 is outstanding and 1 is unknown. In total, 9 robbery arrests were made were made during the week of action.
To reduce volume offending further, we review local tasking priorities, crime dashboards and the matrix to identify current and seasonal hotspots for enhanced patrols. Use of bail checks for suspects on bail for robbery offences.

Detections across West Mercia are currently at 9.7% (YTD), this has increased from 8.4% (YTD) in Q2, however the target is 12% therefore more work is required.

Significant work has been undertaken along with partners such as BTP to target those offenders who use the rail network to travel into West Midlands from cities such as Birmingham with weapons to commit robbery offences. These have yielded significant results in terms of arrest, discovery of weapons, engagement with the community and increased public confidence due to the activities undertaken.

Summary of planned activity
LPAs will review local tasking priorities, crime dashboards and the matrix to identify current and seasonal hotspots for enhanced patrols. Use of bail checks for suspects on bail for robbery offences will be enforced.

Burglary (Residential)

Reflections on force performance
There has been a very marginal decrease in the volume of burglaries in West Mercia in quarter 3, although this decrease is not reflected equally across all policing areas. Shropshire and Telford saw slight increases in Q3 when compared to Q2 with the other areas reducing in volume. The force detection rate is remaining steady between Q2 and Q3 at 6.3% and importantly the victim satisfaction for this crime type is at 84%.

Summary of planned activity
The emphasis on prevention continues through local SNTs and Problem-Solving Teams. Cross Border work will continue with colleagues in West Midlands Police, sharing information and intelligence to tackle Car Key burglary offences on the force boundaries under Operation Enzyme. We are looking to maximise forensic opportunities, deploying scenes of crime officers to suitable offence locations, with a particular focus in South Worcestershire due to the volume of offences recorded in previous quarters.

Vehicle Crime

Reflections on force performance
The previous reductions we have seen in volumes of this crime type continue into Q3. The Force has moved from a position of a 3% reduction by the end of Q2 to a 5% reduction by the end of Q3 against last year’s volumes. Force detection rates have largely remained static noting some improvements on Worcestershire and Herefordshire LPAs in this period.

Summary of planned activity
Press releases to be promoted via Corporate Comms and local social media, raising crime prevention awareness. SNT to continue with their patrol plans and IOM officers to continue to target known vehicle offenders. Vehicle crime activity to be monitored via tasking and problem-solving process.

Priority area: Improve victim satisfaction with a focus on victims of domestic abuse

YTD (Apr-Dec 23) Satisfaction Completely, Very and Fairly Satisfied, showed 79% of satisfied victims of domestic abuse, against a target of 80%. Very or completely dissatisfied respondents are referred to the LPA for service recovery. Victim satisfaction surveys have been reviewed to ensure they provide the Force with actionable insight. 

Priority area: Tackle cyber crime

A summary of quarterly performance – Q3

  • 66 referrals were made by action fraud to West Mercia Police over the three-month reporting period.
  • 100% of action fraud referrals were investigated.
  • 110 disruptions have been recorded over the reporting period which range from education activity, the arrest of offenders and the submitting of intelligence.

Reflections on Force performance

  • The FCCU was involved in the arrest of 5 suspects for offences including cryptocurrency related fraud, Computer Misuse Act offences and dark web related drug supply activity.
  • A Cease-and-Desist notice was issued in respect of a 17-year-old juvenile who was later entered onto the Cyber Choices PREVENT Programme. The notice related to a male purchasing a “flipper zero” tool in an attempt to connect to care staff’s devices. 
  • 3P staff attended Worcester University as guest lecturers where they delivered an input on Cyber Dependant crime and PROTECT messaging.
  • Twenty-one in person events have been held over Q3 with the 3P team making direct contact with 1743 members of the public, offering PROTECT advice.
  • Cyber and Fraud PROTECT Social Media Campaigns reached 266,141 people over Q3.
  • £1500 worth of cryptocurrency was seized as part of a drug investigation (Op PERSEVERE). 
  • Launched an investigation alongside Proactive CID, Shropshire in respect of a cryptocurrency related robbery.

Planned Action for Q4.

  • The training of 37 Cyber & Fraud SPOC to deliver PROTECT advice to communities across West Mercia.
  • The continued review of cyber related intelligence to identify proactive opportunities to target criminals.
  • Further “Prevent Live” events targeted at improving the knowledge of school staff in respect of the Cyber Choices Programme.