Rt Hon Suella Braverman KC MP
2 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DF
01 September 2023
PEEL spotlight report: Police performance getting a grip
I am writing to you in response to the above HMICFRS report published on 7th July 2023. I welcome the continued focus on the findings from the PEEL 2021/22 inspection programme, and the work undertaken by the inspectorate to identify the cross-cutting, fundamental issues that policing needs to address.
The issues highlighted in the report sit at the heart of my commissionership. I remain committed to working with the Chief Constable to deliver improved governance and performance management and will continue to utilise my annual budget to ensure the force has the right resources and technology to meet the needs and demands of communities across West Mercia.
The highlight report identified several areas where improvements are needed, as well as where police are getting things right. I am pleased to note that West Mercia Police was recognised for promising practice in respect of sharing performance information with local authorities, including access to raw data as well as ‘deep dive’ reports on specific priority areas such as serious and organised crime, knife crime and violence against women and girls. I have supported this work through the provision of funding for partnership analysts since I was first elected in 2016, and continue to utilise my convening powers to bring partners together to overcome barriers around sharing information.
As a result of the spotlight report, HMICFRS made 11 recommendations, 3 of which were for local forces. Below I set out how the Chief Constable in West Mercia will address these recommendations, and supporting activity being undertaken by my office.
Recommendation 2: By January 2024, forces should review whether they have effective processes in place to reduce the risk of skilled personnel leaving the organisation
Since being elected in 2016, I have overseen year-on-year increases in police officer numbers. Record highs have been achieved following the national 3-year Police Uplift Programme and I have committed to funding a further 40 additional officers (exceeding the Government target) as part of my 2023/24 budget.
In order to ensure communities feel the benefit of the increase in officers, it is imperative that the force has effective processes in place to retain skilled personnel. I am pleased to report that the force is in a good position in respect of this recommendation with a number of processes already in place, and further work underway. The force has a dedicated webpage with information and signposting to facilitate early intervention with personnel thinking of leaving. Where individuals do leave the organisation, exit interviews are conducted for all student officers, and exit discussions take place at Ch Supt level for long serving officers and staff to ascertain reasons for leaving.
Further work to understand and address reasons for leaving is in train, including a force-wide ‘cultural audit’, skills gap analysis and the identification of a dedicated resource to strengthen the force’s retention strategy.
Recommendation 3: By January 2024, forces should review their proactive well-being support for officers and staff in high-stress roles and situations. They should make sure it includes targeted support that goes beyond mandatory annual psychological screening.
The Chief Constable and I welcome the principle and aim of this recommendation to ensure officers and staff are provided appropriate support to ensure they can continue to provide the best possible service for the public. The force currently identifies roles which require targeted counselling and wellbeing support as a result of frequent exposure to trauma. The roles identified are under review to ensure all high stress roles are captured and appropriate support is provided. The force is currently developing the support offer to ensure it goes beyond screening.
Recommendation 6: By January 2024, chief constables should review their force’s performance frameworks and governance processes to reassure themselves that the force is collecting and analysing the right data […], and integrating a culture of evaluation into performance and improvement activity at all levels.
As PCC, I have a statutory duty and electoral mandate to hold the police to account on behalf of the public. I have embedded robust policies and procedures to scrutinise, support and challenge the overall performance of the force to ensure West Mercia is an efficient and effective police force. I chair monthly Assurance and Accountability meetings to hold the Chief Constable to account for performance across thematic areas, local Safer West Mercia Plan priorities, national policing priorities and HMICFRS areas for improvement and recommendations. I continue to work with the force to ensure the appropriate performance frameworks and governance processes are in place to drive activity and deliver improvements for the public.
West Mercia Police is currently in a period of re-designing governance processes to ensure maximum efficiency, less duplication of senior leaders across disparate forums, and that performance is effectively scrutinised against both internal areas for improvement, external parameters, and strategic targets. This will be supported by selected data sets (with reference to HMICFRS characteristics of good where applicable). This will ensure the provision of data is efficient, timely and accurate to allow the force to focus effort on areas most in need of improvement, but also evaluate efficacy of measures implemented to improve service to the public overall. This strategic approach will be replicated at policing area levels to allow direct comparison and learning/ process evolution where appropriate
As set out in my Safer West Mercia Plan, I remain committed to ensuring West Mercia manages its resources to maximise value, effectiveness, efficiency and meet demand. In delivering against this commitment I will ensure decisions for investment are transparent and based on robust business cases, evidence and need. My Assurance and Accountability programme provides a clear and robust way for me to scrutinise key areas of improvement, including those set out in the HMICFRS spotlight report. I will continue to use my holding to account powers to provide oversight and scrutiny of the force on behalf of the public, raising matters of community concerns and driving standards based on the outcomes of local and national inspections.
Police and Crime Commissioner
cc West Mercia Police Chief Constable