It’s been a busy few weeks since I updated you and a lot has gone on.
It was fantastic to meet so many of you at the WMP2020 Live sessions. About 2,500 of you came to catch up on what is happening in the force from drones to Taser. The DCC and I really enjoyed the conversations with you all and one consistent theme came up: Neighbourhood officers and NPUs are being pulled away from some of the proactive work they are doing to address grade 3 and legacy demand.
I really share the frustration; prevention is at the front of the vision for our force. In June we saw a step up in demand and had to pass some calls back into NPUs. While the overall demand has come down the level of grade one and two calls has created real challenges to change this back.
This is putting our operating model out of shape. The issue is not actually very simple to resolve and work is ongoing and we will update you in the next few weeks. Lots is being done around accountability, confidence closing logs off to looking at more scheduled attendance.
There is however a reality that’s quite clear. Despite a high volume of work now being dealt with over the telephone we are now struggling to service all the calls made to us and retain a proactive, prevention mission. You and the public know that just responding creates a vicious cycle that creates even more demand. It’s why the prevention work is vital.
Before we get there it still feels to me there are lots of jobs in the system that are not policing requests and sometimes we choose to take them on. Our wide mission and an increased focus on vulnerability means we are a little concerned about what will happen if we don’t take things on. There a tendency to “cover my back by passing the buck” by recording, agreeing to attend things or deploy a resource “just in case” something goes wrong.
This is a really tough issue. No one is trying to do a bad job and many of the calls are complex. People are worried of criticism and it can be easier to say yes than no. It’s also quite hard for me to resolve this issue on my own beyond reducing a sense of blame and strengthening the sense you get backed for making hard decisions. We’ll look at our values to start with: “ I make the right decisions, however tough they are”
This is here because at a time of reduced resources we all have to show leadership in deciding the best use of our time. If you are in a leadership role you have an absolute obligation to make decisions on priority.
Let’s be clear if you make a decision to do, or not to do something, in line with our values for a good reason then you’ll get my backing.
We do not do things “just in case”, we do them if we see a realistic risk we have to manage.
In other news October had lots going on across the force and nationally. Black History Month saw a wealth of great activity organised by our staff associations to celebrate the diversity of our force.
My particular favourite was the ‘Humans of West Midlands Police’ campaign which has successfully illustrated diversity across the force. We’ve also had the AMP anniversary celebrations and the women in policing contribution to National Menopause Week which saw me interviewed for the Lorraine show on ITV.
With all of the above fantastic and vital work, the force’s efforts to bring awareness of these issues have been widely praised but I am always clear that it is the work, commitment and passion of the staff involved with the associations who bring it to life. I congratulate them on their great success.