West Midlands police to be placed under special measures


West Midlands police is accused of carrying out poor investigations into crimes, leading to poor results for victims.

His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) placed it in “Engage”, known colloquially as special measures. It will be seen as a sign of the crisis gripping policing.

West Midlands police joins four other forces in special measures, including the country’s biggest, the Metropolitan police. The other forces judged to be failing and of concern are Devon and Cornwall, Wiltshire and Staffordshire.

HMIC gave four grounds for subjecting West Midlands police to special measures. As well as failing victims, it is accused of failures over managing registered sex offenders, also in effectively managing the risk posed by suspected online child abusers, and failures in protecting vulnerable people.

West Midlands police got a new chief constable, Craig Guildford, in December 2022, and the force believes improvements have been made and were showing results.

The decision to place West Midlands police into special measures followed an inspection by HMIC.

Wendy Williams, from HMIC, said: “We move police forces into our enhanced level of monitoring, known as ‘Engage’, when a force is not responding to our concerns, or if it is not managing, mitigating or eradicating these concerns.

“The ‘Engage’ process provides additional scrutiny and support from the inspectorate and other external organisations in the policing sector to help the police force improve and provide a better service for the public.

“West Midlands police has been asked to urgently produce an improvement plan and will meet regularly with our inspectors. We will work closely with the force to monitor its progress against these important and necessary changes.”

In a rare move, Guildford made public his disagreement with the decision. He said: “Although I remain respectful of [the inspectorate]I completely disagree with their decision-making to move West Midlands police into ‘Engage’ now despite providing them with recent evidence that should inform a much more comprehensive and fair assessment of the force.

“When I joined WMP … I recognised there needed to be a significant improvement in the force’s performance, the number of offenders brought to justice and the service we provide to local communities.

“It was for this reason that I implemented a rapid overhaul of the operating model and in April 2023 we created seven new local policing areas … Since implementing this new model, changing Force Contact and opening two more custody suites, our arrest rate has increased by a third, as has the number of offenders brought to justice. This continues to improve each month.”

“We have gone from being one of the worst call-handling forces to one of the best in 11 months. We answer 70,000 999 calls each month in an average of 5 seconds; and have improved the proportion of emergency incidents attended within our specified targets by 25%.”

HMIC said “it was assured West Midlands police is taking steps to address these concerns, but significant and sustained improvements are required and the inspectorate will be closely monitoring the force’s progress”.