'We could do much better', admits West Midlands Police chief
The second in command at West Midlands Police has urged officers to do better as she reveals fewer than a third of priority-ranked calls are reached within the target time.
Deputy Chief Constable Louisa Rolfe said that although the force is facing challenges, with a shrinking budget and fewer staff, the force could do more with the resources available.
DCC Rolfe's internal blog, titled 'Performance: We could do better', revealed just three in 10 priority response call-outs were reached inside the 60-minute target.
She said: “This is about understanding where we can work smarter, apply that extra effort and prioritise effectively.
“This needs leaders to be intrusive in understanding the pressures on their teams and directing activity where it can make the biggest difference, overcoming the blockers and ensuring our people feel supported to make choices and do the right thing.
“It is not about doing more of everything but it is about doing more of the right stuff.
"Policing is under the spotlight like probably never before, so I want to take stock of our performance."
The force has 2,000 fewer officers than it did eight years ago, while crime has surged. It now has 6,000 officers.
A picture posted by the police force's response unit on Twitter this morning showed six police vehicles parked outside City Hospital in Birmingham, meaning at least 12 officers were inside dealing with injured prisoners or vulnerable people.
DCC Rolfe added: “While the media is sympathetic to our challenge of a shrinking budget and fewer staff, with yet more crime to deal with, too often we are not making best use of what we have.
“Despite all these challenges, our performance could be much better.”
And she said: "I’ve heard too many stories of the public being told to ‘let go’ an offender they’ve caught because we have no-one to send.
"In an organisation of more than 10,000 people, more than 6,000 of whom are officers, this cannot be right.”
She said officers and staff were working hard and 'feeing the pressure of increased demand'.
Surging crime, fewer convictions
Her comments come in the same week Chief Constable Dave Thompson admitted calls about crime are not getting answered as quickly as they used to.
He also said fewer 'high volume' crimes like thefts are investigated, adding 'as a result fewer offenders brought to justice'.
In July, the Express & Star revealed crime across the West Midlands had gone up 13 per cent in a year, while just four per cent of burglaries in six months were solved.
A crime survey by this title found 87 per cent of readers did not think the police were doing a 'good job'.
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson is asking the Government for a two-year £85 million funding package to pay for 500 extra police officers.
In response to DCC Rolfe's comments he said: "The Deputy Chief Constable is absolutely right to try and squeeze as much as possible out of the force. It is what the public expect.
"The independent policing inspectorate rates West Midlands Police as an efficient force, that ‘has a strong record of reducing costs.’
"It is only by continuing to drive efficiencies that we will remain efficient.
"As we are making the case to government about our unfair funding, it is right that there is no let-up in making efficiencies.
"The force is investing in technology so officers can do their job on the move and spend more time catching criminals.
"Along with that investment, it is right that the force’s senior officers, as well as supporting officers, continue to try and get the most out of every pound we receive."
Richard Cooke, chairman of the West Midlands Police Federation, has had a 'frank conversation' with DCC Rolfe over the blog, he said.
He said: "There is not, and cannot be any doubt about our officer’s commitment to get the job done and that in most cases that job remains a good one.
"There will always be ways we can do things better, and our officers have embraced change, new technology, and made the best of it over and over again, despite the personal upheaval.
"They consistently put the public first and run towards danger."