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West Midlands Police given deadline to address weaknesses after 'special measures' move

The police and crime commissioner for the West Midlands has rejected criticisms of the region's police force from HM Inspectorate of Constabularies.

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West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster

However, Simon Foster has nevertheless instructed Chief Constable Craig Guildford to address the four areas of concerns within the next 17 weeks.

Last week, HM Inspector of Constabularies Wendy Williams put the force under 'enhanced monitoring', more commonly known as 'special measures'.

Mr Foster said he had met with Mr Guildford to discuss the inspectorate's report, which raised concerns about four different areas: how it dealt with victims of crime, its management of sex offenders, how its efforts to control the risk posed by suspected online child abusers, and how it protected vulnerable people.

"I do not agree with that decision, a view that is shared by the Chief Constable," Mr Foster told today's meeting of the force's strategic policing and crime board.

But he said now that the report had been filed, he asked Mr Guildford to address the concerns by March 31 at the latest.

"I am treating this matter with the utmost seriousness and as a top priority," said Mr Foster.

"I have immediately met with the Chief Constable. I am holding him to account, to ensure he prepares and implements an effective action plan, in order to resolve the areas of concern as a matter of urgency."

Mr Foster said measures had already been taken and continued to be taken to drive significant improvements within West Midlands Police.

"That includes: transforming 999 and 101 performance and the largest crime reductions by volume, of any force in the country," he said.

"I have been repeatedly warning the government that its reckless cuts to policing, which even after the so-called police uplift, left West Midlands Police with 1,000 fewer officers than it had in 2010, have caused immense damage to the force."

Mr Foster said the inspector's decision to place the force under 'enhanced monitoring' was yet further evidence of the damage inflicted on the people of the West Midlands by the Government.

Mr Foster said the inspectorate's decision was based on data, already between eight and 11 months old.

The figures pre-dated the launch of the new neighbourhood policing strategy on April 3, 2023, and did not consider the action already taken to address the four areas of concern. "That is why, the decision taken is in many respects, a reflection of ‘what was’ rather than ‘what is’," Mr Foster said.