Today (07/07), Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) have published a report into their latest inspection of Wiltshire Police under the Police Efficiency, Effectiveness and Legitimacy (PEEL) programme.
The report grades Wiltshire Police as ‘inadequate’ in our ability to respond to the public, protect vulnerable people, and strategic planning. It further describes the Force as ‘requiring improvement’ in a number of other areas from the inspection and makes a series of recommendations of what the Force needs to do to improve the service provided to the public.
Chief Constable Kier Pritchard said: “I recognise this is a significantly concerning report. My responsibility as Chief Constable is to deliver a local policing service that the people of Wiltshire expect, pay for and deserve. I remain resolute in our effort to improve.
“I acknowledge the findings from HMICFRS and accept the recommendations outlined in their report - we take the concerns raised very seriously and we are already taking prompt and comprehensive action to address these.
“Whilst we have been working hard to drive improvements in our service to our communities, we will be relentless in our focus on accelerating our work to do what is needed to improve our service. We fully accept that we need to move quickly to make improvements in some critical areas and we will turn the inspection feedback into tangible activity that you will see.
“I know people join Wiltshire Police to make a difference and protect our communities, and it is clear from this report we have not been doing that to the standard and expectation the public have of us. As a Force, whilst we are bitterly disappointed by the findings of the inspection, we are determined to address the improvements set out in the report.
“Improving service delivery is my highest priority as your Chief Constable.
“Whilst our officers, staff and volunteers work incredibly hard in challenging circumstances, it is clear we have much more to do in focusing on the core service delivery.
“We have received similar challenges from the Police and Crime Commissioner, and, with our respective organisations, we are already working together to identify and address many of the issues outlined in the report today and have already made changes in these areas.
“We have a detailed and focused plan which is firmly aligned to the delivery of the Commissioners Police and Crime Plan.
“Our ambition is to return our service to the standard the public expect, and we have already put in place many actions to support this.”
Establishing a dedicated action taskforce which will focus on re-setting and improving the fundamentals of public service at every level, from point of contact through to delivering improved justice outcomes
Focused ongoing training for all of our front-line officers and staff, and critically, with their supervisors and sergeants. Enhanced training has also been delivered to our Contact Centre staff specifically on identifying vulnerability threat, harm and risk in every interaction with the public
We are in the process of introducing a Force-wide Volume Crime Team to further professionalise our approach to investigating crime across neighbourhoods, keeping victims better informed and working with the Crown Prosecution Service to deliver better outcomes.
Chief Constable Pritchard added: “During May, I personally set out my expectations to my officers, staff and volunteers through a series of whole force forums, speaking directly to over 1500 members of Wiltshire Police. I can assure you that they are deeply saddened by the findings of the inspection, they acknowledge what needs to be done and are determined to play their part in making the improvements required to enhance the service we provide to the public.
“Set against the complexity of demands they now face, I am confident in their ability to deliver the service improvements required across our communities. We share the same ambition, and we are going to do this together.
“Policing is becoming ever more complex and the annual HMICFRS inspection is one of a number of important elements of scrutiny to check and test how we are performing as a Force.”
Whilst the report outlines a number of areas in our policing approach that have been graded as ‘Inadequate’ or ‘Requires Improvement’, it contains some examples of positive practice across the Force, such as:
Our approach to addressing violence against women and girls, in particular the collaborative work we are doing with our local forces and the Crown Prosecution Service
Our collaboration with the Swindon and Wiltshire Health Care NHS Trust in the provision of a number of mental health practitioners who provide 24/7 support to the Force control centre and to frontline officers and staff, and provide essential and appropriate care to people in crisis
Our work around early intervention to help prevent crime at the earliest opportunity, working with children and families, with supporting training to frontline officers
The clear focus and partnership working in relation to our integrated offender management programme, aligned to national policy and structure.
Chief Constable Pritchard continued: “There is no doubt that the very real and relevant challenges such as the Salisbury poisonings in 2018, the impact of the global Covid pandemic and other challenges facing policing - such as recruitment, experience gaps across parts of our workforce resulting from the national accelerated recruitment programme of police officers (Uplift), the increasing complexity of policing demand and local demand on partners - have all had an impact upon our ability to provide consistently strong local service delivery.
“But all that said, we know what we need to do and we know where we need to improve. We will have a relentless focus on making the necessary improvements.”
As a result of the report, Wiltshire Police will now be placed into the HMICFRS ‘Engage’ process which means the Chief Constable and the PCC will be providing regular updates on progress to the national Police Performance Oversight Group (PPOG).
Chief Constable Pritchard said: “The additional support that the ‘Engage’ process will provide will help us achieve the recommendations outlined in the report.
“Learning from other organisations and utilising best practice can only be a good thing for our communities and we await further detail of what that package of support includes.
“It is important to highlight that this position is not unique to Wiltshire Police - there are a number of forces that are currently within the ‘Engage’ process and we are one of those forces.
“Ultimately this is about providing a better and more consistent policing service overall and we welcome the support this process will offer.
“We intend to proactively publish our progress via our website so that we can demonstrate to our communities that we are making the necessary improvements.
“Crime figures show that Wiltshire is one of the lowest crime areas in the country, but we are not complacent and we take the findings outlined in the HMICFRS report very seriously. We expect to be held to account over these matters, not only by the inspectorate and the PCC, but also importantly, by the public. I want to reassure you that we are already making positive improvements and will continue to do all that we can to meet the needs of the public.”