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‘We’ll be a smaller but smarter force’, pledges West Midlands chief constable

‘We’ll be a smaller but smarter force’, pledges West Midlands chief constable

🕔17.Mar 2015

West Midlands Police has published a blueprint setting out how it intends to become a “smaller, faster and smarter” service by 2020 with the loss of a further 2,500 officer and staff jobs.

Described as a new era of policing, the plan commits the force to develop a “more agile, mobile and effective response” to problems in communities and to become more reliant on technology and digital engagement to fight crime.

The force is working with private sector partner Accenture to change the way it operates, but chief constable Chris Sims insisted the changes were not being solely driven by the Government’s austerity programme which will cut the West Midlands police budget by £130 million over the next four years on top of £125 million already made. Mr Sims said:

Although this blueprint has been accelerated by the austerity cuts, it is something that we would have done in any event because it’s the right thing to do. I believe it is the first step in moving to an entirely new era of policing and will be instrumental in shaping how forces across the country start to change their services.

We are currently at a point where budgets for policing and partners are retracting at a level never seen before, technology is advancing and society is changing − so policing is at a critical point.

For me the most important element of the blueprint is that we get the best for the communities we serve. We need to respond to and reflect those changes − becoming a smaller, faster, smarter service that is responsive to the needs of local communities.

Neighbourhood policing is key to our relationships with communities. However, in the face of our financial challenges, we must now re-look at the various services delivered through the national policing model so we secure the elements that matter most to the public.

We will also look to develop our online presence. We are not and never want to be a techno organisation − policing is about people – but we have to operate with data in a modern way and be accessible in a way people expect in the 21st century.

The Blueprint centres on four main themes:

  • Designed to listen and reassure −adopting a new approach to working with the public, partners and each other.
  • Geared to prevent harm − preventing crime and offending before people can be harmed.
  • Prepared to respond at pace − adopting a more agile, mobile and effective response to problems in communities.
  • Ready to learn and adapt – becoming a more active and innovative learning organisation.

The blueprint reflects the growing use of technology and digital engagement used by the public, such as empowering victims and witnesses to self-serve by giving them the choice on how they report and track incidents.

It also signals a more proactive approach, with much more focus upon preventing crime.

One critical element is to protect the future of neighbourhood policing by changing how it is run in the face of continued financial pressures − with resources focused on areas of most need and operating a policing model which is not constrained by geographical boundaries.

Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said:

We are doing all we can to ensure we can deliver what the public needs and desires.

Over the next five years we will be working hard to introduce new technology that will enable officers to work more effectively in serving the public.

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