Having been with WMP for about two months now, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on my first impressions and thoughts and provide answers to some of the questions you’ve raised with me, when I’ve been out and about.
I started with WMP on 15th May, having come from Cheshire Police, where I was a Temporary ACC. You can read more about my background here.
On my arrival, I went straight into meeting as many of you across the force as possible. I’m still in the middle of this and if you see me visiting your area in the coming weeks, please feel free to stop and chat, as so many of you have already – I’m keen to know your views.
Assistant Chief Constable Sarah Boycott
My first impression of WMP is that it feels like a big family. I arrived to a really warm welcome and have been impressed by the hard work and professionalism I’ve seen from so many of you, in a variety of roles and places.
So far I’ve visited colleagues in Coventry, Wolverhampton, Sandwell and Dudley and dates are arranged to go to the other NPUs soon. I’ve also been to a number of our key departments, including Forensics, where I had a fascinating afternoon getting to see the technical expertise of our specialists in action. I’ve still got some more departments to get to.
One of the highlights of these visits has been going to the Event Control Suite at Tally Ho! on my very first day, to see the multi-agency response to the unexploded World War II bomb in Aston. I saw a lot of hard work from a number of people who showed great flexibility working some long hours, but who still displayed a real “can do” attitude, which was great to see.
I’ve also been very busy within the Force Executive Team (FET), both getting to grips with the local policing portfolio and as duty ACC. Recent weeks have been challenging nationally and it’s only right that WMP has responded by ensuring we are in a position of readiness. I have seen first-hand the commitment and resilience you’ve shown with the extra demands that have been placed upon you. The FET are all very proud of this and I hope you are also.
With regards to the local policing portfolio I’ve taken responsibility for, I’m grateful to ACC Michele Larmour for her hard work to-date in this area and I know she will be genuinely missed by many of you when she retires from policing in July.
During this period of increased demand we now, more than ever, need to ensure we are all concentrating our efforts in the same direction. I’ve taken the decision to postpone some of the meetings I had planned, which are not time critical. Others have been shortened. This is to enable us to spend our time where it needs to be – giving great service to our communities. I hope that you will be doing the same.
Now, to return to the promise I made at the start of the blog, to provide answers to the questions you have asked of me. A number of officers have asked whether they can be allowed to use appointments for domestic abuse matters in order to provide a response when it would best suit the victim. I can see that many of you are motivated by a more victim focused rather than the ‘one size fits all’ approach that you feel we have currently. I have discussed this with my colleagues in the FET. Attendance at domestic abuse remains a priority and so we are always keen to explore how we can deliver this in a way that better meets the needs of the victim and in the best way that we can to mitigate the risk that they are subject to. As you will understand this needs careful consideration. We will be guided by our colleagues in PPU, learning, nationally and within WMP and national guidance.
I’ve been asked a number of questions about uniform – can WMP provide hand sanitiser to front line officers, can departments for whom high visibility body armour is not wholly appropriate have a more discreet version and are there any plans to bring back flat caps? I’ve listened to all of these points and have raised them with ACC Marcus Beale who has responsibility within the Operations portfolio and he will be chairing a new Uniform and Equipment Board later in July.
Response officers have talked to me about a couple of issues making life more difficult for them than we would like – having to take mobility devices into Park Lane every six months for a code to be entered onto them and the ask of those of you en route to custody with a prisoner to conduct a PNC check for warning marker information, prior to your arrival.
To take these in turn, the mobility team are very aware that the six monthly check on the mobility devices is time consuming. However, it’s a security feature that is necessary at present, but be reassured the team are working hard with Vodafone to find a suitable alternative.
Regarding PNC checks for custody, I’ve discussed this with my FET colleagues and we’re working to understand if there is a better way of approaching this, taking into account any risk we decide to carry and where, while balancing the need to reduce demand.
I can confirm there are plans to complete a further roll out of body worn video to more officers and it is aimed to achieve this by the end of the year for Neighbourhood and Force Support roles.
I am genuinely excited about the future within WMP. I’ve seen excellent examples of intervention and prevention ranging from arresting those offenders that are causing harm, visible presence and crime prevention advice, to creative diversion schemes and referral pathways for out of court disposals that prevent reoffending as well as work on early help for those identified through adverse childhood experiences. There are some real opportunities to make a difference and I look forward to working with you to deliver a great service to our communities whilst tackling the challenges that lie ahead.