I have written this blog several times in the last few weeks and restarted it as things keep changing.
Let’s start off with good news
On Thursday I was pleased to join PCs Lorna Walsh and Adam McWalter at the Police Federation Bravery Awards. They both faced up to men armed with knives. They, and colleagues from London were recognised for their bravery.
On the subject of bravery, and sadly sacrifice, this year I am cycling the West Midlands Chapter of the Police Unity Tour. This cycle ride is 200 miles over three days and raises funds for the Care of Police Survivors charity. WMP participation has been quite low and I would be keen to see more of us join this event. This year it looks like it will be Gill Wall from Intelligence, Richard Cooke from the Police Federation and I. Sponsorship is welcome and here is our just giving page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/wmpput2019. Try to imagine me flogging myself up a big hill as Richard lobbies me for more TASER!
Operation Fort was perhaps the most high profile investigation we have seen as a force for sometime. Eight people were jailed for a combined total of 55 years for a horrific and long running human trafficking operation that may have involved up to 400 victims. Absolute credit to DCI Nick Dale and his team. It has shown us just how terrifying this crime is. These hidden crimes have become a growing and very demanding part of what policing now does.
The growth in hidden crimes has been accompanied with a rise in historic investigations. The current investigation into the Birmingham Pub Bombings is the most high profile but last week an inquest into the death of eight year old Helen Bailey identified her unlawful killing. I am grateful for the team who have brought this back to the Coroner to get the truth. I am determined, with both cases, to do our best to bring people to justice.
Whilst these are high profile cases I know we are feeling the squeeze in other areas of investigation and the PPU. We do not have enough people to investigate every case and crime recording rules means we are recording things we would not have done in the past.
Which brings me to the title of this blog.
If you have followed the news you will have seen the recently appointed PM talk about an extra 20K police officers. Whilst this is not yet government policy I do think this is very close to arriving at this point. Decisions on this could well be made shortly.
Having been a force in the most severe austerity since 2010 we are now looking at how we make a shift to a force that has space for investment. A number of consequences fall from this:
We are very stretched at present. High demand for service, a critical phase in our change programme as we roll out new technology, the build-up of Commonwealth Games staff and Project Guardian are creating some gaps.
As a result, work is taking place now to bridge gaps in numbers quickly. Police officers take time to recruit. An injection of extra Police Staff Investigators and PCSOs may help plug this gap quickly and enable us to balance police officer numbers over a slightly longer period. In the next few weeks we will be very clear on how many police officer posts we will grow in WMP between now and April 2020 and how we are going to do this. Our aim is to get our operating model up to strength first.
What will then follow is a period of assessment of where additional investment may be needed. Our vision is Preventing Crime, Protecting the Public and Helping Those in Need. This means there will be a priority for areas where we can reduce crime and harm, protect people by bringing more to justice and reducing the threat from violence. We will need to assess investments of new officers carefully.
Our change programme ethos will start to shift. More emphasis on projects to improve how we work such as Project Guardian that will not only tackle violence but help us learn how to work to our best. A greater focus on achieving more with the new technology we will have delivered in 2019-20.
Finally on this technology point. You will hear very soon from our head of IT and D of our plans to roll out mobility wider and deeper than ever before. Already new phones are hitting response and NPUs but this roll out will see tech changes for investigators and a shift away from desktop computers. I shall not steal Helen Davis’s story but this is exciting and will happen quickly. This month’s Team Talk asks you to discuss whether you are making the most of the tech we have invested already… with more to come, this is an important conversation.
As a possibly different future emerges it remains vital your voice and your ideas count. A good start has been made with the Innovation Fund. There is still plenty of money in the pot. Let’s hear from you.