Wiltshire Police has again been graded as ‘good’ in all three key areas in an annual report.
The annual inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) looks into police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy (PEEL).
It considers whether forces keep people safe and reduce crime (how effective a force is), whether these activities are sustainable and provide value for money (how efficient a force is), and how forces are ensuring their officers and staff behave fairly, ethically and within the law (the legitimacy of a force).
Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon Angus Macpherson welcomed the annual report and has praised officers and staff for the dedication shown every day to the communities they serve.
The report findings have been announced just days after official statistics revealed that Wiltshire saw a drop of 3 per cent in the number of overall recorded crimes between January 2018 and December 2018 – compared to the previous 12 months.
Angus said: “This report is yet another endorsement of the service Wiltshire Police provides to our communities across the county and I am extremely proud of what is being achieved.
“Running, and maintaining, an effective and efficient Force is no mean feat and it is testament to the hard work and dedication I see across the Force each day.
“This year’s inspection was also undertaken during one of, if not the, most demanding and challenging years in the history of the Force.
“Thankfully, I was able to increase the precept which enabled me to invest more money into our Community Policing Team model. Specifically, it has enabled me to increase the number of Community Co-ordinators across the county who are an integral link between the Force and the public.
“It is also in spite of the funding imbalance we see from Government which means Wiltshire is one of the poorest funded Forces in the country.
“I am particularly pleased that the report acknowledges the support available to our most vulnerable people – a key priority for me has been to put victims and witnesses at the heart of everything we do. I am pleased to see this has been recognised, along with the investment the Force is making in tackling emerging criminality – such as cyber-crime.
“Of course, there is no room for complacency and to maintain these ratings I will ensure the Force continues to drive up standards both externally and internally.”
Despite being graded as ‘good’ in all three areas, the inspector did rate the way the Force tackles serious and organised crime as ‘requiring improvement’.
Specifically, the report suggests the Force needed to improve its longer-term approach to managing organised criminals and groups. This is an area where work has already begun and the Force has undertaken a detailed review of this area. As a result, stronger partnerships with other local agencies have now been forged, a multi-agency plan of action has been created and a dedicated, local officer will now focus on each of the organised crime groups operating within the county.
The report does, however, acknowledge that the Force ‘understands the threats posed by serious and organised crime’ and ‘has structures and processes to assess the level of those threats’.
Chief Constable Kier Pritchard said: “This annual inspection provides a clear indication that we continue to head in the right direction both in terms of the service we provide to our communities and the supportive environment we foster for our officers, staff and volunteers.
“I am particularly pleased that the inspection identified the excellent work my teams do to engage with the communities we serve – in times of cutbacks and decreasing budgets, it is more important than ever that we communicate effectively. I remain fully committed to listening to the public and being as honest and transparent as we can.
“When you stop to consider the enormity of the challenges we faced in 2018 when we were inspected, it makes our rating seem even more incredible. The Novichok poisonings last year led to us being under the international spotlight for months on end. Despite this pressure, all our officers, staff and volunteers ensured our daily business was completed and our service to the public was undisrupted.
“I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to everyone who works for or with Wiltshire Police – I am immensely proud to serve as your Chief Constable. I would also like to thank the public for their ongoing support for Wiltshire Police.”
Highlights from the report:
On dealing with vulnerable victims:
‘Wiltshire Police is good at understanding and identifying vulnerable people’ and ‘the force has a helpful strategy that clearly sets out the principles of its approach to dealing with, and protecting, people who are vulnerable. This helps the force identify where harm is likely to occur, including hidden harm and forms of exploitation that may exist in local communities.’
On tackling crime:
‘Wiltshire Police is good at prioritising its work to tackle serious and organised crime (SOC). The force is responding to the growing impact of cyber-crime and digital crime on its communities.’
On planning for the future:
‘The force is acting to manage future demand by intervening early, and by working with its partner agencies in areas such as mental health and troubled families. Wiltshire Police has clear ambitions to improve. These focus on maintaining and enhancing its local policing model and responding to demand.’
On engaging with our communities:
‘The force works hard to engage with the public. It is committed to improving community confidence and policing through active participation. This builds on the high level of public confidence reported in recent survey data.’
Supporting our staff:
‘Wiltshire Police has continued to develop and improve its understanding of workforce wellbeing.’