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Staffs Police out of special measures

Staffordshire Police has been taken out of special measures after nearly two years following improvements to its investigations and how it deals with the public. The force was escalated to enhanced monitoring under the ‘Engage’ process in July 2022 after HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) found it was failing to identify vulnerability at the first point of contact, and that it was not carrying out effective investigations or giving victims enough support.

But HMICFRS says that Staffs Police has now made enough progress to address these concerns, and the force has been returned to standard monitoring. Chief Constable Chris Noble says these improvements have resulted from a ‘back to basics’ approach, with more local policing and higher stop-and-search and arrest rates, along with better training for control room staff.

He thanked his officers and staff for their efforts over the last two years, but said further improvements would be needed in order for Staffs Police to become an ‘outstanding’ force.

Chief Constable Noble said: “Our contact staff and responding staff had real challenges around the amount of calls that were coming into the contact centre – we’re actually dealing with nearly 20,000 more 999 calls than we were back in 2022. The improvements have come through really good leadership, the commitment of staff, new people joining, enhanced training, and a real focus on the quality of the phone calls as opposed to just picking them up really quickly.

“It’s about understanding the vulnerabilities of people on the call, referring them where’s there’s no need to prioritise and dispatch – the inspector said this work was among the best in the country.

“Our responsiveness to the public has also improved on the ground – despite the fact that we’ve now got 10,000 more emergency calls to respond to, we’re getting to them quicker. A lot of that has come from going back to a local model of policing, and getting cops closer to the communities. They work in their communities all day. They get to know what’s going on, they know where the hotspots are, they know where vulnerable people are, they know what the local ne’er do wells are.”

Chief Constable Noble said that simply having more officers was having an impact in areas such as investigations. The force had previously seen one of the biggest workforce cuts in the country, going from more than 2,300 officers to fewer than 1,600, but it was now building back up to around 2,000.

Chief Constable Noble added: “When it comes to investigation, having more officers is pretty fundamental. We also have better training for supervisors, more effective early response, and we’re being stronger around preventing crime in the first place.

“The key thing for me is that these improvements are going to be pretty enduring, whether it’s how effectively we respond to the public or how effectively we investigate crime. This is not the end for us. It just gives us an opportunity to build on these things.

“Some of the sharpest critics of policing work within the police. My staff, on a daily basis, have told me how frustrated they are that they can’t deliver a better service. That is something I need to listen to because they’re the people who know policing the best.”

Inspectors closed the cause of concern over responding to the police in December, after finding improvements to the assessments carried out at the first point of contact, which were supported by a ‘comprehensive auditing regime’.

Following further inspections between February and May, the inspectors also closed the cause of concern over investigations. They found that investigation were now receiving higher quality supervision, and there was better compliance with the code of practice for victims of crime.

Staffordshire Police still has ‘inadequate’ ratings for both responding to the public and investigating crime, and for managing suspects and offenders, along with ‘requires improvement’ ratings in six other areas.

His Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary Andy Cooke said: “I am pleased with the progress that Staffordshire Police has made so far. Whilst there is still more to do, I have decided to remove the force from our enhanced level of monitoring, known as Engage, and return it to routine monitoring.

“I am reassured by the plans Staffordshire Police has in place to continue making improvements. We will continue to inspect the force to make sure the people of Staffordshire are getting the service they deserve from their police force.”

Ben Adams, Staffordshire Commissioner for Police, Fire and Rescue and Crime, welcomed the inspectorate’s decision. He said: “Today’s decision by HMICFRS to remove the force from the Engage process is testament to the wide-reaching improvements made by Staffordshire Police. This has only been possible due to the hard work and commitment of all the officers and staff here in Staffordshire, led by Chief Constable Chris Noble and his team, and I’m delighted to see that this hard work has been recognised by HMICFRS.

“This is a significant step forward by Staffordshire Police as they rapidly improve, and I will be closely monitoring the force’s performance on behalf of the communities of Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent to ensure that this momentum is maintained.”

Stoke-on-Trent South MP Jack Brereton said: “I am very pleased to hear that His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary have taken Staffordshire Police out of Engage monitoring and that we have started to see significant improvements to police services throughout Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire. I know that every member of staff in the Staffordshire Police has, and continues, to work tirelessly to ensure we have a high standard of policing in our county to keep our communities safe. I will continue to work with all parties and look forward to further working with the police in their ambition at being an ‘Outstanding’ police force.”


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