Posts Tagged 'Police and Crime Commissioner'

Tell it like it is… (2/2)


Playing with fast cars and fancy kit is definitely one of the better bits of joining the police.

You were thinking of applying to join us as a police officer, you then read yesterday’s blog about the drawbacks of policing and are now feeling depressed and are thinking about giving up, right?

Wait there, potential student police officer!

If things were as bad as all that, I don’t think I’d be doing the job myself and that I am and doing so happily suggests actually, there are some pretty good things too about being a police officer.

What are they then?

Why here is a random list designed to emphasise that whilst there were definitely some things highlighted yesterday that you need to consider, they in no way take precedence over the below -

  • Make a difference – You’ll be in a unique position in which you will be able to make people’s lives considerably better. It’ll be down to you to help people put their lives back together and it’s easy to underestimate how much of a difference you’ll be able to make to people at their lowest ebb by providing to them the best, most professional service that you can. You may see problems in your community – drug dealing, vandalism, anti-social behaviour – here’s your chance to do something about it.
  • Chance for personal development – With the opportunity to step into people’s homes and meet a wide cross-section of the community, you’ll find that your world view is challenged and perceptions you may have held about, say, prostitutes and drug dealers, is challenged when you find yourself speaking to them and seeing the circumstances that lead people into crime in the first place.
  • Excitement – Driving a police car at high speed, diving through red lights and then chasing a suspect on foot with the helicopter hovering above you can be just a little exciting. You’ll get to do things in the first weeks of your service that most people won’t do in their entire lives and whilst it’s not Point Break every day, some shifts come close.
  • Help serve the public – Whilst it may not feel this way all the time, everything you do in the course of your role as an officer will ultimately benefit the public and be worthwhile as such which is a hugely rewarding feeling.
  • Opportunities for progression – West Midlands Police is the second largest force in the country and as such, there are roles inside the organisation that even I don’t know about having done the job for a few years now. We have dog units, firearms units, detective teams, a group of officers whose job it is to ensure planes don’t get shot down at Birmingham Airport. We have football spotters, gang specialists, officers specialising in conducting searches, a helicopter, collision investigators. The list goes on and on and if you fancy, there’s a chance to progress up the ranks also.
  • Important work – This is the reason I joined, I wanted to do something that I felt to be important and to do it well. I can finish work with the satisfaction of being able to say someone who has been making a victim’s life a misery is going to court entirely because of my own work on the case. I used to work at a hotel and satisfaction would be ‘I laid the tables quite neatly’ or ‘I refilled the printer pretty well’. There’s no comparison!
  • Responsibility – You’re often going to be the first person on the scene of major incidents, it’s going to be down to you to quickly assess what’s happening and decide what to do. You may have to prepare cases to go up to Crown Court and give evidence, you’ll likely be sent to serious crimes in the first instance and the actions that you take in the first few minutes of arrival can make a huge difference to how things progress further down the line. This amount of responsibility may feel daunting at first, you’ll develop the confidence to feed off it though.
  • More than just a job – Teams tend to be quite close and there’s a fair amount of socialising too. Colleagues are friends and if you’re feeling active, there’s plenty of sports and social activities to pick from. It’s a tight-knit community and one that you’re likely to be very happy as a part of.
  • Good conditions, pay – The take home pay isn’t too bad and there are chances for overtime, there’s a decent pension waiting at the end of your service too for when you’re a bit longer in the tooth and telling all the new recruits about how things were in ‘your day’.
  • The X Factor – Police officers get discounted tickets to go and watch The X Factor being filmed. Joke! In terms of the things that you’ll see and do, from your first arrest to the moment you put on the Chief Constable’s epaulettes (when he’s not looking), there is simply no other job that comes anywhere close to The Job. That’s why they call it ‘The Job’.
  • Sexy uniform and handcuffs – …

What I’d want you to take away from both my ‘think carefully’ and my ‘join immediately’ lists is that policing is a worthwhile, exciting job and whilst  it’s not for everyone, the people who it ‘is for’ are very happy and would likely recommend taking the opportunity to join.

If you think it is for you then, go and express an interest on our recruitment website and as I’ve said, if you’re still not sure and want to know more then please ask and I’ll be more than happy to try answer.

Tell it like it is… (1/2)


The constant watch – one of the less appealing sides of ‘The Job’.

So you’re looking to join the police as an officer because you want to fight criminals and punch crime on the nose, right?

Great! Is that what you’ll be doing all the time? No!

Designed to be read in conjunction with the following blog on the positive sides of being a bobby, this blog is designed to set out some of the drawbacks of doing the job so that new applicants have an accurate view of what the job really involves.

It’s in no way designed wanting to put people off, only to present the honest information that any potential applicant needs to know to ensure policing is the career for them.

In no order other than a rambling, whatever came to mind first type order, here are some of the less appealing sides of ‘The Job’ -

  • Going home on time – A 15:00 finish time on the rota means that, right? Oh no! There will be times when you’ll find yourself come finishing time still at a custody block on the other side of the force area with a list of things to do longer than both of your arms put together. Your advertised finishing time is best seen as a ‘suggestion’ and you’ll join knowing that from time to time you’ll be sacrificing your evening plans.
  • Flexibility – Leading on from the first point, you can be called into work at short notice and shift patterns changed with a snap of the Chief Constable’s fingers. This won’t be a regular thing but in response to extraordinary events (riots etc), you can very quickly find days off cancelled and hours extended.
  • Danger – Something that lurks around every corner, the work of a police officer is inherently dangerous and we do sometimes get hurt as a result. You will at some point get attacked, car accidents are always a risk with response driving and in the course of saving life and limb, you’re going to face some very risky situations.
  • Abuse – There are plenty of people who will hate you for no reason other than the uniform. Shoplifters will abuse and spit at you. You’ll be taught new swearwords by prisoners in the cells. It isn’t personal but it’s not nice either – a thick skin is a must.
  • Crime in reality – You may think a police officer saves good people from the bad criminals. We do, also though we have to attend when Person A with seventy previous convictions calls to make a very suspect report  that Person B with the same amount of convictions has wronged him in some way. Many of the calls you’ll attend will be very dubious in nature, you’ll not be told the full details by either side and often will find that when you delve a little deeper, there’s not a crime in the first place. This can be frustrating but it’s part of the job, for every ‘genuine’ call there’ll be several ‘I’m calling the police because I’m locked out of Facebook’ jobs to sort out.
  • Stress – One minute you’ll be in a patrol car talking about doughnuts, the next you’ll be faced with twenty people brawling in a pub and it’ll be down to you to sort it out, all whilst the radio is chattering away in your ear and you’ve got twenty different accounts of what’s happened. You’ll be required to make decisions there and then and everyone will be looking to you to know what to do.
  • Boredom – Think standing on a crime scene for ten hours is exciting? How’s about watching some sleep in the corner of a cell for an entire shift whilst on constant observations? It isn’t! Whilst there will be exciting moments, you’ll have some shifts where the clock moves very slowly indeed.
  • Missing breaks – A busy night on a response shift might mean your meal will be a petrol station sandwich half  eaten on the forecourt being being sent to the next job. Break times are set out but as with finishing times, they are ‘suggestions’. Overall the busy times are balanced out by other shifts during which nothing happens but even so, this won’t make any difference to you on the shift that you don’t get a moment’s rest.
  • Dealing with the injured and the dead – If you don’t feel comfortable with the sight of blood, policing may not be right for you as there can be a lot of it. I’ve seen people with stab wounds down to the bone, I’ve had to help funeral staff lift a cold body onto their trolley and I’ve seen crime scenes that give the Saw films a run for their money. Crime isn’t pretty and you’ll be faced with this reality up close.
  • Taking the job home –  Again leading on from the above, you’ll see some things that will stay with you beyond your tour of duty. They’ll come home with you and whilst there’s plenty of good support available, you may find some experiences looking to set up camp in your head.
  • Workload – Policing can be a busy occupation, the workload can be high and it’ll be down to you to manage your time effectively and ensure that the four court files you have are submitted on time as well responding to jobs on the radio and making everyone a lovely cup of tea.
  • Frustration – Things won’t always go to plan, sometimes you’ll meet people who you know full well are guilty but have to let them walk free without charge. There’ll be nothing you can do about it and you’ll have to grin and bare it as you let someone out the cells as they cheerfully boast and tell you that they’ll ‘see you soon’.

So those are some of the drawbacks to consider but don’t despair, there are good points too which I’ll write about tomorrow!

I’d also add that even the above considered, I’d still recommend the job without any hesitation at all.

It’s not for everyone and the above give an idea of why it’s a ‘job like no other’, this is not to say that it’s not an excellent job as I think most officers would agree that it very much is and a privilege to do.

Found a job…

Police Class Photo

It will shortly be recruitment o’clock for new police constables – what do you need to know?

According the cheap Casio digital watch that I wear to work, the time is currently ‘recruitment o’clock’.

Now lots of people over the past few years have asked me ‘when will recruitment o’clock be?’ and I’ve always had to say ‘I’m not sure’, the reason being that I wasn’t sure.

Now though, times have changed.

As you’ll see from the news flash over on our website, Bob Jones, our Police and Crime Commissioner, has confirmed that over the course of the next two years we’ll be looking to recruit 450 new police officers.

This is exciting as it’s been five years since people have been able to apply to join as constables and I think it’s fitting that I am able to write about the new vacancies considering that I was on one of the last intakes before recruitment closed last time round.

Because I’m sure that there’ll be a great deal of interest from people wanting to become rozzers, I thought it might be useful to give some insight into what the role is actually like (good and bad) to help potential applicants make an informed decision.

As such, I plan to write this blog (I’m writing it now, watch!) in which I’ll give a few general considerations and then two following, one of which will highlight the positive points of being an officer and the other which will show some of the drawbacks.

I’ll write honestly as it’s a huge step to join the police, it’s a big commitment and with the job not being for everyone, it’s only fair that people interested in the vacancies know what they’re letting themselves in for.

Right then, in bullet point format here are some general considerations you’ll want to ‘considerate’ -

  • Physical fitness is important. You’ll need to not only pass a physical assessment but also maintain a decent level of fitness so that you’re able to pass the annual fitness test.
  • It isn’t all paperwork but a lot of the work we do is on computers. A decent grip of IT would be a great benefit as much of the work you do in the station is digital.
  • The application process can be a long one. I don’t know how things will run this time round but for me it was two and a half years between posting my form and putting on my uniform.
  • As I’ll stress in coming blogs, it’s not for everyone and nor is it easy. It requires a real commitment and you join knowing that you’ll meet people who will hate you from the off, that at some point you may be abused, attacked and still have to respond professionally when you find this happening to you on the wrong side of a long night shift.
  • You’re going to be held to a very high standard and will be expected to act accordingly. Wearing the uniform may enable to arrest someone, at the same time though the uniform expects of you that you act with the integrity, honesty and professionalism.

You’ll be able to register you interest in joining West Midlands Police from February 10th and can find out more about the applications over on our recruitment website.

The site has a FAQ and enables you to ask questions also which on the topic, I’m happy to answer questions too if you fancy leaving a comment on this blog, tweeting at me or going onto The Facebook and leaving your query there.

I can’t answer specific questions about the application process as I’ll not know the answers (use the recruitment website for those), but I’ll try to accommodate general queries as best I can and over the next few days, will be uploading the two aforementioned blogs about the realities of doing the job so stay tuned!

A house is not a home…

Walsall Police Station under construction in 1965. As part of our recently announced estate review, we’ll be looking at how best to use our buildings.

The best part of twenty years before this fresh faced officer was born, workmen from W. Kendrick and Sons Ltd were scurrying around what was then a building site on Green Lane, Walsall, to build the ‘H’ division a new HQ.

State of the art for its time, the new base featured a shooting range, billiards room and a fountain in the front office that functioned as both an aquarium and an impromptu bath, depending on who was using it.

As Kev Pitt writes on his beard-strokingly interesting blog about the construction of the station, the total cost for the build came to £444,979.

Fast forward to the current day and whilst the building has served us bobbies well, it now costs more per year to maintain than the entire station cost to build in the first place, not adjusting for inflation.

As I’ve written previously, it’s owing to these sort of economics, alongside the fact that the station is in dire need of an update, that we’ll be moving out of Green Lane over the next few months.

The reshuffling due to take place forms part of the wider estate review announced by PCC Bob Jones on Monday under which the force’s bean counters will be examining our 140 properties with a view to reducing the £17.5 million cost associated with maintaining them.

Areas to be examined include how we’re currently using our buildings, the long term maintenance costs and whether we could save money by finding ‘room mates’ such as the local council with whom to split the bills.

On the latter point, it’s something that’s already happening in Solihull and has been very successful thanks to a well organised washing up rota and understandings that police officers take out the rubbish once a week and that councillors buy a new carton of milk when they finish the old one and don’t have the TV on too loud late at night.

Furthermore, the reshuffling also takes into account our move towards ‘super blocks’ with our living history cells at Steelhouse Lane being shut accordingly.

The estate review will take place in four phases taking us into the distant future-scape of 2015 and we’d be keen to hear from yourselves on how the proposals might affect you.

You can contact us through a range of different methods by clicking here, I’ll keep you updated on the project too with a special focus on what’s happening at Green Lane as and when I hear more.

I make mistakes that I learn from ’cause I’m young…

Some of Paris Brown’s tweets were ill-advised sure, but wasn’t her youth – and the experiences that come with it – why she was picked for the YPPC job in the first place?

A quick post this and one I’ll start by stating firstly that I think Ann Barnes has rightly condemned Paris Brown’s tweets as being ‘silly’ and ‘offensive’, secondly I’ll add that I’d not usually go for Tulisa lyrics for my blog titles but in this case, it’s appropriate…

As you’ve likely seen in the news over the past couple of days, shortly after seventeen year old Paris Brown was given the job of Youth Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent Police, The Mail on Sunday ran a story in which they published a series of historic tweets from Paris’ personal Twitter account.

The controversial tweets made the headlines, a clearly upset Paris made a public apology and her boss issued a statement of support for Paris, rejecting calls for Paris to be removed from her post.

The role of Youth Police and Crime Commissioner was to bridge the divide between young people and the police. It aims to provide representation for young people to help promote inclusiveness in process of making decisions about how the force is run and what its priorities ought to be.

Many of the people that we deal with are younger and whilst officers and those making decisions about how the force operate try to be as inclusive and approachable as possible, I can see that having someone from a younger background available to facilitate communication and understanding could be quite invaluable.

To do the job well, it stands to reason that said person needs to be young themselves so they can honestly claim that they’ve got the credentials to speak for the younger members of the community that the force polices.

They need to be able to illustrate how the experience of growing up today is very different from that of what youth would have been ten or twenty years ago – they need to reflect what ‘it was different in my day’ really means.

The qualification that this background of youth gives at the same time affords the person some leeway to make mistakes – an essential part of the experience that they represent.

Find a seventeen year old candidate for YPPC who’s whiter than white and you’ll have found someone who’s not right for the job.

Instead, pick a teenager who has made mistakes that he or she regrets and will learn from and you’ll have a candidate in a much better position both to represent the thousands of other young people making similar mistakes, and to help give the advice that represents those people’s experiences.

P.S. This blog from A Dragon’s Best Friend I thought was interesting in terms of the context under which young people use social media and the consequences, it’s well worth a look.

Power to the people, right on…

It’s less than 200 days until the first Police & Crime Commissioner elections but did you also know it’s under 100 days until the start of the Olympics? (Image from London 2012)

It’s less than one hundred days to go until the start of the 2012 Olympic Games. You’d know that, were it not for the fact that the celebration of this milestone was so completely overshadowed by the news that it’s less than two hundred days until you have the chance to vote in a Police & Crime Commissioner.

Yes, elections are really that close. Can you believe it?

Okay, I jest – there’s a good chance that many people didn’t know that elections for the new position are to be held on November 15th.

It may seem a long way off but trust me, with all the excitement of England winning the Euros and Team GB hoarding gold medals in London, the big day will be here sooner than you realise.

I’ve already written about the plans to replace Police Authorities with single elected representatives and at the end of the article had promised to post updates as and when we know more about the vote.

Well, with the two hundred day milestone being celebrated with street parties up and down the country now seems like a good time to do so.

First of all, if you missed November’s post on PCCs and don’t fancy reading it now (even if it does feature Batman), the basic idea is that Police & Crime Commissioners will have responsibility for overseeing their local police forces. They’ll be able to set priorities for the police and hold the Chief Constable to account.

This job is currently done by a panel of bods drawn from a variety of sources who are known as the Police Authority.

At the moment PCC candidates are jostling amongst each other for their party’s nomination, a process which I assume involves speed eating competitions, bleep tests and possibly musket duels.

In the Labour camp for the West Midlands there’s Mike Olley and Bob Jones. For the Conservatives, Joe Tildseley seems to have the nod and for the Liberal Democrats, Ayoub Khan has expressed an interest in running.

Of course these are early days and as a week is a long time in politics, over the twenty eight something weeks leading up to the elections the selection of candidates could well change completely.

There’ll be further information published ahead of the elections themselves – most important on how and where you can vote – and there are a number of websites on which you can find more information on PCCs.

The Top Of The Cops blog has a news feed dedicated to stories on PCC elections and has individual pages for each of the police forces involved – you can find the West Midlands’ section here.

Our own Police Authority has dedicated a section of its website answering some key questions about PCCs and the Home Office has a site too providing further updates.

As the election campaigns begin to pick up speed, it’s going to be interesting to see what issues candidates decide to concentrate on to attract interest. Keeping bobbies on the beat, reducing response times and cutting paperwork all seems to be popular topics from looking at their pledges.

Just as important too will be how they seek to make good on these pledges and I’m sure as we near the elections discussion will grow around many of the topics being raised.

As I ended the last post on PCCs, I’ll end again by saying that as soon as we know more about the elections, the candidates and the issues I’ll try and pull the information together in the form of another sassy blog. Until then stay tuned…

All together now…

Meet The BeatChief Superintendent Phillip Kay, Lloyd House, Birmingham West and Central LPU

There’s been a great deal of discussion recently in the news over proposals by some police forces, West Midlands included, to look at how they can work with businesses to help improve the service they offer to the public.

The basic idea is that by working with private companies, the police can take advantage of their expertise to work more efficiently and free officers from duties that may not necessarily require a police officer to do – standing on crime scenes or collecting CCTV for example.

Some of the coverage, however, has included suggestions that such proposals will lead to a ‘privatisation of the police‘ and could affect police accountability.

What is the reality though? For this special Meet The Beat interview I sat down with Chief Superintendent Phillip Kay, head of the West Midlands Police Business Partnering Program, to ask exactly what the program is all about and to address some of the concerns raised.

Chief Superintendent Phillip Kay

Welcome to Meet The Beat, as we usually ask can you tell us a little about your background with the police? Where have you worked prior to starting in your current role?

I have twenty three years police service, I started as a PC in Coventry back in 1988. I did a variety of roles there in uniform and CID, I was promoted to sergeant at Steelhouse Lane and then went back to Coventry as a sergeant. I then went on promotion to inspector with Northumbria police and spent six years up there working in Sunderland, South Shields and at Headquarters and was promoted to Chief Inspector.

I came back to West Midlands Police and worked as a Detective Chief Inspector in Wolverhampton before being promoted to Superintendent and being responsible for covert policing. After that I became Chief Superintendent in charge of operations for a while before becoming an LPU commander up until last December.

I then started on the Business Partnering Program having been asked to run the Program by the Chief Constable – I see it as an exciting and challenging opportunity to be at the cutting edge of British policing. I’m motivated by serving the public, making a difference and working out how to do things better and I think the program represents a fantastic opportunity for us.

I understand why people are a bit unsure and uncertain about it but I think the potential for us to do things differently is massive.

Much of what you do as a PC is incredibly similar to what I did as a PC in Coventry twenty three years ago – I know some of that will remain fairly constant but the world that we police has changed massively, the rise of social media and access to the internet for example, has changed hugely and yet the way we go about our business in many ways has remained the same and so part of the drive behind the program is to transform that and do things differently.

Okay, so leading on from that, how could you best sum up what the business partnering program is?

Well let me start off by saying what it’s not – some of the media coverage suggested that this was about us handing over patrolling the streets to security guards, about handing over the arrest of members of the public to private companies, about us privatising policing and it’s not that at all so the public can be reassured that their neighbourhood officers and PCSOs will continue to be their neighbourhood team and that officers will continue to attend to emergency calls. None of that will change and we’re not about to hand that over.

In terms of the companies we’re looking to partner with, this isn’t just private security companies – many of the companies that have expressed an interest are world leaders in IT, Human Resources, business transformation – really big names. It’s about looking at the way we do business, from start to finish, and asking how could we do that differently? How could we do that better?

We’re looking from receipt of a call for service up to an incident being resolved – are there ways that we could radically transform that so that the public get a better service, so the public get more choice?

To give an example, at the moment if you want to report a crime you’re essentially limited to picking up a phone or walking into a front office. What opportunities does the internet and technology present to people? If you want to track the progress of an investigation at the moment the only way to do so is to pick up a phone. When I order products online I can track the progress of the parcel anywhere in the world – why can’t a victim of crime have access to a system like that for investigation updates?

So we’ve talked about the way we do things at the moment and the way we might be looking at doing things in the future – are you able to say how you could see us doing things differently in, say, five years?

This is a difficult question to answer, partly because we’re currently in a formal procurement process. A key stage of that is called competitive dialogue which is where we sit down with a potential partner and we share information with them about what we do so we’ll say, for example, this is how we investigate a certain crime, this is how successful we are, and they then come up with proposals for innovative ways through which we could do business.

It’s difficult to answer the question because if we had the answers now, we’d not be looking for partners in the first place. Essentially the position is that we think there are proposals out there that are going to be radically different and the exciting thing is waiting to see how that progresses.

What we’re really keen to do is doing as we’re doing now, talking to people like yourself and other operational cops because there will be people out there who have really good ideas and proposals that we can make use of*.

A lot of the media coverage had focused on the document published which gave details on the type of roles that we are considering as fit for involvement with private companies. There was some concern as the list of activities including responding to incidents, detaining suspects and investigating crimes – can you tell us a little more about that document and are those areas that are being considered as capable for being taken on by private companies?

That’s referring to the notice placed in the Official Journal of the European Union which is a document that we published to inform the market that we want to procure services.

What we used to list the services that we were considering is something called the police glossary which is a document operating on a range of different levels and sets out activities that are undertaken by the police and enables us to draw comparisons between what an activity costs in place in comparison with elsewhere.

The idea of keeping it broad was partly because you can’t add things later – once the document is published you’d have to start the procurement process again if you wanted to add something.

Which would have an implication on cost?

Absolutely, so we kept it broad because what we wanted to do was to encourage providers to be as creative and as innovative as possible. It has never been our intention that a private security guard would go on patrol in a neighbourhood, however in terms of patrol, is there something that the private industry could provide that would help officers patrol more efficiently? Quite possibly because, for example, through the analysis of data in an advanced way we might be able to better understand when and where we need to be patrolling and gain a better control over our resources.

That was why the notice was so broad – so that we didn’t have to make costly additions which may slow the process down and because we don’t want to look at our business in a restricted way.

Thinking about crime reporting it’s important to consider how many departments become involved – response, the contact centre, forensics, the Crime Services Team – so many different points are touched. Rather than looking at what we do in a function by function way, we want to look at the end to end process to see where we can make an impact.

Are there other forces who are already working with private partners? What are they doing and how does it work?

Twenty other forces (out of forty three) already have relationships with private organisations, predominately in an outsourcing way. This is where you take a chunk of your business and give it to someone else, they then do it do the same standard but for less money.

This is different from what we want to do – we’re not just trying to do things for less, we’re trying to do them better. Other forces have outsourced shared services, custody suites are a big one and Cleveland have outsourced their contact centres. There are lots of examples already of the police working with the private sector and so the concept is not new – we think that what we’re trying to achieve with the partnering arrangement and the outcome of this relationship is different.

A lot of the discussion around the proposals of the business partnering program have surrounded the concept of ‘privatisation of policing’ – is this the likely outcome of the program?

Okay, two things – it’s not privatisation, it’s not outsourcing and I think what’s been put in the media and what people’s general perception about the proposals are that they’re about privatising policing and it’s not. It is about trying to work with a private sector partner who may have money to invest, intellectual property (skills, experience, expertise), IT, that we don’t have that by combining their skills, experience and resources together with ours gets us to a position where we’re able to deliver an enhanced service to the public. It’s not privatisation – I really want to stress that.

There’s also been some concern that where the reliance on private companies increases, the accountability of the police force and the Chief Constable decreases – is this an issue?

Accountability is a key issue and the Chief is really clear that he will always remain accountable to the Police and Crime Commissioner and the community of the West Midlands for the service that is provided. In any contract that we draw up and in any partnership arrangement that developments, this accountability will be at the very heart of it and the Chief will retain control of those resources.

Is the need to save money an influence on the business partnering program?

The reason for the program first and foremost is about improving service. We do need to be mindful that in this Comprehensive Spending Review we have plans in place that will enable us to save £126m over a four year period however the business partnering program has not been established to make these savings as they’ve already been planned for.

We don’t know what lies ahead though and so doing our business in a way that makes the very best use of our resources makes absolute sense and helps us prepare for the future.

What sort of timescales are we looking at for any changes that may be introduced? Are we at the beginning of the program?

It’s important to remember that this isn’t a done deal – any changes are subject to police authority scrutiny as we progress and will have to be signed off by a Police and Crime Commissioner. We will be engaging and consulting with the public as we go along and we would like an informed debate so that the public know what this is about. People need to understand that it’s not about privatisation, it’s not outsourcing and it’s not about private security patrols on the streets of the West Midlands – that’s absolutely crucial.

Some of the proposals would see front line officers relieved of duties that can tie them up for long periods but that do not necessarily require a police officer to do – watching crime scenes and retrieving CCTV footage for example. Might cell watches be included too?

This is about protecting the front line. The more efficiently and effectively we can perform the back and middle office functions, the better informed we are and able to use technology then the better off we will be.

There’s a danger of using specific examples as we don’t want to give people the impression that the examples are definitely going to become reality, however, imagine you had a tablet PC and you attended a burglary. You could take a photograph of the point of entry, complete the crime report and statement electronically with a digital signature, email the details off to CID and forensics straight away and then you could email the victim their crime number and some crime prevention advice too. You could give the victim an access code so that they could track the progress of the investigation online and notify their insurance company straightaway.

Such a system would be significantly cheaper and the victim will have received a much better quality of service. In addition you wouldn’t as an officer have to come back into the station as everything’s been done at the scene and you patrol time is increased. This is a hypothetical example but it does show the potential for making positive changes to how we operate through working with private companies who may be able to provide the equipment and expertise to implement such a system.

*If you’re a member of WMP reading this blog and would like to provide feedback on Business Partnering or have a suggestion on how we could improve our service, please drop an internal email to Sgt. 7857 Heidi Bell.

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