Wiltshire Police taken out of ‘special measures’

Wiltshire Police has been removed from enhanced monitoring following “significant and sustained improvements” to the service it provides in the two years since the decision was taken by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

May 22, 2024
By Paul Jacques

His Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary Andy Cooke identified “several improvements” since the force was moved into Engage in June 2022.

In particular, improving the effectiveness of its strategic plans; improving how effectively vulnerable people are protected; and improving how it identifies vulnerable people at the first point of contact.

Mr Cooke said: “I am pleased with the progress that Wiltshire 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 Wiltshire Police has in place to continue making improvements. We will continue to inspect the force to make sure the people of Wiltshire are getting the service they deserve from their police force.”

Wiltshire Police was moved into the ‘Engage’ phase of the HMICFRS performance monitoring process after the inspectorate graded it as ‘inadequate’ in its ability to respond to the public, protect vulnerable people, and strategic planning.

It further described the force as ‘requiring improvement’ in a number of other areas.

Since Chief Constable Catherine Roper was appointed at the end of February 2023, the force said it has made “fundamental changes” to how it operates, including;

  • The introduction of a new policing model creating dedicated neighbourhood teams which ensure increased visibility and engagement with communities;
  • Significant improvements to the quality of investigations;
  • Increased governance around how it monitors performance and maps demand; and
  • Publication of a three-year strategic plan outlining key priorities and deliverables.

“This programme of work has resulted in an enhanced service to victims – from shorter 999 and 101 call answer times, safeguarding more people by identifying vulnerability at the earliest opportunity, better quality investigations and an improvement in the number of justice outcomes,” said Wiltshire Police.

Although the decision to remove the Engage status from Wiltshire Police is a welcome one, Ms Roper said that it will not deter the organisation from maintaining a focus on “continuous improvement” and the journey towards the force being rated as ‘outstanding’.

She said: “Today’s (May 22) news is testament to the steadfast commitment of everyone at Wiltshire Police to improve the service we provide to our communities.

“This is a significant development in our improvement journey, but it does not imply any complacency on our part – we fully recognise that much remains to improve further still.

“We know what we need to focus on and we have a detailed road map to ensure nothing distracts us from driving our improvements forward.

“However, this does represent a substantial moment in our onward journey towards our aspiration to be an outstanding police force.”

Ms Roper added: “I would like to publicly thank all my colleagues at Wiltshire Police for their support and commitment throughout this process.

“I would like to also recognise the support from our local partners and our communities. Thank you for the faith you installed in me as chief constable and the comprehensive improvement plan we established.

“The support from our police and crime commissioner Philip Wilkinson and the clear direction established within his Police and Crime Plan, has also bolstered our progress through this process.

“The assistance we’ve received from national partners and colleagues within the Engage process – including the College of Policing, the National Police Chiefs’ Council, other police forces and the Home Office – has also been fundamental in providing crucial guidance and, when required, challenge to our improvement plans.

“I look forward to sustaining our onward improvement, becoming a police force which provides an outstanding service to our communities and, above all, upholds our commitment to Keeping Wiltshire Safe.”

Now that Wiltshire Police has been removed from the Engage element of the process, the force will now enter into the ‘scan’ phase of the HMICFRS monitoring process, which involves quarterly monitoring of performance to ensure improvements are sustained.

Mr Wilkinson said that today’s announcement was excellent news and rightly highlights the hard work and progress made by the officers, staff and volunteers, of Wiltshire Police since 2022.

He said: “It has been a joint priority of Wiltshire Police and my office to ensure significant reform across all areas of the organisation to provide a stable foundation for all necessary improvements and which allows the force to function strategically but also enable it to deliver the policing service it knows it should – and which our residents want and need.

“Chief Constable Catherine Roper’s vision and leadership has meant changes are being delivered at pace within the force: a new chief officer group and taut command structure, essential strategic direction, streamlined management boards, a new performance framework and a focus on delivery of operational policing alongside an emphasis on improvements to operational corporate governance.

“This has ensured Wiltshire Police is operating as it should – enabling, and empowering, the force’s excellent officers, staff and volunteers to improve their operational performance across the board. We now need to ensure those operational improvements are sustained by improvements to our corporate support services.

“As a result, Wiltshire Police has been able to demonstrate to PPOG it is steadily and consistently improving its positive outcome rates against all crime types and is actively delivering the priorities and focus within my current police and crime plan – written after wide-ranging consultation with our communities when I was first elected.

“My immediate goal now will be to update the police and crime plan – again informed by our communities – to set the strategic operational policing blueprint for the next four years and to re-double the collective efforts of my office and Wiltshire Police to deliver on our residents’ priorities and tackle the crimes that matter most to them.

“Working together, we will continue making Wiltshire safer.”

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