- By Vanessa Pearce
- BBC News, West Midlands
Inspectors said West Midlands Police failed to carry out investigations effectively or manage the risk to the public by sex offenders.
The government will now monitor the force closely and require them to meet regularly with inspectors.
Home Secretary James Cleverly described it as “a failure of leadership by West Midlands Police and Labour’s Crime Commissioner.”
The PCC and police chief said they strongly disagreed with the decision.
Mr Cleverly said a failure of leadership was the reason the force was put into special measures.
“We will do everything in our power to ensure the police keep the people of this country safe,” he posted on X.
PCC Simon Foster apologized and said it was “completely unacceptable” that people were denied access to justice.
“Action has been taken and continues to be taken to drive significant improvements within West Midlands Police,” he said.
West Midlands Conservative Mayor Andy Street said the news made “very uncomfortable reading”.
He said: “I feel for the police who are working tirelessly to keep us all safe, but most importantly I worry for the victims of crime who must be the priority our flagship”.
Earlier this month, Mr Street asked for the PCC’s powers to be transferred to his office after the next Mayoral election in May.
“I believe moving towards a single point of accountability will become even more important after today.”
Inspectors said the police force’s level of supervision had been raised to “Engagement”, an enhanced form of supervision, because it “did not effectively address the inspectorate’s concerns”. “.
It added significant improvements were needed and the force, which covers Birmingham, Wolverhampton, the Black Country and Coventry, had been asked to urgently come up with an improvement plan.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services said West Midlands Police had failed to:
- Conducting effective investigations yields satisfactory results for victims
- Work effectively to keep vulnerable people safe
- Effectively manage the risk posed to the community by registered sex offenders
- Effectively manage risks caused by online child abuse crimes
Analysis, Mayor Rob, West Midlands Politics Editor
West Midlands Police is the largest force outside London, covering an area of 348 square miles with a population of 2.94 million.
Those who want the powers of the police and crime commissioner to be handed to the winner of next May’s West Midlands Metro Mayoral election, say a failure to investigate crime and deliver for victims is Clear evidence that the current model is not working.
The Police and Crime Commissioner himself disputed the watchdog’s findings and blamed any shortcomings on a lack of government funding.
The force has 1,000 fewer officers than in 2010, but it is widely expected that the Home Secretary will merge the two offices, a decision I understand will be made in the coming weeks.
Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary Wendy Williams said the process would provide additional security and support from the inspectorate.
Chief Constable Craig Guildford said many of the problems identified were due to the previous operating model, with statistics “largely drawn” from before the new model was introduced in April this year.
He added the force is outperforming other forces in solving burglaries, robberies and murders.
“While I still respect HMICFRS, I strongly disagree with their decision to move West Midlands Police to ‘Engage’ now despite providing them with recent evidence to inform their assessment much more comprehensive and equitable take on the force.
He added: “I want to reassure people that we have identified these issues and put in place robust plans to fix them.”
The ombudsman’s claim that victims were not protected was “misleading” and the domestic abuse arrest rate had increased from 27% to 39%, he said.
PCC Simon Foster said he was treating the matter “with the utmost seriousness and as top priority”.
He added cuts to the police force, leaving it with fewer than 1,000 officers, had “caused enormous damage to the force.”
West Midlands Police Federation chairman Rich Cooke said he was “surprised and shocked” by the move and added that officers felt undervalued by the government.
He added that the Federation would work with the force on the issues highlighted.