West Mercia Police has been rated 'inadequate' in its response to serious and organised crime according to a report by a force watchdog. 

The report was published by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) today (Tuesday, May 14) and covered the West Midlands regional response to serious crime. 

This includes offences such as drug trafficking and supply, cybercrime and robbery. 

West Mercia Police, which serves Herefordshire, Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, and Worcestershire, is one of four forces responsible for tackling these crimes across the region. 

The report found that West Mercia Police has structures and sufficient specialised resources in place, which have been boosted by significant funding from the PCC, to tackle offending and assess threats well, but that improvements are needed in some areas, leading to an overall rating of inadequate.  

Following the report, West Mercia Police said it remains committed to tackling serious and organised crime and bringing criminals to justice in line with Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) John Campion’s Safer West Mercia Plan. 

Temporary Chief Constable Alex Murray reiterated the disappointment with the grading and acknowledged that more work was needed but that significant changes had already been made in the 11 months since the inspection took place.  
Chief Constable Murray said: "Whilst I am, of course, disappointed with the grading given, I accept that there are more improvements we need to make in the way we tackle serious organised crime.

"The inspection was a review of our work in 2022 and the beginning of 2023 and we’ve already made some significant changes. In the last 12 months we’ve seen crime reduce, including a 10% decrease in robbery, more crimes detected, significant investigations concluding with lengthy prison sentences for offenders and ultimately less victims of crime in the areas we serve. 

"We are dedicated to disrupting and dismantling organised crime groups; in the past year we’ve arrested 484 people and seized drugs with an estimated street value of almost £1million and almost £300,000 worth of cash.

"167 weapons have been taken off our streets and 164 people have been safeguarded. Our communities will also have seen outcomes of significant investigations on our social media channels and in the local press, such as the February sentencing for county lines drug dealers to a combined total of more than 40 years in prison – just one example of the positive results we are seeing in pursuing offenders."

Areas identified for improvement included their work with partners, use of analysis and the need to enhance the wider workforce’s understanding of tackling serious and organised crime. 

Chief Constable Murray added: "Since the inspection we have put clear agreements in place with our community safety partnerships to ensure data and information is shared and the threat of serious and organised crime is fully understood by all agencies.

"A comprehensive programme is being progressed to further develop the skills and capabilities of those responsible for disrupting and dismantling organised crime groups through the 4P (Pursue, Prevent, Protect, Prepare) framework and improve the way best practice is highlighted and recorded."
A national multi-agency tactic to tackle serious and organised crime threats through neighbourhood policing and partnership working, known as Clear, Hold, Build, has been launched in Oswestry this year with plans to extend the approach to other areas.   

Updates on work to tackle serious organised crime can be viewed by following #OpTarget on the police social media channels.