West Midlands PCC rejects Home Secretary calls for police to attend all burglaries

PCC Simon Foster has criticised the expectation that police should attend all home burglaries for being rushed and uncosted

The West Midlands police and crime commissioner has rejected the expectation police should attend all home burglaries, excluding outbuildings and garden sheds.

The commitment was made by the National Police Chief Council, despite its own observation: “The number of burglaries is at an all-time low, down 51 per cent over the past decade due to increased investment by police and partners in preventing them happening in the first place.”

The commitment was made on October 5, and was a response to instructions by the Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who was in post for six weeks before being forced to resign by the now ex-prime minister Liz Truss - and then reappointed by Rishi Sunak yesterday (Tuesday, October 25).

Braverman addressed a letter dated September 24 to police leaders which stated: “The public have a right to expect that the police get the basics right. To put it simply, the public want to know that an officer will visit them after a crime such as burglary.”

But PCC Simon Foster has criticised the measure for being rushed and uncosted. He also hit out at how vague the instruction was and said it did not measure the quality of the police process, but was just “one input measure”.

Instead, Mr Foster indicated he will follow guidance in a recent report by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

West Midlands Police & Crime Commissioner Simon FosterWest Midlands Police & Crime Commissioner Simon Foster
West Midlands Police & Crime Commissioner Simon Foster

Mr Foster said: “Not only did this Home Secretary-led requirement appear to compromise the operational independence of policing, it was made without any apparent assessment of the cost of compliance, the resources required, where those resources are to come from and what the consequences are to be for the prevention and investigation of other crime, such as violence against women and girls, domestic abuse, violent crime and vehicle theft.

“Although burglaries have declined, the West Midlands has a higher rate than better funded, lower crime areas, meaning that this commitment will be more onerous here than elsewhere.

“This commitment will doubtless prompt debate about the specification for the commitment: When does it start? How long can pass after a report, before the visit takes place? Who can make a visit? How many attempts to make a visit are required?

“Most importantly, this is not a quality measure – it is just an input measure that is one part of the whole process. Attendance alone tells you nothing about the quality of the overall police and criminal justice process.

“I will hold West Midlands Police to account to ensure the strategy and recommendations set out in the Report are implemented, so as to keep the people and communities of the West Midlands safe and secure.”

Mr Foster also summarised the relevant recommendations in the HMICFRS report, which was published in August 2022. He said: “Firstly, by March 2023, forces should make sure their crime scene management practices adhere to the authorised professional practice on managing investigations for [serious crime] or provide a rationale for deviating from it.

“Secondly, by March 2023, all forces should ensure [serious crime] investigations are subject to effective supervision and direction.” Suella Braverman was replaced by Grant Shapps as home secretary.

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