West Midlands Police is not carrying out its investigations effectively or managing the risk to the public by sex offenders, inspectors have said.
The government will now monitor the force closely and insist it meets with its inspectors regularly.
Home Secretary James Cleverly described it as “a failure of leadership from Labour’s West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner.”
The PCC and chief constable said they completely disagreed with the decision.
Mr Cleverly said the leadership failure was the reason the force had been placed into special measures.
“We will do everything in our power to ensure the police are keeping the people of this country safe,” he posted on X.
PCC Simon Foster apologised saying it was “completely unacceptable” if people were not obtaining access to justice.
“Action has already been taken and continues to be taken, to drive significant improvements within West Midlands Police,” he said.
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said victims of crime must be a priority
West Midlands Conservative Mayor Andy Street said the news made for “very uncomfortable reading”.
“I feel for those officers who are working tirelessly to keep us all safe, but most importantly I’m concerned for the victims of crime who must be our priority,” he said.
Earlier this month Mr Street requested the PCC powers be transferred to his office after the next Mayoral elections in May.
“I believe that move to a single point of accountability has become even more important after today.”
The police force’s monitoring level has been escalated to “Engage”, an enhanced form of monitoring, as it is “not effectively addressing the inspectorate’s concerns”, inspectors said.
It added significant improvements were needed and the force, which covers Birmingham, Wolverhampton, the Black Country and Coventry, has been asked to urgently produce an improvement plan.
His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services said West Midlands Police had failed to:
Carry out effective investigations leading to satisfactory results for victims
Work effectively to keep vulnerable people safe
Effectively manage the risk posed to the public by registered sex offenders
Manage the risk posed by online child abuse offenders effectively
Analysis, Rob Mayor, West Midlands Political Editor
West Midlands Police is the biggest force outside London, covering 348 square miles with a population of 2.94 million people.
The watchdog’s decision to effectively place it into special measures, will fuel the debate about who should be responsible for policing in the region.
Those who want the police and crime commissioner’s powers to be handed to the winner of next May’s West Midlands Metro Mayor election, say failures on investigating crime and delivering for victims are clear evidence the current model doesn’t work.
The Police and Crime Commissioner himself disputes the watchdog’s findings and puts the blame for any shortcomings on a lack of government funding.
The force does have 1,000 fewer officers than in 2010, but all expectations are that the home secretary will merge the two offices, a decision I’m told will be made in the next few weeks.
His 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 issues identified developed as a result of a previous operating model, with statistics “largely drawn” from before a new model was introduced in April this year.
He added the force was outperforming other forces in solving burglary, robbery and homicide cases.
“Although I remain respectful of HMICFRS, I completely disagree with their decision-making to move West Midlands Police into ‘Engage’ now despite providing them with recent evidence that should inform a much more comprehensive and fair assessment of the force.
“I want to reassure people that we had already identified these issues and put robust plans in place to rectify them,” he added.
Chief Constable Craig Guildford said he disagreed with the decision
It was “misleading” for the inspectorate to say victims were not safeguarded, he said and added domestic abuse arrest rates have increased from 27% to 39%, he said.
PCC Simon Foster said he was treating the matter “with the utmost seriousness and as a top priority”.
He added the cuts to policing, leaving the force with 1,000 fewer officers, had “caused immense damage to the force.”
Chair of the West Midlands Police Federation, Rich Cooke, said he had been “surprised and shocked” at the move and added officers felt undervalued by the government.
The Federation would work with the force on the issues highlighted, he added.