THE chief constable of West Midlands Police has said he "completely disagrees" with a decision by an inspectorate to move the force into an enhanced level of monitoring.

The decision was announced today (Friday) after the force was inspected by His Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

The watchdog raised concerns about how the force manages investigations, how it safeguards vulnerable people and how it manages sex and child abuse offenders, moving it from the default "scan" level of monitoring to "engage".

WMP said many of the issues identified related to a previous operating model, with statistics "largely drawn" from before a new model was introduced in April this year, and that it was outperforming other forces in solving burglary, robbery and homicide cases.

His Majesty's inspector of constabulary, Wendy Williams, said: "We move police forces into our enhanced level of monitoring, known as Engage, when a force is not responding to our concerns, or if it is not managing, mitigating or eradicating these concerns.

"The Engage process provides additional scrutiny and support from the inspectorate and other external organisations in the policing sector to help the police force improve and provide a better service for the public.

"West Midlands Police has been asked to urgently produce an improvement plan and will meet regularly with our inspectors.

"We will work closely with the force to monitor its progress against these important and necessary changes."

The inspectorate said that while it was assured the force is taking steps to address concerns, "significant and sustained improvements" were needed.

The force's next inspection report is due to be published in early 2024.

WMP Chief Constable Craig Guildford said: "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.

"Our job now is to ensure the plans we have already implemented expeditiously address HMICFRS' concerns.

"When I joined WMP in December 2022 I set some clear priorities as I recognised there needed to be a significant improvement in the force's performance, the number of offenders brought to justice and the service we provide to local communities.

"It was for this reason that I implemented a rapid overhaul of the operating model and in April 2023 we created seven new local policing areas, each of which has local responsibility for responding to calls for service and investigating offences.

"Since implementing this new model, changing force contact and opening two more custody suites, our arrest rate has increased by a third, as has the number of offenders brought to justice. This continues to improve each month."

Mr Guildford also said it was "misleading" for the inspectorate to say that victims were not safeguarded and that domestic abuse arrest rates have increased from 27 per cent to 39 per cent.

The force also answers 70,000 999 calls a month in an average of five seconds, with "significant reductions in crime", Mr Guildford said.

He acknowledged issues around the force's management of sex and online child abuse offenders, but said these had been identified and were a "legacy" of the force's previous operating model.

He also accepted that "investigations need to improve further" but said the force had a "detailed plan" to achieve this.

The West Midlands police and crime commissioner, Simon Foster, said he also disagreed with the inspectorate's decision and the inspection was "in many respects a reflection of 'what was' rather than 'what is'".

He said: "Action has already been taken and continues to be taken, to drive significant improvements within West Midlands Police. That includes: transforming 999 and 101 performance and the largest crime reductions by volume of any force in the country.

"I have been repeatedly warning the Government that its reckless cuts to policing, which even after the so-called police uplift, left West Midlands Police with 1,000 fewer officers than it had in 2010, have caused immense damage to the force.

"Today's announcement by His Majesty's Inspectorate is yet further evidence of the damage inflicted on West Midlands Police and the people of the West Midlands by the government.

"I trust the Government can appreciate the consequences of its own actions."