The region’s police force needs to answer 999 calls and respond to incidents quicker, a watchdog said.

 West Mercia Police was told it was not answering 999 calls quickly enough and needed to attend to incidents faster by His Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) following an inspection in June.

The delays remained a “cause for concern” by the police watchdog – two years after inspectors warned that the force needed to improve how it investigated crimes, supervised investigations and updated victims.

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Inspectors congratulated West Mercia Police on improving how it updated victims but said the force had not improved how it supervised investigations – a cause for concern for HMICFRS in 2021.

The force was also told it needed more work to stop so many people abandoning 101 calls for taking too long.

Inspectors said nearly half of the incidents they investigated were not attended to on time and more than a fifth of 101 calls were also abandoned – well above the five per cent standard.

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West Mercia’s acting deputy chief constable Richard Cooper said: "We're pleased to see a sustained and significant improvement in several areas including our compliance with the Victims' Code of Practice which focuses on the rights of victims.

"Despite a continued focus to improve our investigative standards we acknowledge and share the concerns raised by the inspectorate.

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"We welcome the independent oversight and scrutiny from HMICFRS in this area which will help us to refocus on meaningful improvement.

"Since the initial inspection took place in late 2021, we have invested in and continue to invest in investigative skills training for both new and existing officers, changed our process to improve co-ordination and introduced sergeants dedicated to overseeing investigation quality.

"We're pleased to hear that in all of the calls reviewed by the team, our contact handlers dealt with callers professionally and with empathy.

"We do recognise though the amount of time it takes to answer calls needs to improve and we are currently changing our approach to ensure this happens."

Wendy Williams, His Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary, said: “We found that West Mercia Police has made progress against some of the cause of concern recommendations that we focused on in this revisit.

“But it needs to do more in relation to supervision and the allocation of investigation plans.

“The force needs to improve how it responds to the public, particularly in how effectively it answers 999 and 101 calls and attends incidents.

“We will continue to monitor the force’s performance in these areas.

“While I congratulate the force on the progress it has made, the existing cause of concern will remain.”