The region’s police force will only improve if more money is spent on staff, kit and vehicles, a union has said.

West Mercia Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers in Worcestershire, has warned that West Mercia Police will not improve without greater investment after it was criticised for not responding to crime quickly enough.

The federation’s secretary Pete Nightingale said a recent inspection of West Mercia Police, which highlighted the force was not answering 999 calls or responding to incidents quickly enough, was not a reflection of officers who were ‘busier and working harder than ever before.’

The force first needed “adequate” staffing as well as more vehicles and kit to improve, Mr Nightingale said.

He also said the force’s lacklustre IT system created more work for officers and staff.

“This report is not a reflection on individual officers, who are working tirelessly to serve our communities,” he said.

“Our frontline supervisors are working harder than ever before and demand for our services is spiralling - we’ve busier than ever before.

“We need to invest in training, adequate staffing, and appropriate supervisor to staff ratio to help improve the service and meet the high standards that the people of West Mercia expect.

“We also need investment to ensure that officers have enough vehicles and the appropriate kit to be able to perform their role.

“And we need stability in terms of IT provision, which over recent years has had a negative impact on the service and increased work pressure on officers and staff.”

The region’s police force was told it needed to answer 999 calls and respond to incidents quicker 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.

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.

Following the inspection, West Mercia’s acting deputy chief constable Richard Cooper said: "Despite a continued focus to improve our investigative standards we acknowledge and share the concerns raised by the inspectorate.

“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."