The claims of corruption were laid bear in a strategic threat assessment that was released under the Freedom of Information Act.
We asked Chief Superintendent Chris Todd, West Midlands Police head of professional standards department, a series of questions about that report and this is what he said.
1) Q) What is the current estimate for the number of Organised Crime Groups (OCGs) operating in the West Midlands Police area including those from other force areas that overlap there? Has that number been increasing year on year or is it static or reducing?
A) "We have 87 active OCGs recorded in West Midlands Police.
We also have four from Staffordshire, seven from Warwickshire and five from West Mercia impacting the West Midlands. I don’t have the data from further afield at this time. These numbers remain steady year to year with fluctuations within control limits that would be expected."
2) Q) It says in the report that the most common form of corruption intelligence is disclosure of information (DOI).
How many DOIs were there for this year and last year please?
Of those, how many were reports of disclosure to criminals? Of the total how many were linked to organised crime?
A) "From October 2017 to Oct 2018 there were 82 allegations/pieces of information concerning DOI and from October 2016 to October 2017 there were 85 allegations/pieces of information concerning DOI. Oct 17 to Oct 18 there were 66 reports that were criminal in nature and 78 in Oct 16 to 17. Oct 17 to 18 37 had a link to OCGs, and 36 in Oct 16 to 17."
DRAMA: Chris Todd asked on Twitter in April if Line of Duty was more fact or fiction (BBC)
3) Q) It says in the report that often the nature of the disclosure is unknown. That being the case is this a problem West Midland Police has lost control of? If no, please explain how that is not the case if police information is being disclosed to organised crime groups and the force is unable to tell what information was disclosed?
A) "No. Intelligence is often non-specific and low-graded.
Proportionate investigations into this type of intelligence may not prove or disprove the allegation, meaning that the disclosure has to be recorded as unknown as a potential disclosure cannot then be negated."
4) Q) It says just over a quarter of the date referred to operational compromise - over the past two years how many operations and/or prosecutions have had to be dropped as a result of DOI?
A) "Operational compromise can take different forms, however I am not aware of any specific prosecutions that have been dropped as a result of any compromise investigated by the counter corruption unit.
Many operational compromises are referred to us in an attempt to identify the source where it is unknown. Where the nature is unknown and not proven, corruption naturally remains a hypothesis. No operations or prosecutions have been dropped as a result of DOI compromise in the last two years."
CORRUPT: Former West Midlands PCs Wahid Husman (left) and Tahsib Majid were jailed in 2017 for selling information on drug dealers to rival criminals (WMP)
5) Q) What is being done to limit the threat to West Midlands Police of corruption linked to organised crime and specifically infiltration of the force by criminals or their relatives/associates or DOI to criminals?
A) "Security in all aspects of business and public life is about layers. Corruption prevention in policing is the same. The first layer is vetting of all officers and staff. We have a prevention and intervention team within the professional standards department which seeks to raise awareness internally and externally and we provide a variety of channels to enable people to report. This includes an internal confidential corruption line and externally in confidence through Crimestoppers. We establish a culture within the organisation through our vision of values that discourages behaviours that would likely support corruption and this is underpinned by the nationally adopted code of ethics. Our counter corruption unit also undertakes proactive work to root out any corruption that might nevertheless take place, despite this layered approach to security in WMP."
6) Q) The fact that DOI is the main issue being raised by intelligence, and that half of that is linked to OCGs, this appears to be a serious threat to the force. However, during your Line of Duty Twitter Q&A, you appeared to downplay the issue of corruption within West Midlands Police as something minor. Why was that the case? Do you think that by comparing the force to a fictional one about corruption could have been seen as cheapening the issue? Or was it done to engage more people due to the popularity of the program?
A) I think the limited impact that corruption has on the operational effectiveness of WMP as described above demonstrates that despite the occurrences is indicative of our effectiveness in mitigating corruption where it does occur and in preventing the volume of instances.
Each occurrence is one too many but in an organisation of almost 11,000 employees, the instances really are few and far between. No – this was purposely done to raise awareness not just of counter corruption work, but of the professional standards department as a whole. Line of Duty presented an opportunity to engage with a wider audience whilst it attracted such widespread attention and gave us the opportunity to use myth busting as a means of engagement. Over the one weekend the social media engagements through that concerted campaign resulted in 70,000 engagements.
Some of the interactions were light-hearted, were people were naturally interested in the comparisons between the TV representation and the real role. Others were more considered and curious and indicated that this means of communication really has helped raise awareness amongst groups that we might never otherwise have engaged with. Others had very specific queries relating to personal circumstances and whilst I couldn’t deal with the detail in such a forum, it was evident that by being open, honest and transparent with some people who had clearly not had a positive experience of policing in the past, the assurance that policing and certainly myself, my team and my force are willing to listen and learn, was well received."
THREAT: Chris Todd says corruption is low at West Midlands for its 11,000 staff (WMP)
7) Q) The report says that in the interests of inclusion and diversity, it has changed its vetting standards to help people from certain communities, who may have low-risk connections within the community, to help them with the recruitment process. Some will see that as adding extra risk for the sake of political correctness to meet diversity targets.
But is there an element of thinking behind it that people who have some knowledge of street gangs etc through community ties may be a useful asset to the force?
A) "We do indeed want to encourage people from diverse groups to engage more openly with WMP, to work with WMP and to join WMP. Having people within our organisation with cultural competence – that understand the lived experiences of people within our communities that we serve - enables us to provide a more relevant and professional service. This should never compromise our high levels of professional standards, but we must appreciate that many people born into and living in challenging environments are good people with much to offer their community and if we can make reasonable adjustments that enable them to realise the opportunity to join us, then we should."