West Midlands Police's plans for policing have been described as "outstanding" by the national police watchdog. The latest report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary for England and Wales (HMIC) also highlights the tougher cuts being faced by West Midlands Police, compared to the rest of England and Wales.

The force's five-year change programme WMP2020 - a strategic partnership with industry experts Accenture - is considered "ambitious and far-reaching" by HMIC inspectors. The project sees a shift from reactive policing to a more preventative approach, with robust offender management, tackling problem families, and a partnership response to issues like mental health central to the switch in style.

HMIC inspectors - who named West Midlands Police as one of only five 'outstanding' forces in England and Wales - also pointed to the force's commitment to embrace new technology.

David Jamieson commented: “This independent report recognises that West Midlands Police have done an outstanding job in the face of disproportionate cuts. The impact that the austerity cuts have had on West Midlands Police remains a massive challenge.

"Our funding and the expected cuts in the Comprehensive Spending Review remain our biggest single challenge. This independent report recognises the huge efficiencies already made and our sensible plans for the future.

"I must be clear though; further disproportionate cuts above the levels already set out will be robustly challenged, as they would leave West Midlands Police in a very difficult position."

The modernisation drive includes plans for an online crime reporting and case tracking facility, plus a move to equip officers with mobile technology linked to police systems that will allow them to access information while en route to emergencies or at crime scenes.

HMIC highlighted that, as part of the new preventative approach, West Midlands Police is analysing demand 'hotspots' and undertaking problem-solving in these locations to reduce demand.

The report praises the force's mental health triage scheme - the only one of its kind - which teams psychiatric nurses, police officers and paramedics. This scheme has achieved £642,000 a year in efficiency savings, whilst providing on-the-spot help for people in crisis.

Since 2010, £146 million has been cut from West Midlands Police's budget - equating to around 22 per cent of the total - and police officer numbers have been reduced by almost 1,500. Further similar spending cuts are expected by 2020.