WILTSHIRE Police is to be placed in special measures next week, it has been revealed.

The force is one of six to be judged as failing and in need of special help.

It comes after a recent inspection by the body responsible for police forces, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

The reasons why it has been placed into special measures, officially known as ‘engage’, is not known, but it is expected to become clear after the full report of the HMICFRS inspection is released next week.

But the news that the county’s police force, which serves more than 700,000 people and covers an area of more than 1,300 square miles, was confirmed to this newspaper by both Wiltshire Police and the region’s Police and Crime Commissioner.

The intervention to move Wiltshire Police to ‘engage’ was welcomed by Philip Wilkinson, PCC for Wiltshire and Swindon.

He said: “My role as PCC is clear: to be the public’s voice on policing, to scrutinise, challenge and support Wiltshire Police to provide an effective, efficient, policing service which meets the needs of its communities and to hold Wiltshire Police to account for the service it provides to the public.

“I am aware of, and welcome, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) intention to provide closer scrutiny to Wiltshire Police further to their recent PEEL (Police Efficiency, Effectiveness and Legitimacy) inspection, and their intention to move Wiltshire Police to the ‘engage’ phase of scrutiny.

“We remain in close contact with the Inspectorate and I will be able to make a more detailed statement once the inspection report has been published in full.”

Asked whether he would use his power to replace chief constable, Kier Pritchard, Mr Wilkinson added: "My position is clear – I have confidence in my Chief Constable to deliver any necessary changes highlighted in next week’s report. Working together, we have developed, and put in place, remedial plans to answer concerns highlighted.

“My focus as PCC is to continue to work closely with the Chief Constable, to provide scrutiny and challenge and to support Wiltshire Police in its positive response to HMICFRS’s report and position. Together we will ensure the necessary resources to provide reforms and improvements to satisfy the inspectorate as well as Wiltshire’s residents.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Wiltshire Police added: “We welcome the support this approach will offer and we will fully engage with the process.

“We remain focused on ensuring we continually improve and are able to deliver the best possible service to our communities.

“Our full inspection report is due to be published next week, at which that stage we will be able to provide a fuller response on our plans to tackle the areas of concern.”

Six of the 43 police forces across England and Wales are in the ‘engage’ phase, HMICFRS confirmed to The Guardian.

This is the highest number of forces in the engage phase simultaneously.

As well as Wiltshire, Cleveland, Greater Manchester, Gloucestershire, Staffordshire and the Metropolitan Police forces are also in engage.

It was revealed on Tuesday that 14 new failings were uncovered at the Met in an inspection.

In its most recent report, from 2019, the PEEL report deemed Wiltshire Police good in all three areas – Efficiency, Effectiveness and Legitimacy.