How we inspect

HMIC’s PEEL assessments are designed to provide a year-on-year comparison, so that you can see how each police force’s performance changes over time, in relation to other forces.

The questions that make up the PEEL assessments do not remain exactly the same each year, and must adapt to changing priorities and circumstances in policing.

Choose a page from the list on the left to see for each year:

  • the specific question sets;
  • any consultations we ran;
  • the surveys we carried out; and
  • other information specific to that year.

This page sets out the grading criteria used for the PEEL inspection, covering:

PEEL pillars

PEEL assessments are broken up into three pillars:

  • effectiveness;
  • efficiency; and
  • legitimacy.

These pillars consider whether forces keep people safe and reduce crime (how effective a force is), whether these activities are being carried out at the most appropriate cost (how efficient a force is), and how forces are ensuring they have the confidence of their communities (the public legitimacy of a force).


HMIC’s effectiveness inspections make an assessment of how well forces are preventing and investigating crime and anti-social behaviour; tackling serious and organised crime; and protecting victims and those who are vulnerable. These are the most important responsibilities for a police force, and are the principal measures by which the public will judge the performance of their force and policing as a whole.

Read more information about the latest effectiveness inspection


HMIC has been tracking the progress of police efficiency since 2010, initially through our programme of Valuing the Police inspections. In 2014, this programme of inspections was replaced by the PEEL efficiency inspections.

HMIC considers a police force to be efficient if it is making the best use of resources to provide policing services that meet expectations and public priorities, and if it is planning and investing wisely for the future. HMIC gathers evidence across ‘core questions’ which reflect those areas of policing that we consider to be of particular interest and concern to the public.

Read more information about the latest efficiency inspection


HMIC defines a legitimate force as one whose staff and officers are seen by the public consistently to behave fairly, ethically and within the law. It seeks to identify and resolve issues relating to fair and respectful treatment by the police.

Read more information about the latest legitimacy inspection

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HMIC’s graded judgments

Forces are assessed and given graded judgments. The categories are:

  • Outstanding;
  • Good;
  • Requires improvement; and
  • Inadequate.

Judgment is made against how efficient, effective and legitimate the force is at keeping people safe and reducing crime.

Good grade

Good is the ‘expected’ graded judgment.

  • Good is based on policy, practice or performance that meets pre-defined grading criteria that are informed by any relevant approved professional practice, standards or approved practice.
  • If the policy, practice or performance exceeds what is expected for Good then consideration will be given to a graded judgment of Outstanding.
  • If there are shortcomings in the policy, practice or performance and it does not meet what is expected for Good then consideration will be given to a graded judgment of Requires improvement.
  • If there are serious of critical failings of policy, practice or performance and it does not meet what is expected for Good then consideration will be given to a graded judgment of Inadequate.

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Pillar judgments

Each pillar (effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) is broken up into a number of core questions. Here is the most recent question set for the PEEL 2016 inspections.

Each pillar and core question, unless stated otherwise, is graded using the graded judgments set out above.

The starting point for arriving at an overall pillar judgment is to aggregate the core question judgments.

For example, two core questions judged as Good and one as Outstanding would normally result in an overall pillar judgment of Good.

The judgment is then adjusted to reflect the following:

  1. If one or more core questions within a pillar are judged as Inadequate, the overall pillar judgment will be no higher than Requires improvement.
  2. If one or more core questions within a pillar are judged as Requires improvement, the overall pillar judgment will be no higher than Good.
  3. The overall pillar judgment will reflect how close core question judgments are to the edge of the grade boundaries.

    For example, if HMIC judged two core questions as a very low Good and a third as very low Requires improvement, the most appropriate overall pillar grade would be Requires improvement.

    This will be particularly relevant when the aggregate of the judgments for the core questions lies on a grade boundary.

    For example, two core questions are Good and two core questions are Requires improvement.

    HMIC will set out in the force report narrative the rationale for awarding a particular graded judgment in all cases where the proximity of core question judgments to the grade boundary is a salient factor.

  4. HMIC does not routinely give one or more core questions within a pillar more weighting than others. However, there may be instances where a degree of weighting is appropriate because of the context of an individual force or significance of a particular inspection question. Where such an adjustment is made, the rationale will be set out in the force report narrative.

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Impact of Crime data integrity grades

In summer 2016, HMIC published the first reports of a rolling programme of crime data integrity inspections (CDI). These inspections give a graded judgment of forces on their compliance with the Home Office Counting Rules.

We use the following principles to determine how CDI judgments are taken into account in arriving at PEEL judgments:

  • For each police force, HMIC will take findings from the most recent CDI inspections into consideration when arriving at PEEL judgments for each of the three pillars.
  • A CDI judgment must have been moderated to affect a PEEL judgment – i.e. a force’s CDI inspection must have been moderated before the PEEL moderation.
  • A CDI judgment cannot be retrospectively applied to a moderated PEEL judgment.
  • The CDI judgment must be considered at the level of the core questions. If one or more core questions are affected by the CDI judgment this may, in turn, affect the pillar judgment. Where a core question has been influenced by a CDI judgment, it will be explicitly stated in the PEEL report.
  • Each PEEL core question judgment can only be affected once by the given CDI inspection. As PEEL pillars are inspected in two tranches per year, it is likely that the CDI inspection will be considered in two PEEL years (e.g. CDI reports moderated before autumn 2016 would be reflected in the autumn 2016 and spring 2017 inspections).
  • Discussion about how CDI judgments influence PEEL judgments must be accurately recorded as part of PEEL moderation.
  • Explicit reference must be made to a CDI judgment in the final HMI assessment published alongside the State of Policing. If a CDI report is considered as part of inspection tranches in separate PEEL years, explicit reference to the CDI judgment must be made in the HMI assessment for both years.

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Areas for improvement, causes of concern and recommendations

HMIC identifies:

  • areas for improvement; and
  • causes of concern – with an accompanying recommendation.

Areas for improvement

If HMIC’s inspection identifies an aspect of a force’s practice, policy or performance that falls short of the expected standard, it will be reported as one or more area(s) for improvement.

Area(s) for improvement will not be accompanied by a recommendation.

Causes of concern

If HMIC’s inspection identifies a serious or critical shortcoming in a force’s practice, policy or performance, it will be reported as a cause of concern. A cause of concern will always be accompanied by one or more recommendations. HMIC will recommend that the force(s) (and sometimes other bodies) make changes to alleviate or eradicate it.

Due to the serious nature of these shortcomings, HMIC will regularly review force progress (and the progress of other bodies, where appropriate) in alleviating or eradicating a cause of concern. The method and timing of this review will be determined by the precise nature of the cause of concern.

HMIC has already applied this approach to making recommendations to PEEL inspections and is currently rolling out the process to other thematic and joint inspections. In the case of joint inspections that are not led by HMIC, this approach will be advocated.

How areas for improvement and causes of concern relate to graded judgments

The following table shows how areas for improvement and causes of concern affect the awarding of graded judgments:

Graded judgment of core question Cause(s) of concern and accompanying recommendation(s) Area(s) for improvement
Outstanding no no
Good no possible
Requires improvement possible yes
Inadequate yes possible

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