What we do

Promoting improvements in policing and fire & rescue services to make everyone safer

For over 160 years, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary independently assessed and reported on the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces and policing – in the public interest.

In summer 2017, HMIC took on inspections of England’s fire & rescue services, assessing and reporting on their efficiency, effectiveness and leadership. To reflect this new role, our name changed to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

We ask the questions that we believe the public wish to have answered, and publish our findings, conclusions and recommendations. We use our expertise to interpret the evidence and make recommendations for improvement.

We provide authoritative information to allow the public to compare the performance of their police force and fire & rescue service against others. We also routinely monitor the performance of police forces in England and Wales.

We inspect across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. We also inspect law enforcement arrangements in British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies, on invitation from the relevant government, as well as non-territorial services, specialist agencies and international police forces.


Our principal role is summarised in our statement of purpose:

To promote improvements in policing and fire & rescue services to make everyone safer.

Inspecting policing and fire & rescue services in the public interest

The public want the police and fire & rescue services (FRSs) to succeed in their duties to keep people safe and secure. It is in the public interest that the quality of policing and fire & rescue in England, Wales and Northern Ireland keeps improving.

At HMICFRS, we inspect, monitor and report on the efficiency and effectiveness of the police and FRSs with the aim of encouraging improvement.

By providing accessible information on the performance of forces and FRSs, we allow their public, and peers, to see how they are doing. This will place pressure on those forces and FRSs requiring improvement in aspects of policing and fire & rescue to raise their game.

We will always try to see policing and fire & rescue through the public’s eyes. We will use consumer ‘watchdog’ tactics, such as mystery shopping, and ask the public, in surveys, what they think about policing and FRS and where they want to see improvements.

Our reports are clear, jargon-free, accessible, measured, objective, statistically reliable and authoritative.

We also continue to provide high-quality professional advice to the police and FRSs, using experienced officers and other subject-matter experts to identify the best practice from which all forces and FRSs can learn to improve their performance. We encourage operational excellence and a good deal for the public in terms of value for money.

We carry out many force and FRS inspections and visits on a regular and rolling basis, and publish our findings on this website. Our reports on broad policing and fire & rescue themes and specific subjects – from terrorism and serious organised crime to custody arrangements – can all be found in the publications section.

Much of our police work relates to the mainstream police forces in England and Wales, together with the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the British Transport Police. However, we also inspect other law enforcement bodies, including the National Crime Agency and HM Revenue and Customs. Our FRS inspections focus on the effectiveness, efficiency and people of the 45 FRSs in England.

In relation to the inspection of Home Office police forces, our inspection regime and processes are explained in Inspection of the performance of Home Office police forces. In due course, we will publish a corresponding document in relation to the inspection of fire and rescue services.

The remit and decision-making processes of the Board of the inspectorate are explained in Board remit and decision-making.

HMICFRS and the Public Sector Equality Duty

Our purpose is to make equality and diversity considerations a routine part of everything we do, whether it is in relation to our role of inspecting policing in the public interest, interactions and treatment of our staff, or holding forces to account.

As a listed body, HMICFRS will, within all our inspections, give consideration to inequality and, where identified, make recommendations to improve experiences in support of the Public Sector Equality Duty. These recommendations can be found in our publications.

For further information about the Public Sector Equality Duty, please see the Equality and Human Rights Commission website.