Policing the crimes of today with the methods of yesterday
“Although performing well in many respects, the police are falling behind the curve of rapidly changing criminality, policing the crimes of today with the methods of yesterday and insufficiently prepared for the crimes of the future”, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary (HMCIC) said as he published his annual assessment on the state of policing today.
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Alongside the publication of the annual assessment, today is the first time the public will be able to see at a glance how well their police force is cutting crime and providing value for the £13 billion spent on policing. This new web tool was launched today.
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HMCIC Mr Winsor said:
“Police officers are a dedicated and brave group of men and women with an unfailing commitment to public service. But the force that many of them joined bears little resemblance to the force that is required now and in the future. The capabilities of the police have fallen behind the crime threat in recent years and these need to improve if the police are to get ahead of the curve of rapidly changing criminality.
“The landscape in which police forces are operating has changed beyond recognition in recent years and continues to evolve quickly. Unreported crime such as cyber crime and crimes against vulnerable people, the most disturbing of which is child sexual exploitation, is not an emerging threat: it is here now. The police need to learn the lessons from the past and improve the prevention and detection of such crimes. The response to child sexual exploitation in particular will require strong leadership to overcome the cultural and institutional barriers that have hampered the response so far.
“Almost all crime has a technological aspect to it now and the capability to deal with this cannot therefore be the prerogative of the specialist officer; every officer needs an understanding of it and the capabilities to deal with the cyber crime they encounter.
“My concerns about police capability should be seen in the context of the fact that our assessment found that police forces perform well in many other respects: we were particularly impressed by the way that many of them are: tackling anti-social behaviour; preventing crime; and responding to financial cuts.
“However, the quality of leadership, supervision and management at all levels, will need to adapt to the new environment if the police are to meet the challenges they face in improving capabilities, meeting the needs of victims and becoming ever more efficient and effective.”
HMIC found that the police are too focused on dealing with crimes they are used to dealing with, rather than the crimes that victims experience or report. The response to new and emerging crimes will not improve sufficiently unless the police place the victim’s experience at the centre of their service. Basic investigative skills and victim care need to improve as do the capabilities the police to tackle unreported crime such as cyber crime and child sexual exploitation. Police leadership will need to adapt to enable the police to meet these challenges.
This is the first time that HMIC has provided to the public this level of information, and represents the first annual assessment of Police Effectiveness, Efficiency and Legitimacy (‘PEEL assessment’). Alongside our concerns about police capabilities, victim care and leadership, we also found that there was much that the police are doing well.
In relation to effectiveness: 40 forces are good or outstanding at preventing and reducing crime; and 41 forces are good or outstanding at tackling anti-social behaviour which represents an impressive improvement since our last inspection in 2012. However, only 24 forces are good at investigating crime.
In relation to efficiency: 40 forces are good or outstanding in the extent to which they provide value for money in the context of the current spending constraints. However, we are concerned about the: gradual erosion of neighbourhood policing; and the fact that forces are only now starting to consider how to improve productivity by identifying and analysing demand.
In relation to legitimacy: public perceptions of the police remain generally good, but the services received by the public and by victims can vary considerably; professional standards departments and anti-corruption units are generally good at dealing with the information they receive, but improvements are needed to improve the way in which threats and risks of corruption are identified and acted upon.
Next year, we will provide a greater range of graded judgments to go alongside our inspection findings so that the public will have even more information about how well their force is performing. We will also be telling the public how well those forces that needed to improve this year have, in fact, improved – especially in those areas where we have greatest concern: the need for improved police capabilities and victim care and police leadership that has adapted to match today’s and tomorrow’s crime fighting threats and demands.
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- HMIC independently assesses police forces and policing activity – ranging from neighbourhood teams though serious crime to the fight against terrorism – in the public interest.
- In November 2013, the Home Secretary asked HMIC to develop and implement a new programme of annual all-force inspections with a view to assessing the effectiveness and efficiency of policing in England and Wales.
- HMIC has developed these – called PEEL police (effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessments.
- For the 2014 assessments, each force has been assessed against these three themes; police efficiency, effectiveness and legitimacy.
- In 2015, HMIC will be in a position to give forces one of four judgment grades – outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate – for each of these areas.
- The Police Act 1996, requires Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary to report each year on his assessment of the efficiency and effectiveness of policing in England and Wales.
- For further information, HMIC’s press office can be contacted during office hours from 8:30am – 5:00pm Monday – Friday on 0203 513 0600.
- HMIC’s out-of-hours press office line for urgent media enquiries is 07836 217 729.