Statement by Sir Thomas Winsor, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary

The statement made this morning by the Chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales in relation to my remarks about the police response to crime is regrettably intemperate and wholly misconceived.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary has a thorough and sound understanding of the pressures faced by police officers.  Amongst other things, those pressures are financial and operational in nature.  In 2014, HMIC carried out the most thorough and extensive assessment of the efficiency and effectiveness of the police service in England and Wales in its history, having a full appreciation of the prevailing circumstances of the police.1

Contrary to the Chairman’s statement today, we have not suggested that some victims of crime deserve a better service than others.  In the interview2 on The World This Weekend, I said:  “Any crime that is reported to the police has to be taken seriously.”

I also made it clear that the police need a sound system of prioritization, so that the most serious crimes – those which do most harm to victims and communities – receive the attention they deserve.  The need for proper prioritization appears to be accepted by the Police Federation.  It is accepted by all other policing bodies and institutions, and by the public.  For example, the police and crime plans of police and crime commissioners – under the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 – are important documents to which chief constables have a statutory obligation to have regard.

In my state of policing report published on 31 March 20143, I said:

“Economic pressures, increased public accountability and public scrutiny, the changing nature of demand for police services and the need to exploit significant advances in information and communications technology will drive police leaders towards the creation of a leaner, fitter, more efficient and effective police service which is focused on the needs of the victim and the public.”  (Para 10.)

In short, if the police service is to employ fewer police officers and police staff – as it must, given the financial conditions of the country – then its efficiency and effectiveness must be improved.

In my 31 March 2014 report, I also said:

“In order to be able to meet demand with reduced resources, and maintain the quality of police services, the police service needs to ensure that it uses the most sophisticated techniques to predict demand, make the best possible assessment of the threat, harm and risk associated with circumstances and calls for service, and deploy increasingly limited resources in the most efficient and effective way.”  (Para 93)

That is what I meant when I said that police forces must work smarter because they will be smaller.

In the context of falling measured crime, I said that demand on the police has fallen.  That is a fall in measured crime and therefore the demands made by measured crime.  However, I have also made clear4 that:

“One of the most significant problems faced by society – and therefore its police – is unreported crime.  Many crimes are unreported, and of course it is impossible accurately to measure the size of the problem.”  (Para 1.15)

I have repeatedly stressed the need for the police to get upstream of offending behaviour, and give proper priority to the need to prevent crime.

In my state of policing report published on 27 November 2014, I said:

“One of the police’s primary obligations is to prevent crime.  Crime prevention can be cheaper and more effective than investigating crime; it can stop lives being lost, damaged or wasted, and it can make society a safer place.  Virtually all of the costs of the criminal justice system are incurred downstream of the commission of an offence.  Prevention is far better than cure in policing and criminal justice.  How forces approach crime prevention and how successful they are at preventing crime play an important part in HMIC’s assessment of police effectiveness.”  (Para 2.20)

In relation to the attitude of the banks to compensating victims of online fraud, in the BBC interview I did not say that this is likely to change in the future; I said that it may change.  That is incontrovertible.

It is important that the police service, policing institutions and those who represent police officers work together to ensure that policing is improved.  That requires a debate conducted in a dignified and intelligent fashion.

1   State of Policing:  The Annual Assessment of Policing in England and Wales 2013/14, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, London, 27 November 2014

2    BBC Radio 4, Sunday 4 January 2015

3   State of Policing: The Annual Assessment of Policing in England and Wales 2012/13, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, London, 31 March 2014

4 State of Policing:  The Annual Assessment of Policing in England and Wales 2013/14, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, London, 27 November 2014