Police forces have made some progress in how they identify, manage and monitor integrity issues: but more remains to be done
A report published today finds that the police service has responded to the recommendations in HMIC’s 2011 report, Without Fear or Favour: but more needs to be done, and with a greater sense of urgency.
In 2011, the Home Secretary asked Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) to examine and consider “instances of undue influence, inappropriate contractual arrangements and other abuses of power in police relationships with the media and other parties”.
While the resulting report, Without Fear or Favour (published 13 December 2011), found no evidence that corruption was endemic in police relationships with the media and others, it did not issue a clean bill of health. In particular, HMIC was concerned that few forces provided any policy or guidance in relation to key integrity issues, such as how the police should interact with the media, the acceptance of gifts and hospitality, what second jobs officers and staff should be allowed to do, and the use of corporate credit cards. The report made several recommendations to help the service tackle these issues.
In 2012, HMIC revisited all forces to assess progress against these recommendations. The thematic report published today, Revisiting Police Relationships: A progress report, contains the principal findings of this further work.
Without Fear or Favour provided police forces and authorities with specific recommendations in relation to the identification, monitoring and management of potential concerns and vulnerabilities in matters of integrity. While some progress has been made, particularly by putting in place processes and policies to manage threats to integrity, more needs to be done. The pace of change also needs to increase, not least to demonstrate to the public that the police service is serious about managing integrity issues.
In particular, HMIC’s findings show that more needs to be done by the police service to establish and intensify high degrees of conscious self-management of integrity issues.
Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) should assure themselves that they have effective governance structures in place to hold forces to account for their progress in making sound arrangements in connection with matters of integrity.
The report makes the following key recommendations:
- The evidence shows that progress is inconsistent across forces and more needs to be done with a greater sense of urgency if the public is to have confidence that the service takes integrity matters seriously and is gripping them effectively. Therefore, in addition to scrutiny of chief officers by PCCs, there continues to be a need for independent external scrutiny by HMIC, including unannounced inspections.
- There was little evidence of force professional standards departments checking and challenging chief officers in connection with issues of integrity. A more transparent and challenging environment needs to be created. PCCs may wish to assure themselves that their forces are nurturing such environments with effective internal scrutiny and challenge.
- More robust and auditable corporate governance arrangements are required if the new accountability arrangements are to work effectively. These need to differentiate clearly the roles and responsibilities of chief officers and PCCs.
- The College of Policing should quickly develop sound professional standards for training and development in connection with issues of integrity.
HM Inspector of Constabulary, Roger Baker, said:
“HMIC found that the police service is responding to our 2011 report, Without Fear or Favour, by making improvements to how it identifies, monitors and manages integrity issues; but we are concerned that this progress is inconsistent, and lacks a uniform sense of urgency.
Integrity is fundamental to the core values of the police and what it means to be a police officer. As such it must be at the heart of every action carried out and word spoken by police officers and staff. HMIC will therefore continue to monitor and inspect the service‟s progress in order to provide the public with confidence that all forces are adhering to high standards in these respects.”
Notes to editors
- A copy of the report Revisiting police relationships and individual force reports can be found on the HMIC website www.hmic.gov.uk
- In 2011, the Home Secretary asked Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) to examine and assess “instances of undue influence, inappropriate contractual arrangements and other abuses of power in police relationships with the media and other parties”. The resulting report, Without Fear or Favour, was based on an inspection of all 43 forces in England and Wales, as well as the British Transport Police (BTP), the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) and, at its request, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). We also ran telephone surveys to find out if the public thought corruption was a problem for the police service, and looked at police use of social media. The 2011 report can be found on the HMIC website www.hmic.gov.uk
- The revisit was based on the 2011 criteria and composed of assessments of 44 forces (including the British Transport Police), supported by inspection work in July and August 2012. HMIC also repeated and extended the surveys of public opinions of the range and type of corruption issues in the police service, and of police use of social media. As with the 2011 report, HMIC inspected the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) following an invitation from them – findings from the PSNI are not included in the thematic report.
- Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) is an independent inspectorate, inspecting policing in the public interest, and rigorously examines the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces to tackle crime and terrorism, improve criminal justice and raise confidence. HMIC inspects all 43 police forces in England and Wales together with other major policing bodies such as the Serious Organised Crime Agency, the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the British Transport Police.
- For further information, HMIC’s press office can be contacted during office hours from 8:30am – 5:30pm Monday – Friday on 0203 513 0600.
- HMIC’s out of hours press office line for urgent media enquiries is 07836 217 729.