#004/2010 – You don’t have to be a detective to find out about your police
Families now have access to more information than ever before about their risk from crime and anti-social behaviour, the performance of their local police force and how much it costs them, with a new assessment launched by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary.
HMIC are providing information that will help answer the questions you – the public – want to ask about your police. How safe am I? What is my risk of being a crime victim? How well are my police performing? Are they likely to improve and am I getting value for money?
It will be an uncomfortable read for some. But there is much to celebrate, and HMIC proclaims the hard work of many forces. For example, homicide is at a 10 year low.
We aim to be fair in our performance assessments. When we compare forces, it is against a set of ‘peers’ – similar forces – taking into account budgets, crime profiles, populations and challenges. Our grades are based on comparing like with like.
How safe am I?
HMIC are providing an independent, professional assessment of the risks from crime and anti-social behaviour in every area across England and Wales. It shows how risks vary, for example:
- Shootings, stabbings and sexual offences are rare compared to other crimes, with less than one victim per 1,000 population.
- Violent assault, domestic burglary and vehicle crime are more common with, on average, between 5 and 10 victims per 1,000 population. But the rates vary significantly, depending on where you live. Violent assault is highest in Nottinghamshire.
- The police recorded 3.6 million calls from the public about anti-social behaviour last year (compared with 4.6 million calls about crime). The number of calls per 1,000 population vary locally but this may reflect variations in public confidence in the police rather than risk. HMIC will be undertaking further work in this area.
How good are my police?
The best forces reach very high standards in some areas and, generally, do well in far more aspects of policing than they are weak in.
- Hertfordshire, Northumbria, Surrey and Cleveland currently perform well across the board although their costs vary.
- The Metropolitan Police Service, Merseyside and West Midlands achieved an excellent assessment for ‘Protection from Serious Harm’ – policing against the ‘big threats’ such as murder and organised crime. Lancashire achieved an excellent assessment for Local Crime and Policing.
- The forces that have improved on the most fronts over the last year are South Yorkshire, South Wales, West Midlands and Kent. South Yorkshire show the greatest prospect for improvement over the year ahead.
- Nottinghamshire and Greater Manchester Police (GMP) are currently causing concern. GMP struggles in some key areas, but has a plan and clear commitment to improve. The performance of Nottinghamshire Police is below average in far too many aspects.
Dealing with anti-social behaviour
HMIC wanted to provide information on how forces deal with repeat victims of anti-social behaviour, who are often devastated by their experiences. Although there are surveys telling us what people think about ASB, we do not have up-to-date credible data on the service delivered to victims, particularly repeat victims. To begin to address this, we have checked police systems and repeat victims’ experiences.
- Members of the public on the receiving end of ASB find it hard to distinguish it from crime.
- More than half of the 43 forces do not have IT systems capable of automatically identifying repeat victims of ASB when they call the police. Consequently officers attending reports of ASB may not be aware of the previous history.
- A HMIC survey found 22% of repeat ASB victims categorise themselves as disabled. This, and other matters, relating to ASB will be the subject of further investigation by HMIC.
How much does it cost me?
Value for money is increasingly important. HMIC’s assessment enables you to compare cost with performance.
- Householders contribute on average £158 to the cost of policing from their council tax (based on band D averages) which equates to about a quarter of the total cost of policing.
- The higher cost forces are not always the better performing and vice versa.
- For example, Norfolk Constabulary performs generally well at a relatively low cost.
On the 18th March, HMIC will provide greater detail on whether the police offer value for money.
Getting involved with your local police
The Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Denis O’Connor said: “We are providing the public with information about the risk they face from crime and anti-social behaviour where they live, how good their police are at tackling these risks and how much the police cost.
“It is a one-stop-shop for most information the public want about policing such as how good they are at tackling crime. It’s clear and easy to access.
“At the heart is the ‘Police Report Card’. This provides HMIC’s assessment of forces in four dimensions – local crime and policing; tackling the major threats, such as terrorism and murder; cost and value; and public confidence and satisfaction.
“It’s not just about numbers and grades. HMIC uses its professional expertise to assess how well forces are doing.
“This assessment will help residents get more involved in how their area is policed. It will help them decide what their local policing priorities should be and whether the tax they pay for policing seems reasonable.
“The lack of reliable data on anti-social behaviour is a very real cause for concern. ASB makes many people’s lives a misery, so HMIC is in the process of completing more work into assessing how forces deal with ASB. Some of this information is available today, and there will be more later in the year.
“There is justifiable concern about demands for more performance data from forces regardless of the burden. We have collected existing facts and figures. For example, we have used 19 of the Home Office’s 36 Analysis of Policing and Community Safety (APACS) indicators. We have put the information in one place to answer the questions the public ask. It is the public interest that counts.
“We have also identified the need for HMIC to work with forces to improve the quality of crime data, how the police count crimes solved, our understanding of how well the police protect the public from serious harm and how they deliver value for money.”
HMIC’s detailed assessments will be publicly available on a new website, MyPolice.org.uk – launching soon.
MyPolice.org.uk is an interactive one-stop-shop that will provide a wealth of facts, figures, grades and assessments of the 43 police forces in England and Wales. Members of the public will be able to see how many officers forces put on community duties, where the money is spent and whether crime and anti-social behaviour are dealt with effectively.
Notes to editors
- HMIC’s full assessment of all 43 police forces in England and Wales will be available at www.mypolice.org.uk, launching soon.The grades awarded were as follows:Local crime and policing:
- 1 force was graded excellent
- 13 forces were graded good
- 26 forces were graded fair
- 3 forces were graded poor
Protection from serious harm:
- 3 forces were graded excellent
- 13 forces were graded good
- 26 forces were graded fair
- 1 force were graded poor
Confidence and satisfaction:
- 0 forces were graded excellent
- 9 forces were graded good
- 32 forces were graded fair
- 2 forces were graded poor
- The fourth domain – cost and value – will be graded later this year.
- MyPolice.org.uk will include an overall assessment by HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary and a summary note of HMIC’s emerging findings on ASB. Both will also be available at the press conference under embargo.
- MyPolice.org.uk will give the public a clear view on the quality of the policing service in their area as set out in the Policing Green Paper 2008.
- For more information about the data used to compile My Police please see the website. In particular, please note that although there are real statistical differences between the satisfaction levels of BME and white victims of crime the data is volatile. HMIC will review the position with the Home Office for future editions of the website.
- HMIC is an independent inspectorate, inspecting policing in the public interest and rigorously examining the effectiveness of police forces and authorities to tackle crime and terrorism, improve criminal justice and raise confidence.
- HMIC inspects and regulates 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, the British Transport Police and HMRC.
- The HMIC press office can be contacted on 0207 035 2712.