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#005/2010 – Police authorities must change to have a decisive influence on policing

Only a third of a sample of police authorities inspected are setting effective long-term strategic plans for themselves or their force, finds a joint report by HMIC and the Audit Commission. As a result, they are not doing enough to identify and deliver policing priorities for their area.

The report, ‘Learning Lessons’, urges police authorities to make hard decisions to focus their time and effort in ways which will make the biggest difference to the way that the police serve their communities.

Today’s report highlights the continuing good practice across many authorities of holding Chief Constables to account for every day performance of the force. It recognises the leadership and determination of Chairs of police authorities in driving this forward.

The inspectorates found that most authorities do not have a clear enough focus on how forces provide value for money. As a result, the public cannot be assured that the police will provide a service that matches public expectations in the longer term.

Other important findings in the report include:

  • Authorities are effective in influencing annual budgets and funding
  • They increasingly consult and engage with the public to understand local concerns
  • Authorities can do more to work with local partners to deliver improved outcomes for the public
  • They have a good understanding of the Policing Pledge and single confidence target
  1. There are 43 police authorities in England and Wales. They are responsible for securing an efficient and effective police force for the area and holding the Chief Constable to account.
  2. In response to the Policing Green Paper consultation, police authorities have been jointly inspected by the Audit Commission, HMIC and, in Wales, by the Wales Audit Office.
  3. Police authorities have been inspected against four assessment themes: setting strategic direction and priorities; scrutinising performance outcomes; achieving results through community engagement and partnerships; and ensuring value for money and productivity.
  4. The first phase of ten inspections has now been completed, covering the Metropolitan Police Authority, Avon & Somerset, Hampshire, Wiltshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Gwent. (Northamptonshire and the MPA will be available by the end of March 2010).
  5. The Policing Pledge was introduced for consultation by the Home Office in July 2008. On December 31, 2008, all 43 Chief Constables in England and Wales signed up to the Pledge to ensure their officers and staff delivered on all aspects as part of a focus on neighbourhood policing.
  6. The Audit Commission is an independent watchdog, driving economy, efficiency and effectiveness in local public services to deliver better outcomes for everyone. As a force for improvement, we work in partnership to assess local public services and make practical recommendations for promoting a better quality of life for local people. Further information about the Audit Commission:
  7. HMIC is an independent inspectorate, inspecting policing in the public interest and rigorously examines the effectiveness of police forces and authorities to tackle crime and terrorism, improve criminal justice and raise confidence. Further information about HMIC:
  8. For more information, or for a copy of the full report, contact the Audit Commission Press Office on 0844 798 2128 or the HMIC Press Office on 0207 035 2712, or view the report on the Audit Commission’s website (PDF, external site, new window) (PDF document)

Authorities should be benchmarking their force performance and spend to that of others in order to ensure that they are providing a quality service.