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#009/2009 – Avon and Somerset Police Authority is ‘performing adequately’

Avon and Somerset Police Authority is ‘performing adequately’, according to an independent new report released today by the Audit Commission and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).

On a scale from one to four, the joint inspection team assessed the Authority’s performance as ‘two – performing adequately’.

Inspectors found the Authority is broadly fulfilling the key functions covered by the assessment. It ensures that the Constabulary is well led and is influential in developing high-profile projects. The Authority shows a commitment to improving the customer experience in call handling and complaints and is aware of the needs of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities and vulnerable groups. Its scrutiny of financial planning and management is generally sound. However, it needs to be more thorough in its target-setting and scrutiny arrangements and feed back to the community more effectively.

The Audit Commission’s Jeanette York, spokesperson for the joint inspection team, said: ‘The authority needs to build on the improvements it has overseen over the past few years and set more demanding targets for driving down crime and increasing detection rates. Its support for neighbourhood policing is a particular strength. The authority is aware of the need to maximise value for money. It now needs to set challenging efficiency targets and have a robust plan to enable it to make the hard choices about policing priorities, funding and spending. The evidence of the inspection is that the authority is well placed and motivated to raise its game over the next few years.’

Strengths include:

  • The authority has a clear influence in developing high-profile collaborative projects, such as the forensic science consortium, which provide better value for money.
  • The independent custody visitor scheme is well-managed and extensive.
  • There is visible support – including financial support – for neighbourhood policing and the deployment of police community support officers.
  • Call-handling for emergency and non-emergency calls is much improved.

Areas for improvement include:

  • Target setting, monitoring and scrutiny needs a more rigorous and robust approach across all areas of core police business.
  • Despite improvements in recent years, crime and detection rates are unsatisfactory when compared to other forces.
  • More effective scrutiny of shift patterns and overtime, and their financial consequences, is needed to modernise the workforce.
  • The policing plan fails to convey clearly to the general public the Authority and Constabulary’s priorities and why and how they are chosen.

Following today’s report, Avon and Somerset Police Authority will plan what it needs to do to improve its services to meet the changing needs of its communities.

Copies of the report are available from Avon and Somerset Police Authority or from the Audit Commission website at www.audit-commission.gov.uk/reports.

ENDS

Notes to editors

  1. Police authority inspection provides a simple report in a straightforward way about how well each police authority is performing. It encourages police authorities to focus on continuous improvement and provides a robust independent challenge to stimulate positive change. Ultimately it is about working to improve the quality of services police authorities provide to local people.
  2. The Audit Commission is an independent body responsible for ensuring that public money is spent economically, efficiently and effectively, to achieve high-quality local services for the public. Our remit covers around 11,000 bodies in England, which between them spend more than £180 billion of public money each year. Our work covers local government, health, housing, community safety and fire and rescue services.
  3. As an independent watchdog, we provide important information on the quality of public services. As a driving force for improvement in those services, we provide practical recommendations and spread best practice. As an independent auditor, we ensure that public services are good value for money and that public money is properly spent.
  4. For further information about the Audit Commission, visit our website at www.audit-commission.gov.uk.
  5. 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.

For further information about HMIC, visit our website www.inspectorates.homeoffice.gov.uk/hmic.

For further information, or for an embargoed copy of the full report, please contact: HMIC Press Office on 020 7035 2712 or email Robert Stansfield at Robert.Stansfield@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk.