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#016/2010 – Merseyside Police Authority is ‘performing adequately’

Merseyside 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’, which represents adequate performance.

A police authority’s job is to make sure that local people have an efficient and effective police force. It should hold the Chief Constable of Merseyside Police to account on behalf of the local community.

Merseyside Police Authority has a good relationship with the Force and provides clear leadership. It listens to local communities and ensures their concerns sit equally alongside regional and national objectives in setting Merseyside Police’s priorities and targets. There has been success in tackling local priorities such as improving public confidence and neighbourhood policing, while bolstering officer numbers and reducing crime.

However, the Authority has more to do. Scrutiny of priority services, such as in estates, workforce modernisation and partnership working, is inconsistent. The Authority needs to ensure members and committees have the skills to challenge, probe and support the Force effectively now and in the future.

The Audit Commission’s James Foster, spokesperson for the joint inspection team, said: ‘Merseyside Police Authority has forged a strong, but independent, working relationship with the Chief Constable – supporting the Force and challenging it to improve. It has enjoyed considerable success in ensuring that the Force focuses on residents’ concerns, alongside many other regional and national priorities. It must ensure that all Authority members have the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively scrutinise Police activities in a demanding financial climate. This includes achieving the best possible value for money, and tackling challenges like workforce modernisation and managing the Police estate.’

Merseyside Police Authority strengths include:

  • Providing clear independent leadership to Merseyside Police. This helps to balance competing priorities and supports an increasing emphasis on improving public confidence and neighbourhood policing.
  • A strong relationship with the Force, with the Authority striking a good balance between supporting and challenging them.
  • Its approach to community engagement. The Authority uses extensive and often innovative methods to reach out to communities. Priorities reflect the views of local people.
  • A good track record of improving efficiency and shifting resources to high priority areas.

Merseyside Police Authority’s areas for improvement include:

  • Improving scrutiny of key priority services by addressing weaknesses in committee arrangements and improving some members’ skills.
  • Improving challenge in important areas such as value for money, estate strategy, workforce modernisation and protective services.
  • Strengthening its strategic influence on key partnerships.
  • Ensuring its Executive Office team is equipped to help tackle future spending priorities and to develop separate identity with partners and the media.

Following today’s report, Merseyside 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 Merseyside Police Authority or from the Audit Commission website at www.audit-commission.gov.uk and the HMIC website www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmicfrs/inspections/police-authority-inspections.

ENDS

Notes to editors

  1. Merseyside Police Authority is an independent body responsible for overseeing the Force. It represents the community and, in partnership with the Chief Constable, ensures that an efficient and effective policing service is provided to the people of Merseyside.
  2. 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.
  3. The Audit Commission is an independent watchdog, driving economy, efficiency and effectiveness in local public services to deliver better outcomes for everyone.
  4. Our work across local government, health, housing, community safety and fire and rescue services means that we have a unique perspective. We promote value for money for taxpayers, auditing the £200 billion spent by 11,000 local public bodies.
  5. 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.
  6. Further information about the Audit Commission: www.audit-commission.gov.uk.
  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.
  8. Further information about HMIC: www.hmic.gov.uk.
  9. For more information, or for an embargoed copy of the full report, contact David Rose at the Audit Commission on 0844 798 6654 or d-rose@audit-commission.gov.uk.