How we inspect

HMICFRS’s PEEL assessments are designed to provide a year-on-year comparison, so that you can see how each police force’s performance changes over time, in relation to other forces.

The questions that make up the PEEL assessments do not remain exactly the same each year, and must adapt to changing priorities and circumstances in policing.

This page explains how we inspected in 2018/19 for the latest published PEEL reports. How we inspect and report on PEEL is changing for 2021/22. You can find out more on the 2021/22 PEEL assessments page.

Choose a page from the list on the left to see for each year:

  • the specific question sets;
  • any consultations we ran;
  • the surveys we carried out; and
  • other information specific to that year.

This page sets out the grading criteria used for the PEEL inspection, covering:

PEEL pillars

PEEL assessments are broken up into three pillars:

  • effectiveness;
  • efficiency; and
  • legitimacy.

These pillars consider whether forces keep people safe and reduce crime (how effective a force is), forces are getting the best outcomes from their resources (how efficient a force is), and how forces are ensuring they have the confidence of their communities (the public legitimacy of a force).


HMICFRS’s effectiveness inspections make an assessment of how well forces are preventing and investigating crime and anti-social behaviour; tackling serious and organised crime; and protecting victims and those who are vulnerable. These are the most important responsibilities for a police force, and are the principal measures by which the public will judge the performance of their force and policing as a whole.

Read more information about the latest effectiveness inspection


HMICFRS’s efficiency inspections build on the work of the Valuing the Police inspections.

HMICFRS considers a police force to be efficient if it is making the best use of resources to provide policing services that meet expectations and public priorities, and if it is planning and investing wisely for the future. HMICFRS gathers evidence across ‘core questions’ which reflect those areas of policing that we consider to be of particular interest and concern to the public.

Read more information about the latest efficiency inspection


HMICFRS defines a legitimate force as one whose staff and officers are seen by the public consistently to behave fairly, ethically and within the law. It seeks to identify and resolve issues relating to fair and respectful treatment by the police.

Read more information about the latest legitimacy inspection

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HMICFRS’s graded judgments

Forces are assessed and given graded judgments. The categories are:

  • Outstanding;
  • Good;
  • Requires improvement; and
  • Inadequate.

Judgment is made against how efficient, effective and legitimate the force is at keeping people safe and reducing crime.

Good grade

Good is the ‘expected’ graded judgment.

  • Good is based on policy, practice or performance that meets pre-defined grading criteria that are informed by any relevant approved professional practice, standards or approved practice.
  • If the policy, practice or performance exceeds what is expected for Good then consideration will be given to a graded judgment of Outstanding.
  • If there are shortcomings in the policy, practice or performance and it does not meet what is expected for Good then consideration will be given to a graded judgment of Requires improvement.
  • If there are serious of critical failings of policy, practice or performance and it does not meet what is expected for Good then consideration will be given to a graded judgment of Inadequate.

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Pillar judgments

Each pillar (effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) is broken up into a number of core questions. Here is the most recent question set for the PEEL 2018/19 inspections.

Each pillar and core question, unless stated otherwise, is graded using the graded judgments set out above.

The starting point for arriving at an overall pillar judgment is to aggregate the core question judgments.

For example, two core questions judged as Good and one as Outstanding would normally result in an overall pillar judgment of Good.

The judgment is then adjusted to reflect the following:

  1. If one or more core questions within a pillar are judged as Inadequate, the overall pillar judgment will be no higher than Requires improvement.
  2. If one or more core questions within a pillar are judged as Requires improvement, the overall pillar judgment will be no higher than Good.
  3. The overall pillar judgment will reflect how close core question judgments are to the edge of the grade boundaries.

    For example, if HMICFRS judged two core questions as a very low Good and a third as very low Requires improvement, the most appropriate overall pillar grade would be Requires improvement.

    This will be particularly relevant when the aggregate of the judgments for the core questions lies on a grade boundary.

    For example, two core questions are Good and two core questions are Requires improvement.

    HMICFRS will set out in the force report narrative the rationale for awarding a particular graded judgment in all cases where the proximity of core question judgments to the grade boundary is a salient factor.

  4. HMICFRS does not routinely give one or more core questions within a pillar more weighting than others. However, there may be instances where a degree of weighting is appropriate because of the context of an individual force or significance of a particular inspection question or the seriousness of a particular inspection finding. Where such an adjustment is made, the rationale will be set out in the force report narrative.

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Risk-based assessment approach

For PEEL 2014, 2015 and 2016, every force was assessed against every question every year.

In 2017, the risk-based assessment approach was piloted for questions in the effectiveness pillar. This means that not every question was inspected against when coming to a judgment of how effective a particular force is at reducing crime and keeping everyone safe.

This approach was rolled out for all forces across all three pillars in PEEL 2018/19.

HMICFRS uses a set of criteria to determine which questions each force should be inspected on. These usually focus mainly on how the force has performed in previous inspections. Frequent insight and monitoring work carried out between inspections cycles, also plays a part in judging the need to include certain questions.

Where a question is not inspected, the graded judgment from the last inspection is carried forward. But we will consider all the evidence we have obtained about a force in the year when determining our overall judgments.

In 2018/19 there are some compulsory questions that every force will be assessed against, regardless of their previous performance in that area. These tend to be areas of greatest importance to effective, efficient and legitimate policing. For example, protecting vulnerable people and planning for the future.

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Impact of Crime data integrity grades

In summer 2016, HMICFRS published the first reports of a rolling programme of crime data integrity inspections (CDI). These inspections give a graded judgment of forces on their compliance with the Home Office Counting Rules.

We use the following principles to determine how CDI judgments are taken into account in arriving at PEEL judgments:

  • For each police force, HMICFRS will take findings from the most recent CDI inspections into consideration when arriving at PEEL judgments for each of the three pillars.
  • A CDI judgment must have been moderated to affect a PEEL judgment – i.e. a force’s CDI inspection must have been moderated before the PEEL moderation.
  • A CDI judgment cannot be retrospectively applied to a moderated PEEL judgment.
  • The CDI judgment must be considered at the level of the core questions. If one or more core questions are affected by the CDI judgment this may, in turn, affect the pillar judgment. Where a core question has been influenced by a CDI judgment, it will be explicitly stated in the PEEL report.
  • Each PEEL core question judgment can only be affected once by the given CDI inspection. As PEEL pillars are inspected in two tranches per year, it is likely that the CDI inspection will be considered in two PEEL years (e.g. CDI reports moderated before autumn 2016 would be reflected in the autumn 2016 and spring 2017 inspections).
  • Discussion about how CDI judgments influence PEEL judgments must be accurately recorded as part of PEEL moderation.
  • Explicit reference must be made to a CDI judgment in the final HMI assessment published alongside the State of Policing. If a CDI report is considered as part of inspection tranches in separate PEEL years, explicit reference to the CDI judgment must be made in the HMI assessment for both years.

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Areas for improvement, causes of concern and recommendations

HMICFRS identifies:

  • areas for improvement; and
  • causes of concern – with an accompanying recommendation.

Areas for improvement

If HMICFRS’s inspection identifies an aspect of a force’s practice, policy or performance that falls short of the expected standard, it will be reported as one or more area(s) for improvement.

Area(s) for improvement will not be accompanied by a recommendation.

Causes of concern

If HMICFRS’s inspection identifies a serious or critical shortcoming in a force’s practice, policy or performance, it will be reported as a cause of concern. A cause of concern will always be accompanied by one or more recommendations. HMICFRS will recommend that the force(s) (and sometimes other bodies) make changes to alleviate or eradicate it.

Due to the serious nature of these shortcomings, HMICFRS will regularly review force progress (and the progress of other bodies, where appropriate) in alleviating or eradicating a cause of concern. The method and timing of this review will be determined by the precise nature of the cause of concern.

HMICFRS has already applied this approach to making recommendations to PEEL inspections and is currently rolling out the process to other thematic and joint inspections. In the case of joint inspections that are not led by HMICFRS, this approach will be advocated.

How areas for improvement and causes of concern relate to graded judgments

The following table shows how areas for improvement and causes of concern affect the awarding of graded judgments:

Graded judgment of core question Cause(s) of concern and accompanying recommendation(s) Area(s) for improvement
Outstanding no no
Good no possible
Requires improvement possible yes
Inadequate yes possible

If a core question is judged as requires improvement and a cause of concern and accompanying recommendation is identified, an area for improvement may not be needed.

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