PEEL inspection: ‘Force still needs to improve’

 

The latest HMICFRS inspection shows the Force must improve the service it provides to the public, says Humberside Police Federation’s secretary.

 

Helen Collier said the PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) report by Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary Fire and Rescue Services shows the cuts to policing budgets are putting the police service under huge strain and that was putting people at risk.

 

“While there are some encouraging signs in the report, with improvements in some areas, we still need to go further if we are to provide our communities with the policing service they deserve,” says Helen.

 

“Police officers and staff are doing their best but there is only so much they can do. The cuts to officer numbers mean there are just fewer people to go around and you can’t do more with less.

 

“Thankfully, the Force is now recruiting but we are still not back to the numbers we had before the austerity measures kicked in and, of course, we are still losing officers through retirements and natural wastage.”

 

Inspectors said the Force is

  • ‘good’ at preventing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour
  • ‘requires improvement’ at investigating crime and reducing re-offending
  • ‘requires improvement’ at protecting vulnerable people; and
  • is ‘good’ at tackling serious and organised crime.

 

HM Inspector of Constabulary Matt Parr said: “Although there is a lot of work to be done, I am encouraged that Humberside Police is making progress; in particular, it now routinely identifies vulnerability at the first point of contact with victims.”

 

But he added: “Although the quality of investigations in the more serious and complex cases is generally good, more needs to be done to improve the supervision and quality of investigations for those relatively less serious, but routine crimes. 

 

“The Force should review its capacity to download evidence from digital devices; a backlog is causing undue delay to investigations. The Force needs also to tighten up its procedures for tracking down criminals who are wanted for offences.”

 

While the Force’s approach to protecting vulnerable people and supporting victims has improved, more work still needs to be done, he said.

 

Addressing the national findings, HMIC inspector Zoe Billingham said that while most forces were maintaining a good standard of service to the public, despite increases in demand and financial pressures, the cracks were starting to show.

 

She claimed policing is ‘under significant stress’, explaining: “On occasion that stress stretches some forces to such an extent that they risk being unable to keep people safe in some very important areas of policing.”

 

About a quarter of forces are often overwhelmed by the demand they face, leading to backlogs of emergency jobs, she said. HMICFRS also pointed to a shortfall of 5,000 investigators, echoing the Police Federation’s campaign launched last week to raise awareness of a crisis in detective policing.

 

The Police Federation’s national chair Calum Macleod says the report shows policing is reaching ‘breaking point’.

“The Government’s own inspector has said that some parts of the police service in the country are so stretched that people may be put in danger,” he said.

 

“If this is not a wake-up call I don’t know what is. We cannot allow this situation to deteriorate to such an extent where people are routinely put a risk. That is unthinkable – but shockingly it seems – not unrealistic.”

 

He added: “This independent report paints a desperate picture. It makes difficult reading for all and I hope the Prime Minister and Home Secretary will take action as soon as possible to ensure that the cracks don’t lead to irreparable breakages to this most vital public service.”

 

Two of the 43 police forces were found to be ‘outstanding’ at crime prevention and four ‘outstanding’ in the way they tackle serious and organised crime. Only one force, Durham, was found to be ‘outstanding’ overall, with 30 forces being judged as ‘good’. No forces were found to be ‘inadequate’ overall.