Inspectorate calls for changes to its powers to help police forces improve

HMI Andy Cooke has published his first annual assessment of policing in England and Wales and says that inspectors should be given more power to help police forces improve, and given the power to direct a police force when there are significant concerns about public safety. The State of Policing 2022 includes a recommendation to re-establish the role of the inspectors of constabulary in selecting and appointing police chief officers.

The chief inspector described widespread systemic failings in both the police and criminal justice system, both of which threaten to damage public trust in police. He has called for definitive action to be taken to address these failings, instead of ‘glossy strategies and mission statements’ that do not bring about lasting change.

The report says that police forces need to prioritise the issues that matter most to the public and adds that forces are failing to get the basics right in investigation and responding to the public, and that they need to concentrate on effective neighbourhood policing.

His Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary Andy Cooke said, “I am calling for substantial reform to give the inspectors of constabulary more power to ensure we are able to do everything necessary to help police forces improve. Over the years, we have repeatedly called for change. There are only so many times we can say the same thing in different words – it is now time for the Government to bring in new legislation to strengthen our recommendations.

“Change needs to start at the top. Chief constables and police and crime commissioners need to do more to make sure their forces are efficient and to get a grip on their priorities. The police are not there to be the first port of call for people in mental health crisis or to uphold social justice. They are there to uphold the law.

“Forces need to show professionalism, get the basics right when it comes to investigating crime, and respond properly when someone dials 999. This is what matters most to the communities they serve and this is the way forward for the police to regain the public’s trust. The fundamental principle of policing by consent, upon which our police service is built, is at risk – and it is past time to act.”

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