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Noticeable differences between police and the service they provide

13 February 2020

The public receives inconsistent service from their local police forces, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has said in a new report.

Following the completion of HMICFRS’s Integrated PEEL Assessments (IPA) for 2018/19, the inspectorate has found that although many forces are performing well under pressure, the consistency of service across England and Wales needs to be addressed. 

In the report Divergence Under Pressure HMICFRS found that forces are still struggling to understand demand in their areas. This is preventing them from being able to use their resources well and plan for the future. Forces also need to ensure they are determined to maintain and improve how they treat the public, in particular using stop and search fairly and properly. 

HMICFRS report that: 

  • forces have greatly improved their ability to protect vulnerable people and support victims;
  • there is still a lack of capacity in neighbourhood policing to analyse and use intelligence;
  • the likelihood of the police bringing someone to justice following a criminal investigation is decreasing; and
  • there are stark differences in the way forces investigate crimes across the country.

HM Inspector of Constabulary Matt Parr said: “Now HMICFRS has published reports into all 43 forces in England and Wales, we can reflect on the findings to consider what these mean for some sections of the public and to look to the future. 

“Our assessments show that policing across England and Wales is largely in good shape. But we cannot ignore that forces are providing services under the twin pressures of rising demand and falling resources. And these pressures have not fallen equally across police forces. Some forces have risen exceptionally well to the challenge. But this generalisation misses some noticeable differences between police forces and the service they provide.

“This has resulted in members of the public receiving very different services provided by their local force, depending where they live.”

On how police forces protect people and prevent crime, HMI Parr said: “Forces have greatly improved their ability to protect vulnerable people and support victims. This area has seen the greatest improvement in grades since our previous inspection. But we have not graded any force as outstanding. Six forces had causes of concern highlighted. There are significant differences between forces in too many areas of investigation. All victims of crime have the right to expect that forces will allocate their crime to someone with the appropriate skills to investigate it.”

On how police forces use their resources, HMI Parr said: “When it comes to efficiency, force performance varies widely. We graded six forces as outstanding, and two as inadequate. The variation between forces becomes starker when considering how well forces are planning for the future.”

On how police forces treat the public and their workforce, HMI Parr said: “We have graded most forces as good for their legitimacy. But it is the pillar with the least movement in grades since our 2017 legitimacy inspection. It takes effort to maintain performance against a backdrop of reduced resources and rising crime. But this also suggests that there is less determination to improve and less innovation in this area. Where policing has focused its attention, it has made improvements.”

View the report: PEEL spotlight report: Diverging under pressure – Overview of themes from PEEL inspections 2018/19