Most police forces are doing a good job of efficiently keeping the public safe and of reducing crime, according to HMIC.
The Inspectorate’s latest PEEL report on efficiency rated 33 forces as good and two as outstanding.
Challenges remain around the consistency of forces planning for future demand and understanding the skills needed to tackle this demand, as well as in sharing information, adoption of technology and in understanding the benefits of collaboration.
The report noted that policing is also continuing to pick up unmet demand from other public services.
Responding to the report, Association President Chief Superintendent Gavin Thomas said:
“This report highlights some quite remarkable achievements during the last 12 months by a police service that is still facing financial pressures and real changes in demand and recorded crime.
“The vast majority of forces are doing a good job of efficiently keeping the public safe and of reducing crime.
“Specific challenges for the service do remain.
“It is clear that collaboration and partnerships are a huge part of policing’s future, and so it is essential we understand the opportunities for doing this more efficiently as well as the benefits that can be brought to service delivery to the public.
“We also need to make sure that collaborations are not ad-hoc, but properly thought through so that these benefits can be maximised.
“I am pleased to see HMIC emphasising the need for consistent standards and practice, both for use of technology – where standstill is simply not an option – and for sharing information and data which is the now the ‘currency’ for any modern organisation.
“Of course, behind the headlines of this report are our hardworking people who are committed to keeping the public safe and secure.
“For me, the bottom line is not the 19% reduction in officers but how we, as a service, are looking after our people and their wellbeing; and how we recognise and consciously seek to recruit people with the different skills and thinking that we will need to meet demand now and in the future.
“The report has again drawn attention to the fact that policing is picking up unmet demand from other public services, which are also facing their own pressures.
“Policing is here all day, every day. Its lights are on when those of its partner agencies have been turned off; and this means frontline officers are meeting the growing demand of vulnerability in our society, regardless of its cause. This is the law of unintended consequences writ large on policing.
“My Association has been calling for the service to produce a strategic vision which understands the future risks, opportunities and threats that society, and therefore policing, will be facing in 20- 30 years; and which starts to influence thinking, planning, procurement, resourcing, recruitment and skills development.
“I now believe it is time this thinking was applied across the whole of public services, so that we can develop a clear vision and supporting strategies for each agency to deliver against.
“Only if we do this can we make best use of increasingly scarce resources at the same as improving the service we all give to the public.”
The full report can be read on the HMIC website.