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Sophie Cameron

Features and Opinion Editor, Solicitors Journal

HMICFRS State of Policing report calls for major reform

HMICFRS State of Policing report calls for major reform


The report provides an annual assessment of policing in England and Wales

His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) published the ‘State of Policing – The annual assessment of Policing in England and Wales 2022’ report on 9 June, which calls for substantial reform. His Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Andy Cooke, states in his first annual assessment that the police service is at a historic turning point and that there is a limited window of opportunity to repair public trust.

The first annual report to the Secretary of State from His Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary under Section 54(4A) of the Police Act 1996 provides an assessment of the effectiveness and efficiency of police forces in England and Wales, based on inspections carried out between 1 December 2021 and 31 March 2023.

The report details the widespread systemic failings in the police and criminal justice system, and calls for definitive action to be taken to address the failings. Specific observations made in the report, include: that the police need to prioritise the issues that matter most to the public; that police forces are failing to get the basics right in investigation and responding to the public, and they need to concentrate on effective neighbourhood policing; and that critical elements of the police service’s leadership and workforce arrangements need substantial reform, such as more scrutiny on vetting and recruitment processes, including for chief officers.

The recommendations to the government and chief constables, include: the need to review legislation to make HMICFRS’s remit of inspection clearer and clarifying its power to inspect policing functions delivered by police and crime commissioners; re-establishing the role of the inspectors of constabulary in selecting and appointing police chief officers; and new research into the deterrent value of stop and search and the causes of disproportionality in its use.

Commenting on the report, 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.”