Reliance on frontline officers ‘to get job done’ masks shortcomings, says report
Police leaders in England and Wales are failing to plan for demand and putting public safety at risk, the forces’ official watchdog has warned.
The annual state of policing report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services presents a mixed picture of police forces, with praise as well as criticism.
The chief inspector, Sir Tom Winsor, said the work of frontline officers who were “relied on to get the job done” was masking failures by police chiefs to reform.
Tom Winsor: the scale of change had been ‘too slow and too modest’. Photograph: David Sillitoe for the Guardian
Winsor said: “The inspections HMICFRS has carried out during the past year showed that the effectiveness and efficiency of the police service is, on the whole, improving against a backdrop of financial austerity and the rise of crime, especially complex crime. This is to the credit of those who were completing.
“However, many of the points in this report are issues we have raised before and often. Increasingly these issues are becoming more and more urgent. The principal of these is the failure to plan properly, compromising public safety and relying on frontline officers desire to ‘get the job done’.”
He said this meant that the scale of change had been “too slow and too modest”.
Winsor said there were “no excuses for the shortcomings I routinely see” and that these “would not be acceptable in many other organisations”.
The report also found thousands of emergency calls were being held in queues because there were not enough officers to respond to them.
Winsor was appointed as chief inspector of constabulary by Theresa May in 2012, when she was home secretary.