In response to HMIC’s Annual Assessment of Policing in England and Wales 2016 (available here), released today, APCC Chair Dame Vera Baird QC said:
“Many PCCs will recognise some of the central issues raised in today’s ‘State of Policing’ report from the HMIC, and appreciate light being shone on the key challenges which face Police Forces across England and Wales today. Not least of all, Sir Thomas understands some of the problems around demand; that police are being brought in to supplement the role of ambulances when they can’t attend emergencies in time, and to deal with people with mental health problems. He sees too the danger of losing the vital distinction between neighbourhood police, who need to be available for the people in the community, and response policing, which needs officers to be allocated to attend urgent calls.
“The recognition which the report gives to the growing demand of combatting crimes such as modern slavery, child abuse, honour-based violence and online fraud is timely. His appreciation that three times as many people praise the police as criticise them – and tellingly, that the more contact there is with officers the higher the praise – speaks volumes about the quality of the people currently in force. We agree that recognising victims of high-harm crimes who are hidden in plain sight is a key skill; we also agree that to be able to understand, predict and meet demand is crucial.
“Additionally, whilst we appreciate concerns raised in the report regarding a lack of interoperability in ICT systems used by police across England and Wales, we do believe that greater attention could have been given to the significant amount of progress that is taking place in relation to Forces’ ICT, thanks to the work of the Police Reform & Transformation Board (PRTB).
“We would not unanimously agree that inspections have taken sufficient note of local Police and Crime Plans, which are drawn up by PCCs with the help of the public to set out local priorities for Chief Constables, and in our view need to be a key focus in inspections. But we appreciate Sir Thomas’ recognition of the democratic legitimacy of those plans and look forward to working further on the issues he raises in our shared public interest.”
Meanwhile, Matthew Scott, APCC Portfolio Lead on Performance, said:
“I welcome the HMIC’s acknowledgement of a problem that Police and Crime Commissioners including myself have been seeking action on for a long time. More and more police time is being taken up helping people suffering from mental ill health – estimates from some Forces top 40% of their time. This is not sustainable for policing, not the response a vulnerable person needs and also not fair on officers, who should not be expected to act as mental health professionals. More power needs to be devolved to ensure that the NHS and CCGs can be better held to account for their failure to use the extra money they have been given for mental health, to commission the services that people need, and act to prevent policing from picking up the demand and the bill.”