Posted: Fri 9th Jun 2023

Police service has limited window of opportunity to repair public trust, inspectorate says

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Jun 9th, 2023

In a stark warning, His Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Andy Cooke, has declared that the police service is at a historic turning point with a limited window of opportunity to repair public trust.

In his first annual assessment of policing in England and Wales, Cooke has called for significant reform. He wants new powers for the inspectors of constabulary. This includes the ability to direct a police force when public safety is at significant risk.

Cooke highlighted systemic failings in both the police and the criminal justice system. He warns that these failings threaten to further erode public trust in the police. Instead of relying on “glossy strategies and mission statements” that don’t bring about lasting change, he calls for definitive action.

“I was a police officer for 36 years before I took this job,” Cooke said. “I am in no doubt of the dedication, bravery and commitment of the vast majority of police officers and staff. But there are clear and systemic failings throughout the police service in England and Wales. Thanks to a series of dreadful scandals, public trust in the police is hanging by a thread.”

The report makes three key recommendations to the Government and chief constables. These include reviewing legislation to clarify HMICFRS’s inspection remit. It also suggests re-establishing the role of the inspectors of constabulary in selecting and appointing police chief officers. Lastly, it recommends conducting new research into the deterrent value of stop and search and the causes of its disproportionate use.

Cooke emphasised that change needs to start at the top. Chief constables and police and crime commissioners must do more to ensure their forces are efficient and prioritise appropriately.

He said: “I am calling for substantial reform to give the inspectors of constabulary more power. This will 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 a 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. 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.”

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