HMICFRS is an inspectorate, not a regulator. Regulators have powers of intervention, direction and enforcement. Inspectorates have powers to secure information, but no powers to give orders for change. Recommendations are not orders.

It is for chief constables (whose operational independence is a cornerstone of British policing), police and crime commissioners (with powers to set local priorities and budgets) and, in extreme cases, the Home Secretary (who has ultimate democratic responsibility for policing) to take action as a result of HMICFRS’s recommendations. The same applies to the fire & rescue service itself, and the fire & rescue authorities.

Police and crime commissioners are required to publish their comments on each HMICFRS report within 56 days of its publication, and must include an explanation of the steps to be taken in response to each HMICFRS recommendation or an explanation of why no action has been or is to be taken in that respect.