Most police forces are good at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour, but the quality of investigations remains disappointing

HMIC has graded every police force on its overall effectiveness in reducing crime and keeping people safe. This is based on an assessment of how well forces prevent crime and anti-social behaviour; investigate crime and manage offenders; protect vulnerable people and support victims; and tackle serious and organised crime.

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PEEL: Police effectiveness 2015

Across England and Wales, HMIC has graded 1 force (Durham Constabulary) as outstanding; 24 forces as good; and 18 forces as requires improvement. No force was found to be inadequate.

HM Inspector of Constabulary Zoë Billingham, who led the inspection, said:

“This is one of the most wide-ranging inspections HMIC has ever conducted. We’ve examined police effectiveness across the board – from how forces identify anti-social behaviour hotspots, to their mapping of organised crime groups, and from their management of the most dangerous offenders, to their work to protect children.

“The job of the inspectorate is to shine a light on both good performance, and on things that need to improve; and this inspection found both.

“Almost all forces are good at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour. Successful prevention means fewer crimes; and fewer crimes means fewer victims, and so more people are kept safe. This is at the heart of what the police are here to do.

“But I need to raise a warning flag here. Forces’ good performance in preventing crimes is at risk if neighbourhood policing is further eroded.

“Frontline neighbourhood police officers have told us repeatedly that they are being pulled from their vitally important preventative work in communities to fulfil other duties, like guarding crime scenes, spending time in stations investigating crimes or staffing police station front counters. Losing our eyes and ears in the community is only likely to hamper good performance in preventing crime.

“Police leaders need to take heed of HMIC’s early warning and make sure that neighbourhood policing – the cornerstone of the British policing model, is preserved for future generations.

“In addition, more than a third of forces are judged to require improvement in how they investigate crime and manage offenders, with backlogs and delays in the units which extract and analyse evidence from digital devices a particular concern. We found a similar picture last year; it is disappointing not to see more progress.”

The picture elsewhere is mixed. While HMIC found both good practice and things that need to improve in all areas:

  • forces are mostly good at tackling serious and organised crime (although they are generally better at ‘traditional’ organised crime, such as drug-dealing, than so-called newer areas, such as child sexual exploitation and cyber-crime);
  • as HMIC reported in December 2015, the poorest performance was found to be in relation to the care and support for vulnerable victims, including children. Three-quarters of forces didn’t meet the standard of ‘good’ here; while, in contrast;
  • HMIC found big improvements in how forces respond to domestic abuse victims, which gives us some confidence that police leaders and police and crime commissioners can repeat this progress in other areas. This should lead to more forces reaching the required standards, and receiving good or outstanding overall effectiveness judgments in our 2016 inspection.

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PEEL: Police effectiveness 2015


  1. Effectiveness is the final part of HMIC’s annual inspections into police efficiency, effectiveness and legitimacy (PEEL) to be published. Our inspection focused on the overall question: ‘How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?’ To answer this question HMIC evaluated four areas: how effective is the force at preventing crime, anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe?; how effective is the force at investigating crime and managing offenders?; how effective is the force at protecting from harm those who are vulnerable, and supporting victims?; how effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime, including its arrangement for fulfilling its national policing responsibilities?
  2. In prevention we awarded three police forces with ‘outstanding’, 35 forces with ‘good’ and five forces with ‘requires improvement’. No forced were judged to be ‘inadequate’.
  3. For investigation we judged one force to be ‘outstanding’, 26 to be ‘good’, 16 to ‘require improvement’ and no forces to be ‘inadequate’.
  4. For protecting vulnerable victims no forces were judged to be ‘outstanding’, 12 were ‘good’, 27 ‘require improvement’ and four were found to be ‘inadequate’.
  5. On tackling serious and organised crime, three forces were judged to be ‘outstanding’, 32 are ‘good’, eight ‘require improvement’ and no forces are ‘inadequate’.
  6. Overall, one force, Durham Constabulary, was assessed as ‘outstanding’.
  7. A further 24 forces were ‘good’:
    • Cheshire
    • City of London
    • Derbyshire
    • Devon and Cornwall
    • Dorset
    • Greater Manchester
    • Gwent
    • Hampshire
    • Hertfordshire
    • Kent
    • Lancashire
    • Leicestershire
    • Merseyside
    • Norfolk
    • North Yorkshire
    • Northumbria
    • Nottinghamshire
    • South Wales
    • Suffolk
    • Sussex
    • Thames Valley
    • West Midlands
    • West Yorkshire
    • Wiltshire
  8. Eighteen forces were ‘requires improvement’:
    • Avon and Somerset
    • Bedfordshire
    • Cambridgeshire
    • Cleveland
    • Cumbria
    • Dyfed-Powys
    • Essex
    • Gloucestershire
    • Humberside
    • Lincolnshire
    • Metropolitan
    • North Wales
    • Northamptonshire
    • South Yorkshire
    • Staffordshire
    • Surrey
    • Warwickshire
    • West Mercia
  9. Individual assessment reports are available for each of the 43 police forces in England and Wales.
  10. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) is an independent inspectorate, inspecting policing in the public interest, and rigorously examines the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces to tackle crime and terrorism, improve criminal justice and raise confidence. HMIC inspects all 43 police forces in England and Wales together with other major policing and law enforcement bodies.
  11. For further information, HMIC’s press office can be contacted during office hours from 8:30am – 5:00pm Monday – Friday on 0203 513 0600.
  12. HMIC’s out-of-hours press office line for urgent media enquiries is 07836 217 729.