Noticeable differences between police and the service they provide

The public receives inconsistent service from their local police forces, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has said in a report published today.

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PEEL spotlight report: Diverging under pressure – Overview of themes from PEEL inspections 2018/19

Following the completion of HMICFRS’s Integrated PEEL Assessments (IPA) for 2018/19, the inspectorate has found that although many forces are performing well under pressure, the consistency of service across England and Wales needs to be addressed.

In the report Divergence Under Pressure HMICFRS found that forces are still struggling to understand demand in their areas. This is preventing them from being able to use their resources well and plan for the future. Forces also need to ensure they are determined to maintain and improve how they treat the public, in particular using stop and search fairly and properly.

HMICFRS report that:

  • forces have greatly improved their ability to protect vulnerable people and support victims;
  • there is still a lack of capacity in neighbourhood policing to analyse and use intelligence;
  • the likelihood of the police bringing someone to justice following a criminal investigation is decreasing; and
  • there are stark differences in the way forces investigate crimes across the country.

HM Inspector of Constabulary Matt Parr said:

“Now HMICFRS has published reports into all 43 forces in England and Wales, we can reflect on the findings to consider what these mean for some sections of the public and to look to the future.

“Our assessments show that policing across England and Wales is largely in good shape. But we cannot ignore that forces are providing services under the twin pressures of rising demand and falling resources. And these pressures have not fallen equally across police forces. Some forces have risen exceptionally well to the challenge. But this generalisation misses some noticeable differences between police forces and the service they provide.

“This has resulted in members of the public receiving very different services provided by their local force, depending where they live.”

On how police forces protect people and prevent crime, HMI Parr said:

“Forces have greatly improved their ability to protect vulnerable people and support victims. This area has seen the greatest improvement in grades since our previous inspection. But we have not graded any force as outstanding. Six forces had causes of concern highlighted. There are significant differences between forces in too many areas of investigation. All victims of crime have the right to expect that forces will allocate their crime to someone with the appropriate skills to investigate it.”

On how police force us their resources, HMI Parr said:

“When it comes to efficiency, force performance varies widely. We graded six forces as outstanding, and two as inadequate. The variation between forces becomes starker when considering how well forces are planning for the future.”

On how police forces treat the public and their workforce, HMI Parr said:

“We have graded most forces as good for their legitimacy. But it is the pillar with the least movement in grades since our 2017 legitimacy inspection. It takes effort to maintain performance against a backdrop of reduced resources and rising crime. But this also suggests that there is less determination to improve and less innovation in this area. Where policing has focused its attention, it has made improvements.”

Get the report

PEEL spotlight report: Diverging under pressure – Overview of themes from PEEL inspections 2018/19


  1. HMICFRS is an independent inspectorate, inspecting policing and fire and rescue services in the public interest. It assesses and reports on the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces and fire and rescue services. HMICFRS inspects all 43 police forces in England and Wales together with other major policing and law enforcement bodies. It also inspects 45 fire and rescue services in England.
  2. HMICFRS has now published its Integrated PEEL Assessment for each of the 43 police forces in England and Wales. 14 force reports are published today. In those forces:
    • on effectiveness, we graded 13 forces as good, and one as requiring improvement
    • on efficiency, we graded three forces as outstanding, eight as good, and three as requiring improvement.
    • on legitimacy, we graded 13 forces as good, and one as requiring improvement.
  3. Because we inspect forces using a risk-based approach, it is a realistic possibility that a small minority of these results may be more positive than they would otherwise have been.
  4. For further information, HMICFRS’s press office can be contacted from 9:00am – 5:00pm Monday – Friday on 020 3513 0600.
  5. HMICFRS’s out-of-hours press office line for urgent media enquiries is 07836 217729.