State of Policing: The Annual Assessment of Policing in England and Wales 2021

Published on: 10 March 2022

Overview by Sir Thomas Winsor, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary

The past ten years have seen many changes in policing, both in its institutions and forces’ performance.

In relation to its organisation, in a significant number of respects the changes have probably been more radical than any for a hundred years, when the Police Federation of England and Wales was established following the police strikes of 1919 and the Desborough Committee report led to the reform of police pay in 1920.

Democratic accountability of the police changed with the establishment of local policing bodies (police and crime commissioners and their mayoral equivalents) replacing police authorities. The College of Policing was established as the professional body for the police, replacing the National Policing Improvement Agency and the Central Police Training and Developmental Authority. The National Crime Agency (NCA) replaced the short-lived Serious Organised Crime Agency. The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) replaced the Independent Police Complaints Commission. The Association of Chief Police Officers was replaced by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC). The Home Office took a position of substantial (not, of course, complete) detachment from policing, but recently has adopted a more interventionist stance. Police pay and conditions of service have undergone more reform than at any time since Desborough. A system of direct entry to higher ranks in policing has been introduced; it is more extensive than the Trenchard system of 1934. The Police Federation of England and Wales has reformed itself. And Her Majesty’s Inspectorate has changed a great deal, including with the appointment of the first chief inspector of constabulary who has not served as a police officer, and a majority of the other inspectors of constabulary coming from non-policing backgrounds. The National Policing Board has been established.

In those ten years, there have been many improvements in the things the police do and how they are done. There have been critical advances in several fields of policing, including: domestic abuse; child protection and sensitivity to the needs of the most vulnerable; crime recording; the quality of some investigations; relations with the public; and diversity in policing. Most forces are better at assessing and planning for future demand, and in understanding the capacities and capabilities of their workforces.

However, only perfection is incapable of improvement, and the police are far from perfect; there are things which need to get better. In some regrettable respects, in several forces things have got worse. There remain a number of recurring problematical themes, of which I have written in previous years’ State of Policing reports. Some relate to unacceptably wide inconsistencies in performance between police forces. Detection rates in some crime types are very low and have deteriorated. In many respects, the police service, other public services (not only in the criminal justice system) and the Government haven’t adequately addressed some of these serious and persistent problems. Therefore, conditions in society generally, and police efficiency and effectiveness, haven’t in every respect improved to the extent the public would reasonably expect. Some of these problems are attributable to increases and changes in demand, reductions in police numbers (now being reversed) and financial constraints. Some are attributable to failures in forces to become sufficiently efficient.

It is also disappointing that two years after it was committed to, the Government still has taken no apparent steps to establish the promised Royal Commission on Criminal Justice. I fear that this will not now happen in the present Parliament, but it should. Later in this report, I explain why.

There is one aspect of policing which is in need of no reform. That is the courage and commitment of police officers when faced with danger, sometimes extreme peril to themselves and those they are sworn to protect. These qualities are prevalent and commendable.

For extensive evidence of the selflessness and bravery of police officers, one need look no further than the National Police Bravery Awards, hosted by the Police Federation. In 2021, the citations that accompanied each of the nominations provided irrefutable evidence of the dangers and risks that police officers unhesitatingly confront.

They included:

  • tackling violent offenders armed with various weapons, including firearms, knives and, in one case, a Samurai sword which had just been used to kill a man;
  • entering cold, fast-flowing rivers to rescue people;
  • saving people doused in petrol, at least one of whom was alight;
  • on busy roads, pulling drunk and drugged people from the paths of oncoming traffic;
  • rescuing people from submerged vehicles and burning buildings;
  • confronting a marauding terrorist;
  • an off-duty, lone female officer confronting a group of drunk and aggressive men on a train; and
  • two officers who risked their lives when trying to stop a dangerous animal from attacking its owners; a father and son were killed but the officers’ actions were credited with saving the lives of the mother and daughter.

In some instances, officers dealing with these cases sustained serious injuries including knife and gunshot wounds.

It must also and always be recognised that police officers and staff must endure and cope with severe stresses that come not only from the pressure of the job and the workload, but also from the most appalling things officers must face in their working lives. I do not only mean the angry and dangerous man, armed with a weapon; or the reckless or even murderous driver of a vehicle; or the person in mental health crisis, endangering his or her own life or the lives of people nearby. I also mean serious road traffic collisions; sudden deaths and suicides, sometimes of young people; people who have died in fires or by violence of all kinds. The person who died alone, whose body was not found for a long time; the death of a baby; the most unspeakable crimes against children; the list goes on and on. The welfare of officers and staff in police forces is of very great importance. These things have profound and lifelong effects on the police officers and staff who have to deal with them. It is inevitable that they will take those experiences home, and they will live with them for ever. And these experiences affect their families as they must cope too.

Police officers – be they regular, paid officers or volunteer, special constables – deserve our profound gratitude for their courage and commitment.

Primary purpose: justice and prevention

Justice is the people’s business. Its quality – both in its processes and results – is a measure of our civilisation, and a material distinguishing characteristic of our system in comparison with those of many other countries, where justice remains elusive or doesn’t exist at all.

Article 40 of Magna Carta 1215 provides: “To no one will we sell, to no one will we refuse or delay, right or justice.” Our system is – and for many years has been – one of public justice. Everyone – no matter what he or she is alleged to have done – is entitled to justice, to face his or her accusers, to know which published laws he or she is said to have broken, and to require prosecutors in public view to produce the evidence of his or her guilt. He or she is entitled to have that evidence tested and evaluated in an impartial tribunal according to objectively fair and certain, published criteria and procedures. Only in the narrowest and most exceptional cases can there ever be qualifications on those rights, and those qualifications themselves must be hedged with strong safeguards to ensure fairness.

Because the liberty of the individual and the safety of the community are at stake, it is in criminal justice where the highest standards, the greatest exertions to ensure justice, are necessary. And it should be remembered that prosecutions are brought in the name of the Crown – the community – not the victim. [1] That is because justice in a particular case is of importance to the whole community, not only to those most closely involved with or affected by that offence.

Those imperatives exist not only to ensure justice in the particular case; they hold good because the quality of public criminal justice establishes standards which affect the whole community – victims, witnesses, those accused of offences and everyone else – and is a public declaration and demonstration of what society will and will not tolerate. The quality of public justice is a matter of the greatest concern to everyone, because conspicuous failures can establish precedents which corrode the fabric of justice and may eventually lead to its destruction. Thomas Paine summarised it this way: “He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.”[2] Everyone has a right to a fair trial, whatever the abhorrent nature of the crime of which he or she stands accused. Justice is absolute, and the right of every person. Since justice is fairness, the right to be treated fairly by the community, including in the enforcement of the criminal law by its chosen instruments – police officers and other law enforcement officials – is essential. The British model of policing by consent requires not only fair treatment, but conspicuously fair treatment, including courtesy and respect for the citizen.

Justice is an essential part in the maintenance of peace, order and security, itself one of the oldest functions of civil society. The prevention of crime and the successful, timely and efficient apprehension and conviction of criminals, their humane treatment and effective rehabilitation, therefore rank among the highest obligations of the state. The lack of efficient and effective policing – visible and otherwise – would imperil public safety and diminish the reach and quality of public justice. The police are therefore one of the most essential of our public services.

The founder of the modern police service, Sir Robert Peel, established nine principles for the police in London. These principles – set out in Annex C to this report – hold good and apply today in all police forces in the United Kingdom. They have also been adopted in a number of other countries. At their heart is the ancient principle that it is the obligation of every citizen to maintain order in his or her community, to prevent and suppress crime and to pursue and bring to public justice those who break the criminal law. Unlike the police of many other countries, our police service is not the coercive instrument of the executive government, there to carry out the will of that government. In such cases, most citizens live in fear of the police, who are very much a paramilitary force operating to control rather than serve the public, set apart from and placed above the public, and operating according to directions from politicians and government officials. The British model of policing is fundamentally different. Its roots and authority are different; they are in and of the community from which its officers come and of which they always remain part. The allegiance of every constable is to the community, represented by the Crown, and to the law, established by Parliament and the courts and enforced by an independent judiciary. Peel’s principles acknowledge this:

“The power of the police to fulfil their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect […] To secure and maintain the respect and approval of the public means also the securing of the willing cooperation of the public in the task of securing observance of laws […] [The police must] maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence […] [It should be recognised] always that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them.”

The primary purpose of the police is the prevention of crime. Virtually all of the costs of the criminal justice system are incurred downstream of the commission of an offence. In policing and criminal justice, prevention is far better than cure. It is therefore extremely important that the first obligation of the police, in preventing crime, is given the attention and resources required.

It should also be acknowledged that crime prevention is not the sole obligation of the police; it is the obligation of every citizen. The police sit at the nexus of intractable social problems and high public expectations. The prevention and suppression of crime and disorder is a duty also incumbent upon the public and the other agencies and emanations of communities and the state. Parents and families, as well as schools and other educational institutions, must instil in children a strong appreciation of right and wrong, and the reality, instincts and inclinations, motivations and means to behave as responsible, law-abiding citizens, and not to be drawn into disorder, crime or the circumstances which create and intensify the conditions in which crime is the easiest and most attractive option. Prevention is also an obligation of health professionals, particularly in the field of mental health where undiagnosed or untreated illness can, as we know, lead to the commission of serious violent crime.

A number of studies have shown that, in very many cases, offending behaviour and mental ill health go hand in hand. In each of my preceding eight annual assessments, I have mentioned the increased demand on policing created by inadequacies in the provision of mental health services. Despite these repeated warnings, in a 2021 joint inspection with the other criminal justice and healthcare inspectorates, we found a shortage of good-quality mental health service provision and unacceptable delays in accessing it. These delays have worsened during the pandemic.[3] That report also said that approximately a third of people who find themselves in police custody have mental ill health, as do 48 percent of men and 70 percent of women in prison.[4]

These statistics speak for themselves. Although the police’s primary purpose is the prevention of crime, in cases where mental ill health is an appreciable factor, it would be unrealistic to expect the police to make significant progress as long as the public provision of treatment for mental ill health continues to be chronically insufficient.

Drug and alcohol addiction are also closely linked to mental ill health.

As I explained in more detail in State of Policing 2017, the roots of all these problems often lie in adverse childhood experiences; some children who grow up in abusive environments struggle to cope in adulthood. Only significant and far-reaching changes in the approach of policymakers will achieve the improvements needed to better protect children. What is more, such changes will be substantially the only effective means to reduce the prevalence of domestic, physical and sexual abuse, reduce violence, and reduce organised crime and drug and alcohol addiction which begin or take hold in childhood. If these changes were ever to be made, they would have a profoundly beneficial effect on what the police are expected to do. As Frederick Douglass, a prominent 19th century American statesman, famously said: “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men”.

The other parts of the criminal justice system, namely the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the judiciary, the prison service and probation, have material parts to play in ensuring that offenders are prosecuted, receive appropriate sentences which meet the combined purposes of punishment, public protection and rehabilitation, and that the probabilities of reoffending are kept to the irreducible minimum.

The criminal justice system is of course concerned with the consequences of the failure to prevent crime. The causes of crime are many. They include: social dysfunctionality; families in crisis; the failings of parents and communities; the disintegration of deference and respect for authority; alcohol; drugs; a misplaced and unjustified desire or determination to exert power over others; envy; greed; materialism; the corrosive effects of readily available hardcore pornography; and the suppression of instincts of revulsion to violence through the conditioning effect of exposure to distasteful and extreme video games and films. Unsurprisingly, there is no definitive list that police forces could use when considering how best to construct crime prevention plans. As I have said, it should also be borne in mind that many people who offend today were victims of abuse or neglect when they were much younger. A significant proportion of inmates in British prisons have low levels of literacy and numeracy, and receive little or no education in prison.

And some people are just selfish, greedy or wicked.

A great deal of the most valuable work in crime prevention is done by organisations such as the Early Intervention Foundation. This organisation helps local entities use the best available evidence to intervene with troubled and chaotic families and individuals. It tries to give them stability and purpose in their lives to divert them from the temptations of crime or the downward spiral to offending.

Police and crime commissioners have considerable power and influence in this respect, including the power to provide funding for worthwhile activities to occupy young people and so divert them from crime and the temptations of crime.

Sir Kenneth Newman, when Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, rightly insisted that: “Crime is a problem for society as a whole; it is too important to be left to the police alone.”[5] There are many agencies of the state which have responsibility in this respect, and they are joined by organisations in the private and voluntary sectors, including those responsible for the provision of support and assistance to victims of crime.

Crime statistics – whether they show increases or falls – matter little to the victims of crime, many of whom suffer terribly. A single murder usually has multiple victims, because the family, friends and others close to the person who has been killed suffer for all of their lives. The loss of someone in these circumstances can – and very frequently does – have corrosive, life-changing effects which can last for very many years and spread to harm relationships and people’s capacity to form relationships. Theirs too are life sentences, and can reach down generations. The same is just as true of other violent crimes, in particular crimes of a sexual nature and crimes against children and other vulnerable people. The sufferings of victims blight and often shorten lives. And property crime, particularly burglary, robbery and fraud, also has long-lasting and profound adverse effects on victims and others; fears as to the sanctity of a home, or the safety of going out, can be severe and last a very long time, well after the offender, if caught and imprisoned, has been released, often to do it again.

While the police may be effective and efficient in bringing some offenders to justice, some very material concerns remain over the low numbers of investigative outcomes for many crime types. It is therefore important that the police get upstream of offences, and intensify their efforts to prevent crime, in partnership with the other agencies and emanations of the state and the public.

Given the significant interdependency of the different agencies and institutions concerned with the prevention of crime, it is undeniable that appreciable limitations on the resources available to them have consequential adverse effects on the efficiency and effectiveness of the police. However, it must always be remembered that, once a crime has been committed, it is the police who bear the responsibility of investigating the crime, apprehending the offender and taking the case to the appropriate point in the criminal justice system. It is unjustifiable for any police force to decline to attend at and properly investigate crimes of a serious nature, such as burglary or domestic abuse.

Moreover, the trust and responsibility which the community has given to the police go much further than an expectation that the police will react to reports of crime. Many crimes are unreported, sometimes because victims are vulnerable or otherwise afraid. Examples include domestic abuse, sexual offences[6] and offences against children. They also include crimes taking place within communities whose cultures may sometimes regard their traditions and ancient practices, including concepts of honour, as superior to the criminal law. In all these cases, barriers of one kind or another exist. It is the responsibility of the police proactively to look for these crimes, and to devise and implement measures to increase the confidence of victims in reporting crimes and giving evidence, and to persuade those who erect and maintain those barriers that they will be pursued and prosecuted.

Those who knowingly and deliberately create or tolerate the conditions in which crimes are committed and victims are isolated from protection and justice should be given the most potent grounds to fear the criminal law, operated and applied vigorously by the law enforcement institutions of the state. Reactive policing is only a part of the function of the police; chief constables, police and crime commissioners and others should never dismiss or disregard the imperative of keeping everyone safe, especially the silent, the fearful and the weak.

It is essential that the criminal justice system never forgets that, when an offence has been committed, a victim has almost always been created. It is important that the police, and the other agencies of the criminal justice system and entities associated with it, discharge their obligations of compassionate and sensitive engagement in communication with the victims of crime, to rebuild their trust and faith in their safety and security, and the common obligations of their fellow citizens to use their strength to help those with a deficit in it, particularly at times of vulnerability and crisis.

Law enforcement, not law creation

The law – criminal and civil – is made by Parliament in primary legislation, by ministers in delegated legislation authorised by Acts of Parliament, and by the courts in the development of the common law. In no part of our constitution is there a right of a chief constable – or any police officer – to declare or create a new criminal offence in his or her police area.

Moreover, in this country, which operates under the rule of law, there is no such thing as a thought crime. Hatred of a particular person or persons with certain characteristics is not, of itself, a crime. Hatred is an attitude of mind. There is undoubtedly a case for a hatred of a member of a particular group to be an aggravating factor in the commission of an offence – for example stalking, harassment or violence – and upon conviction for that to be duly reflected in a sentencing decision. In some cases, it already is. But hating someone or something is not criminal.

It is not appropriate for senior police officers, serving or retired, to assert a right of the police to declare anything criminal, least of all what people may think. They have no legal power to create criminal offences in their police areas or anywhere else. It is important that no-one is misled: the police enforce the law, they do not make it.

The state of the criminal justice system

All my State of Policing reports have included references to the criminal justice system, of which the police form an important part. In State of Policing 2018, I described the system as dysfunctional and defective in some respects.[7] I noted that, largely because of perilous, unsafe conditions in prisons and insufficient provision for rehabilitation, many people become trapped in a cycle of offending, conviction, punishment, release and reoffending.

I made those observations some six months before the first COVID-19 cases emerged in the United Kingdom.

The pandemic materially and adversely affected the operation of the criminal justice system. In a joint inspection report in January 2021, my fellow criminal justice chief inspectors and I praised the determined efforts and commitment of all those who work in the system and the swift and effective decisions they made.

We also expressed grave concerns that the cumulative impact of the sheer number of changes – large and small – prompted by COVID-19 would prove deleterious to victims, witnesses and defendants alike.[8]

Delays in the system

In particular, we sounded warnings about the extent of backlogs in the Crown Court. And in the months that followed, the position deteriorated. At the end of June 2021, the number of cases awaiting Crown Court trial was the highest it had been for almost a decade.[9]

This high volume of cases, with finite court capacity to hear them, creates unacceptable delays in the system. It was recently announced that magistrates are to be given increased sentencing powers to reduce pressure on Crown Courts.[10] It remains to be seen whether that will improve the quality of justice.

In January 2022, it was reported that criminal prosecution delays hit a record average of 708 days. Delays take a heavy toll on everyone involved in a case. In these respects at least, justice is failed.

The investigation and prosecution of rape allegations

The statistics also include rape, an offence with a consistently low conviction rate. Defendants accused of rape or serious sexual offences are typically more likely to plead not guilty compared with those accused of other offences.[11] It is difficult to comprehend the intensely stressful effects of protracted delays in the system on rape complainants and those accused of rape while their cases await trial.

In July 2021, we and HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate published the first of two joint inspection reports on the police and the CPS’s response to allegations of rape. While we found examples of effective individuals and teams in every force and CPS area, the criminal justice system’s response to such allegations too often lacked focus, clarity and commitment. We also found that it failed to put victims at the heart of building strong cases. This is despite the national focus by the Government, policing and the CPS on improving outcomes in such cases. There needs to be an urgent, profound and fundamental shift in how rape cases are investigated and prosecuted.

Criminal defence

The criminal justice system is imperilled in another way. A July 2021 House of Commons Justice Committee report described the legal aid system as in urgent need of reform.[12]

Echoing earlier concerns raised by the Law Society, the report warns that some professions central to the application of timely justice are hollowing out because of legal aid cuts. Law firms are having difficulty in recruiting and retaining lawyers, with many leaving to join the CPS. Fewer barristers are able to build their careers through publicly funded work, and the opportunities for sufficient cross-subsidisation from private work are diminishing.

Without a sustainable publicly funded criminal defence profession, suspects and defendants will not have access to high-quality legal support that justice demands.

Moreover, it is manifestly unjust for acquitted defendants to face financial ruin because the state has impugned their innocence and put them through the stress and high expense of an investigation and trial.

Local accountability

Democratic accountability of the police did not begin in 2012, when police and crime commissioners replaced police authorities. The police have never been unaccountable. They are accountable primarily to the law, and must discharge their common law and statutory obligations to enforce the law without preference, fear or favour. The volume of civil litigation against the police is testament to the extent to which the courts are regularly required to delimit the liability of the police to the public, and to explain their constitutional position. It is a healthy part of a mature democracy.

Parliament has established additional lines of accountability. Locally, that is primarily in the hands of the police and crime commissioner or, in some areas, the mayor. Overall responsibility for police policy and much else is in the hands of the Home Secretary.

In discharging the many obligations on him or her, the chief constable must have regard to the police and crime plan of the police and crime commissioner, and take reasonable steps to assist the police and crime commissioner in the exercise of the commissioner’s functions. In the police and crime plan, the police and crime commissioner establishes local priorities. He or she also sets the budget and appoints and, after due process, may dismiss the chief constable. Dismissal is broadly on the grounds of lack of trust and confidence or significantly poor efficiency and effectiveness.

These powers of the police and crime commissioner do not constitute the chief constable as the agent or servant of the police and crime commissioner; their relationship is not one of superior and supplicant. Their constitutional positions are complementary; they are reasonably clearly established in statute and the decisions of the courts. Even so, too many chief constables appear to have a lack of confidence in the position and the resilience of the boundary between democratic accountability established in legislation, and the extent of their operational independence. This is so, even though operational independence is insisted upon in legislation and in the oath of the police and crime commissioner. I explained this more fully in State of Policing 2020.

Before the 2021 elections of police and crime commissioners, in some parts of the country there was an atmosphere of mistrust and fear, especially among chief constables whose fixed term contracts did not take them to full pension entitlement. Some police and crime commissioners were considered to be abusing their powers, whether consciously or otherwise. Some appeared, even then, to believe that their police and crime plans were orders for the chief, and were thought to apply improper pressure to see that they were carried out. Uncertain of their true constitutional positions, or believing that it would be too hard to defend and protect against a determined and impatient politician, the deference and obedience demanded of chiefs sometimes were yielded. Resistance was thought to be potentially at too high cost to the chief. I emphasise that this was in a minority of cases, but any such minority is too large.

Whereas the constitutional positions of police and politicians should be clear and respected, these difficulties in the past sometimes rendered the commissioner-chief relationship brittle and liable to fracture. Sometimes it did. That is not in the public interest.

Although most of the weakest police and crime commissioners and those who were thought to have disregarded the limitations on their powers are no longer in office, the potential for constitutional dissonance remains. If there are recurrences of these problems, sooner or later there will be a significant case of judicial review concerning the true limits of the powers of the police and crime commissioner and the constitutional position of the chief constable.

When these problems come about, regrettably the energies and attentions of the chief officer team can be materially distracted to the detriment of the efficiency and effectiveness of the force. This is the opposite of what the law requires and the public needs.

The Home Office should use its powers and influence to provide much greater guidance to police and crime commissioners and chiefs about the constitutional positions of each, and ideally should do so before investing police and crime commissioners with more powers. I am sure that both police and crime commissioners and chiefs would welcome this.

There is also a strong case for difficulties of this kind to be mediated at an early stage, so far as possible to defuse tensions and restore what Parliament intended to be a harmonious and respectful relationship of trust and confidence between police and politician. While always capable of improvement, the current local accountability model has considerable strengths and advantages.Police and crime commissioners have had many commendable successes when their relationships with chiefs have been good, and in these cases the public interest has been well served. These benefits need to be protected and intensified, not risked.

Culture and behaviour

The vast majority of the men and women who work as police officers and staff consistently adhere to the highest levels of propriety that the job requires and the public rightly expect. However, not all officers do. Each year, a small number of individuals are dismissed having been found to have committed gross misconduct. Such misconduct may involve matters such as dishonesty, incivility, undue levels of aggression, or abuse of position for a sexual purpose.

Recent reports – including from the IOPC[13] – have contained highly alarming evidence of toxic behaviour and attitudes among some police officers. It is undeniable that almost all police officers and staff are furious about these things, and would be the first to say that such people should be immediately disgraced and expelled from the police service. Public confidence in the police is more than precious, it is essential. The police – our fellow citizens, members of and drawn from communities – depend on public trust and co-operation. When that trust is damaged by cases of flagrant violations, it is essential that public reassurance in the integrity and professionalism of the police is restored and reaffirmed as quickly as possible. The public can and must trust the police.

n this respect, no case stands out more than the 2021 case of the latterly dismissed police constable who murdered Sarah Everard. Abusing his authority as a police officer, he abducted, raped and murdered her. The horrifying facts that slowly emerged following Sarah Everard’s disappearance, and then the perpetrator’s arrest, charge, conviction and sentencing, raised very important questions about the police’s recruitment and vetting arrangements, and some elements of police culture – in particular those concerning the treatment of women.

These events have prompted several assessments, including:

  • the Home Office-sponsored independent inquiry by the Rt Hon Dame Elish Angiolini DBE QC into the matters arising from the abduction, rape and murder of Sarah Everard;
  • a Metropolitan Police-sponsored review of the force’s culture and standards of behaviour, led by Baroness Casey of Blackstock DBE CB;
  • several investigations of allegations of misconduct by the IOPC; and
  • a thematic inspection by HMICFRS of police vetting and counter-corruption arrangements.

At the time of completing this year’s State of Policing report, these several forms of scrutiny are at different stages.

Some of the facts of this case very clearly present major concerns. The perpetrator first joined Kent Police as a special constable in 2005. He then became a full-time constable in the Civil Nuclear Constabulary before transferring to the Metropolitan Police Service. There – as an officer in the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Group – he had ready access to the Parliamentary estate.

Given his movement into the police service and between individual forces, and the most heinous nature of his crimes, it is difficult to imagine that the inquiries’ conclusions will include anything other than a need for significant change. Improvements are likely to be required to the police service’s arrangements for the recruitment, vetting and continual monitoring of its workforce.

It must be remembered that police officers are vested with unique powers to detain people, search them, take away their property and deprive them of their liberty. The service has a great responsibility to do all it reasonably can to ensure its officers are fit to hold these powers. This is especially because police officers are often required to apply a high degree of professional discretion when deciding whether, when, where and why their powers will be used.

Despite many enduring problems, a strong, pragmatic, can-do attitude among the rank and file has very consistently been a theme over the past ten years. The public should be reassured by this commendable aspect of police culture. This culture extends to the families of police officers, many of whom make major sacrifices to support partners, husbands, wives, sons and daughters who serve as police officers and staff.

Policing today has developed significantly from the occupation that Sir Robert Peel envisaged at the beginning of the 19th century. The sophistication, intelligence and resources of some who are engaged in crime, the malignancy of their motives and methods, and the technology available to all citizens, mean that the profession of policing will continue to require people of the highest integrity, intelligence and skill. The needs of the police service for such qualities are intensified by the weight of the modern criminal law, and the demands and expectations of the public and other agencies of the state.

The qualities required to be a good police officer are many. They include: personal bravery; intelligence; physical fitness; maturity; sound judgment; the ability to assess a situation and to deal with people; self-control; integrity; honesty; compassion; courtesy; perseverance; and patience. Policing is not a job; it is a vocation, and a noble one.

The greatest asset of the police service is its people – police officers and police staff. Those assets should be nurtured and developed with skill and sensitivity in order to release their greatest potential. In too many respects, officers and staff suffer frustration and must work around inefficiency and unnecessary bureaucracy, antiquated and malfunctioning systems and practices which belong to a past age, blunting their ability to serve the public which the very great majority are eager and determined to do.

Police officers and police staff have a very great deal of which to be proud. Too often their successes go unnoticed, or are not fully and properly understood or appreciated. It must also be recognised that much of policing is invisible, and yet provides safety and security to millions of citizens. The fields of tackling serious and organised crime, child sexual abuse and exploitation, and repeat anti-social behaviour – often working with other agencies – are but three of the areas where the public has little appreciation or knowledge of just what the police and other law enforcement professionals do, and how well they do it.

The police service is almost certainly unique in investing in its lowest-ranking people the greatest amount of its executive power. In 1960, the Royal Commission on the Police stated that the individual responsibility of the police officer is more onerous than any delegated or assumed by any comparable profession or occupation. That remains the case. Some material aspects of policing are unique; police officers have the power to take away the liberty of the citizen, to use force and to subject him or her to search and detention. Police officers, in civil society, represent both the majesty and the threat of the state. They have a monopoly on the coercive power of the state. Unlike the military, police officers are in close daily contact with both the people they are sworn to protect, and the people who would violate the rights of other citizens.

It is therefore essential that the infrastructure around the constable is designed and attuned to his and her needs, so that they may discharge with the greatest efficiency and effectiveness the onerous duties which society has placed upon their shoulders.

In the United Kingdom, we have a precious system of policing by consent. In England and Wales, there are approximately 138,000 full-time police officers, 9,000 police community support officers, and a further 76,000 police staff,[14] responsible for the safety and preservation of order in a population in England and Wales of approximately 60 million.[15] It is not a militaristic model, where the police are the coercive arm of the executive government.

It is fundamentally different. It is a civilian police service; police officers are civilians in uniform, possessing and discharging powers given to them freely by the consent of the communities which they serve. Police officers are not employees; they are Crown servants, accountable to the law and not to the political leadership of the country. A police officer has a discretion in relation to the use of his or her powers, and no police officer can be lawfully ordered to make an arrest.

In establishing the principles of policing in 1829, Home Secretary Sir Robert Peel drew upon the historic tradition and obligation of every member of the community to suppress crime and detect and apprehend offenders. Those obligations come from the centuries long before we had police officers, where every citizen had to answer the call of hue and cry, and citizens took it in turn to keep watch at night for the safety of their communities.

The criminal justice system should operate as a single system, with properly designed and efficiently operating interfaces. In too many respects, this is still not the case. And the quality of interaction and co-operation between the wider public and protective services, including social services, health and education, needs to be improved. Each service must fully and properly discharge its responsibilities, rather than abdicate them at the expense of the one public service which will never say no. In this and so many other respects, police and crime commissioners have a very significant part to play.

If the police are to maintain and intensify the essential levels of public support which I have described, they need the assistance of all parts of society. Every effort must be made to ensure that the people who join the police service come from the widest possible pool of talent in society. This includes from the communities which are under-represented in policing and so many other fields of public and private activity. It is necessary also that the police observe the single and overriding principle that entry into and advancement within the police service should be entirely according to merit.

The degree of public acceptance of the use of police powers, and the extent to which communities will support the police in the ways I have described, is, to a material extent, a function of the trust and confidence of communities, and whether the police officer in that community resembles and has a natural affinity with the people of that community. And therefore, consistent with the principle of merit I have described, the police should significantly intensify the steps they are taking to inform and encourage members of the parts of communities who are not proportionately represented in the police about the attractions of a police career.

Understanding demand

In 2015, we embarked upon a programme with police forces to introduce, develop and refine the production of force management statements (FMSs). We require each force to produce a statement each year.[16]

FMSs are modelled on network management statements used in other safety-critical monopoly essential public services.

Each FMS is a four-year projection of the demand, asset stewardship, efficiency and financial resources of the police force. It is a self-assessment provided to the inspectorate under the signature of the chief constable. The statement must cover all projected demand: crime and non-crime, latent and patent. It must contain the chief constable’s evaluation of the condition, capacity, capability, performance, serviceability, efficiency and security of supply of the force’s workforce and other assets. And it must include projections of the financial resources which the force expects to have to use those assets to meet that demand.

In State of Policing 2015, and in those of subsequent years, I have included detailed explanations of the FMS concept. I have also included explanations of our progress, working with chief constables and police and crime commissioners, to implement the programme. It hasn’t been easy; in the early years some chief constables and police and crime commissioners were resistant, struggling to understand the value of producing such a statement.

Since then, the police service has made considerable advances. Compared with the position in 2015, forces and the inspectorate now have a greatly improved understanding of the service’s levels of resourcing and levels of demand for services, and the relationship between the two. It is now possible for policymakers, policing institutions and the public to have much greater understanding of aggregate demand on the police and how well forces are preparing for the future.

FMSs have helped to expose a critical gap between the money the public provide to the police and what the public expect to get for it.

The nature of demand is changing over time

Over the past ten years, demand on the police has changed – and continues to change – very significantly. Violence, abuse and acquisitive crime, such as burglary and theft, have always been prevalent. In addition, economic crime today is far more widespread, and has four principal distinguishing features: complexity, encryption, volume and speed. As discussed later, online crime is now by far the most prevalent type of crime, and by means of the internet fraud has exploded; in volume, it eclipses everything. Mental ill health is also an additional aggravating factor.

Over the past five years, the volume of non-emergency (101) calls to forces in England and Wales has fallen by 27 percent, partly as a result of a shift to online reporting and partly because of the pandemic. However, the volume of emergency (999) calls has remained fairly constant over the same period, with the police receiving approximately 9.3 million emergency calls each year. Between 2014–15 and 2019–20, the annual volume of police-recorded crime went up by almost 50 percent (from approximately four million crimes each year to approximately six million), before falling slightly in 2020–21 (largely as a result of the pandemic).[17] In 2014/15, approximately half of all recorded crimes resulted in a suspect not being identified. [18] Now, the proportion is approximately a third. [19]

There are a variety of reasons for this. There are many more demands on the police, such as tackling organised crime, and increasingly complex investigations that may involve particularly vulnerable, traumatised people or the use of sophisticated technology, and offences that span local, regional, national or international borders. The rise in reports of crimes to the police, in many respects, is likely to be indicative of a higher confidence of the public that the police will take action. In addition, in many cases, the police’s record in diligently and accurately recording crime has improved markedly. A substantial part of the increase in crime is accounted for by fraud and other online offences. I deal with this in more detail later in this report.

The gap between resourcing levels and public expectations

The police service cannot meet all the demand it faces. Indeed, the entirety of the sources and nature of all policing demands aren’t yet comprehensively understood.

Given that the police cannot meet all future demand – properly understood – the essential question is: what does the public want the police to do less of?

The police service can’t meet 100 percent of public expectations for, say, 70 percent of their efficient cost. The police can only be reasonably expected to reach their highest practicable level of efficiency with the money they are given. Even when – more probably if – they achieve their highest practicable level of efficiency, something must give. If resources are not to be increased, there must be a reduction in the demand that the police will be required or expected to meet, or in the quality of the service provided.

Through their elected representatives, the public need to decide how much safety they are prepared to pay for, and how much risk they are prepared to tolerate. Essentially, the police’s political and operational leaders have to make difficult decisions. These often involve considerable trade-offs between those aspects of demand that are to be prioritised and those that aren’t.

Child protection

In a national thematic report of July 2015, we reported that the overall quality of police practice in protecting and safeguarding vulnerable children needed to improve.[20] In more than a third of the 576 cases we examined, the police’s actions were inadequate. We found weaknesses and inconsistencies at all stages of the child’s experience throughout the child protection system – from initial contact with the police through to investigation of the alleged offences. In many cases, the police responded well to this 2015 report.

In a further national thematic report of February 2020, we reported seeing an unambiguous commitment from police leaders, officers and staff to the protection of children. We also found improvements (and in some instances, significant improvements) in the service received by children at risk. We found that signs of vulnerability were more effectively recognised, and the assessment of risk was generally better. Broadly speaking, the way in which the police work with other organisations has matured, and the quality of multi-agency planning and decision-making has got better. This has resulted in improvements in the outcomes for some, though not all, of the most vulnerable children.[21]

Certain forces deserve to be singled out for praise. In December 2018, in a post-inspection review of Lancashire Constabulary, we found improvements had been made since our inspection 18 months earlier. We stated: “There has been a real prioritisation of child protection, meaning that the force is now well placed to tackle all forms of child abuse.”

In 2019, in our post-inspection review of Merseyside Police, we also found that the force had made significant improvements. We praised the force for making changes and acting on our 2018 recommendations in a manner which aims for long-term, sustainable changes rather than temporary quick fixes.

But, as is so often the case with our inspection findings, performance between police forces varies considerably, as does the rate at which forces seem able – or willing – to secure much-needed improvements in their performance.

In our 2016 child protection inspection of the Metropolitan Police Service – by far the largest police force in England and Wales – we reported fundamental and widespread deficiencies in the way the force understood and dealt with the needs of and risks to children. That report was the most damning report the inspectorate has ever published on any subject and on any police force.

That inspection report prompted the Home Secretary to commission us to publish quarterly reports in 2017 on the Metropolitan Police Service’s progress against our recommendations. Because of the findings of those quarterly inspections, we remained concerned. We therefore carried out further inspections in 2018 and 2021.

In our September 2021 report, we described how the pace of change since 2016 had at times been slow. The Metropolitan Police Service has made progress in some areas, but it has more to do to achieve consistently better outcomes for children.

Child protection is another aspect of policing in which all police forces must work closely with other public services. Shortcomings in any of these services can expose children to the most appalling neglect and abuse, sometimes with fatal consequences.

An epidemic of violence against women and girls

An aspect of policing in which the extent of demand has become clearer is the level of violence against women and girls. In 2021, we published two reports on this, and reports on rape and domestic abuse.[22] Violence against women and girls is an epidemic.

Over the past decade, an average of 80 women a year were killed by a partner or ex-partner. In the year ending March 2020, it was estimated that 1.6 million women (and 757,000 men) in England and Wales suffered domestic abuse.[23] In one recent survey, two out of three 16- to 34-year-old girls or women reported that they had been sexually harassed in the past year.[24]

Our reports helped to guide the design and implementation of the Government’s new strategy for tackling violence against women and girls, its end-to-end review of rape, and its forthcoming domestic abuse strategy. In all of these, the police have a vital role to play. Their responsibilities include: prevention; treating with care and sensitivity those who report crimes against them; thoroughly investigating allegations; making good use of the legal instruments [25] available to them to protect vulnerable victims; relentlessly pursuing those who commit offences; and working with other organisations to make sure these victims get the wider support they need.

As a result of our recommendations, the NPCC has appointed a dedicated chief officer to take national responsibility for leading the police’s work in this respect.[26] By March 2022, all forces are expected to draw up action plans, partly based on the recommendations of our report.

Crime data integrity: a polarised picture

In 2014, we published a thematic inspection report which established that the national average of under-recording of crimes was almost one in five.[27] In these cases, with very few exceptions, this meant reports of crime were not investigated at all. Perpetrators went free to offend again, victims, witnesses and the community were denied justice, and chief constables’ understanding of demand, and therefore their decisions on the deployment of their resources, were fundamentally distorted. This was a disgrace.

As a result, we established a rolling programme of the inspection of crime recording, which lasted several more years.

In State of Policing 2019, I said that crime recording had improved considerably, with the combined recording accuracy for all reported crime in England and Wales standing at 90.3 percent.[28] However, this still meant that almost one in ten complaints went unrecorded. And this headline figure conceals some major differences between the performance of certain police forces.

The underlying picture is now one of polarisation. Some forces have treated our findings and recommendations with the seriousness they deserve; they have maintained good standards or made significant improvements (some following an adverse inspection report). The forces in question include Leicestershire Police,[29] Thames Valley Police[30] and West Midlands Police.[31] Some other forces – such as Gloucestershire Constabulary[32] – still haven’t treated the matter seriously enough and continue to practise unsatisfactory crime recording.

In 2020, Greater Manchester Police, a force about which we have recently raised other matters of serious concern,[33] showed a pitifully low crime recording accuracy rate of only 77.7 percent, which was appreciably below that force’s 2014 level. In other words, the force went backwards. We estimated that in 2020 over 80,100 crimes reported to Greater Manchester Police went unrecorded.[34] More recently, the force has shown a very considerable improvement in its crime recording accuracy.

Given this polarised picture, it is difficult to conceive that sufficiently consistent, sustainable improvements will be made without the inspectorate’s continued and close attention to this aspect of policing in future.

Fraud should be taken more seriously

Adults are more likely to be victims of fraud than of any other crime. The detrimental effect of fraud is as great today as it has ever been – if not greater – yet fraud indefensibly continues to be treated as a low priority. This is far from commensurate with the agony of the victims and their families. Victims of fraud can face levels of human suffering as catastrophic as those experienced by victims of many other crimes.

In a national thematic inspection report in April 2019, we observed that one force filed, with no further action, 96 percent of the cases it received from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau. Some of these cases had a good degree of evidence, including identified suspects.[35] Our report included 16 recommendations for improvements.

In our follow-up report in August 2021, we found that not enough had changed. Too many victims still receive a poor service and are denied justice. The investigation and prevention of fraud, by police forces, remain under-resourced and are not given enough priority. These thieves almost always get away with it.[36]

If the extraordinary proliferation of fraud, largely enabled by the internet, is to be brought into check in any meaningful way, those who commit fraud must realise that policymakers have decided that this corrosive and extraordinarily expensive offending will now be tackled with resources commensurate with its seriousness and prevalence. Fraud costs the UK many billions of pounds every year.[37]

For too long, police forces have placed an unjustifiable reliance on Action Fraud, the national fraud reporting centre, to solve the problem. But Action Fraud exists mainly to record fraud allegations, not investigate them. Many police forces aren’t taking their responsibilities to prevent and investigate fraud anywhere near seriously enough.

And so the suffering of many people goes on, and will continue and rise as the perpetrators continue to believe that politicians care so little.

Tackling serious and organised crime

Over the past ten years there have been major changes to the national policing landscape concerning serious and organised crime.

In 2013, the NCA was established, replacing the Serious Organised Crime Agency. So far, we have inspected the NCA nine times, with each inspection focusing on a different aspect of the NCA’s operations. We have also examined closely the network of police regional organised crime units (ROCUs), which have evolved considerably alongside the NCA.

Regional organised crime units: inconsistencies in resourcing, leadership and operation

In 2015, we found that ROCUs were structured in a variety of different ways, ranging from highly ambitious and effective cross-force collaborative units to smaller scale and less effective arrangements for deploying individual police force capabilities on a regional basis.[38] This variation in ROCU structures created a risk that, in some places, local and regional capabilities were collectively insufficient to counter serious and organised criminal threats effectively and to ensure that forces were meeting their obligations to work together under the Strategic Policing Requirement.

In February 2021, we reported that the ROCU network had made substantial progress in some respects, particularly in cyber-crime and undercover policing (which have attracted specific funding).[39] But we also reported inconsistencies throughout England and Wales in the resourcing, leadership and operation of ROCUs.

In both our 2015 and 2021 ROCU inspections, we found that the absence of long-term funding arrangements hampered ROCUs’ stability and development.

ROCUs have a major role to play in tackling serious and organised crime. We have recently modified our PEEL inspection programme to allow for further inspections of ROCUs. During our inspections, we will discuss with ROCU leaders whether the three-year funding settlement I referred to earlier is having its intended effect.

The National Crime Agency: much to be proud of but it needs more investment

Since its inception, the NCA has also played a major role in tackling serious and organised crime. By collecting information from a wide range of sources, including the police, other law enforcement bodies and other organisations, the NCA has built a detailed understanding of the threat from serious and organised crime. The NCA estimates that over 69,000 people are engaged in serious and organised crime in the United Kingdom and that between 550,000 and 850,000 people in the UK pose a risk to children.[40]

To tackle threats of this magnitude, the importance of substantial contributions by police forces, ROCUs and the NCA mustn’t be underestimated.

When we first inspected the NCA in 2015, we reported that the agency had made a strong start to the creation of a new national law enforcement agency. But we also said that significant problems were ahead. These included investing enough in the technological and analytical capabilities that are needed.[41] Our inspection report contained five recommendations and 19 areas for improvement.

In 2016, we reported that the NCA’s progress on the areas we identified for improvement in our 2015 report was resulting in a gradual improvement in the organisation’s efficiency and effectiveness.[42]

In the years that followed, we examined specific functions and units of the NCA. These included:

Considering these findings from these inspections in aggregate, it is clear that the NCA has much to be proud of. This includes the high quality of its senior leadership, the commitment and dedication of its workforce, its support for the police and its use of some sophisticated techniques and capabilities to obtain intelligence and evidence against organised criminals. The skills and sophistication of some of its technical experts are of a very high order.

But, in some important respects, the NCA hasn’t yet adequately addressed all the areas for improvement we specified in 2015.

For example, as recently as July 2021, we reported that the quality of the equipment available to surveillance officers had not kept pace with that available to ROCUs or police forces.[43] In several other respects, the standard of tools available to the NCA is well below what it should be. And yet, the NCA is dealing with some of the most unprincipled, nefarious and evil people in the UK and abroad.

The NCA has come a long way in a relatively short time. But policymakers should be under no illusion that, if it is ever to achieve its full potential, substantial investment is still required. This too is a political question of the public tolerance of threats, risks and harms.

The availability of large amounts of data about the activities of organised criminals and paedophiles, and the sophisticated instruments and methods which can be used to disrupt their activities and find and arrest the people involved, is immense. The NCA now has – and is continuing to improve – the skills and tools which could save many lives from being shattered or destroyed by crime; and they know how to find and arrest significantly more of the most dangerous people. The principal constraint is money; that is, the public’s willingness to pay for the efficient and effective assault on the worst of what people do. I question whether, fully informed, the public would say that it is acceptable for their communities to tolerate the undisturbed presence among them of predatory paedophiles, the importers and distributors of firearms and drugs, money launderers and fraudsters, and the presence and activities of those who traffic and abuse the defenceless and vulnerable. Not only do these people wreak almost unimaginable human suffering; when they have finished with their current victims, they will come after others.

Despite the NCA’s assessment[44] of the scale of the problem, it appears likely that the public do not really understand the extent and severity of criminality and the threats they face. Nor do they appreciate how much more, if law enforcement were adequately resourced, it could do to deal with it and so protect them and their communities from the extraordinary harm which will, unchecked, inevitably come to them or those close to them.

Progress made in technology

Over the past ten years, a prominent aspect of change in policing has been the continued progress made in technology. We live more and more of our lives online. We rely on mobile telephones, tablets, laptops and other digital devices for everyday activities.

In many respects, our lives are of course enriched by this progress in technology. But it has been accompanied by the advancement of sophisticated tools used by those who would do us harm. Computer hackers and fraudsters represent a serious threat to civil society and public safety. Social media trolls, online stalkers, predatory paedophiles and those who distribute intimate material for so-called revenge porn can blight the lives of their victims; some people are driven to end their lives. And organised crime groups and terrorists exploit technology to extremes of efficiency and iniquity.

In some respects, the police have struggled – and continue to struggle – to keep up with the demands which the digital world places on them.

As I said in State of Policing 2017: “The raw power of the worldwide web can be an agency of fear as well as freedom. Technology enhances much of our daily lives. It also intensifies severe threats to the most vulnerable people in society, including children.”[45] Online offenders can very easily reach distant and vulnerable victims. Most children are now more at risk in their own bedrooms than they are on the streets.

This type of offending is not just about child sexual abuse and fraud, but radicalisation, harassment, stalking and many other forms of online crime.

Backlogs and delays in examining digital devices

In 2015, we found alarming backlogs and delays in the extraction and analysis of evidence from digital devices.[46] An increasing number of investigations require digital evidence. These devices often belong to victims, who are already traumatised; loss of access to their devices, while the police have them in a queue awaiting examination, intensifies victims’ distress.

In 2016, we found that forces had taken steps to shorten the time taken to examine digital devices, but just over 16,000 devices were still awaiting examination.[47] By mid-2017, this number had been reduced by 17 percent, but it still represented almost 13,400 devices.[48]

In 2020, we reported that all forces had a prioritisation system in place when it came to examining devices and returning them to victims. But most victims of crime will have to wait while their device is in a queue. In the best performing forces, this queue may be a few months long. In the poorest performing force, it could take 18 months. We found that seven forces needed to improve their ability to retrieve digital information to reduce delays in these investigations. In a further three forces, the backlogs were so bad that we issued these forces with causes of concern. [49] [50] More encouragingly, the police recently introduced new measures for device examination, including a commitment to deny victims their devices for the irreducible minimum of time.[51]

Artificial intelligence

As digital devices have become more powerful and complex, their data storage capacity has increased exponentially. An average mobile telephone may contain many thousands of text-based files and images and hours of video.

In 2017, I commented on the considerable problems this creates for the police and the CPS, who must examine such material and – where required – disclose it to the defence in criminal proceedings. The disclosure rules are a vital part of the operation of a safe, secure and effective criminal justice system. There have been many notable examples of collapsed trials due to failures to disclose material that would weaken the prosecution case or strengthen the defence. In 2017, I said it was essential that the police establish and bring into operation the most efficient and effective systems for rapidly interrogating and analysing digital devices, so these vast quantities of data can be properly and quickly assessed.[52] The same is true now.

The solution lies in the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to automate the examination of digital devices. It isn’t realistic to expect officers or police staff always to do it manually. As long as the police persist in using 20th-century methods to try to cope with 21st-century technology and ways of life, they will continue to fall further and further behind. Police leaders and politicians need urgently to make bold decisions to invest in this technology, if the police are to have any chance of efficient and timely obtaining of essential evidence in the 21st century. Failure to do so is indefensible.

Such technology, if efficiently used, also has the potential to achieve very significant improvements not only in the detection of reported crime, but in finding hidden crimes (such as unidentified frauds and online child sex offenders), and designing out opportunities for criminality by understanding when, how and why people commit crime, especially the worst. As I said in State of Policing 2017, it is essential that the police and law enforcement catch up with and, where possible, overtake offenders in these respects.[53] At present, to far too great an extent, these failures inevitably cause material levels of avoidable human suffering. This must be reversed as soon as possible.

In specifying and procuring such highly advanced technology, the commercial sophistication and acuity of some police leaders is in need of considerable enhancement. The private sector is not generally a force to be feared. Rather, most advisers and providers are not so short-sighted and unwise as to cheat customers they may perceive to be naïve. What is needed is a material intensification of a partnership with the private sector that is soundly and enduringly based on trust and common interest. That common objective is the provision of the most effective weapons the police can acquire and use against those who do us all nothing but harm.

Investments in technology

In other respects, the police’s adoption of new and less sophisticated technology has been more encouraging.

In a 2012 inspection of six police forces, we found that none had provided its officers with the mobile computing technology that would enable them to electronically file a witness statement from anywhere other than a police station.[54] This severely hampered their efficiency.

In the years that followed, forces invested heavily in mobile computing technology. Generally, officers can now do far more outside police station walls than they could a few years ago. This has led to appreciable improvements in police efficiency.

Similarly, facilities such as body-worn video have become almost ubiquitous in policing. Often, footage from these devices contains important evidence. It helps to protect officers and those with whom they come into contact. For example, in our inspection of the policing of the Clapham Common vigil held for Sarah Everard in March 2021 (for more information on our inspection, see Part 2 of State of Policing 2020), the examination and analysis of body-worn video presented a true picture of the disorder, and the commendable restraint shown by police officers. This entirely contradicted the false assertions of police violence on that occasion.

In the future, the introduction, maintenance, networking, renewal and upgrading of technology in policing will require very significant investment. In the interest of efficiency, much of it should be made on a national rather than local basis.

However, there are difficult lessons to be learned in relation to two major national police-related technology programmes: the National Law Enforcement Data Programme and the Emergency Services Network (ESN). In State of Policing 2020, I said that significant delays and cost overruns, and failures in specification and procurement, have put the efficiency and effectiveness of the police, and others, at material risk.[55] This remains the case.

National Law Enforcement Data Programme

The National Law Enforcement Data Programme is intended to replace the Police National Computer (PNC) and the Police National Database (PND), both of which are approaching the ends of their lives. The PNC has been in use since the 1970s and is extraordinarily outdated.

In its December 2021 report, the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee said that a replacement for the PNC wasn’t expected to be available until at least 2025–26 – more than five years later than the original implementation date of 2020, while total costs have increased by 68 percent to £1.1 billion. The Home Office now plans to upgrade or replace the PND by a separate programme, but it is unclear when this will happen and at what cost.[56]

The Emergency Services Network

The ESN is intended to replace the Airwave mobile radio communication service, which has been used by the police and other emergency services in Great Britain since the early 2000s.

The original target dates for switching off Airwave and switching on the ESN are well overdue. In the meantime, the police service continues to contend with outdated technology that limits its effectiveness.

When major projects such as these lag so far behind, they have a materially adverse effect on public safety. In these cases, it is hard to understand how these programmes have failed so badly.

Police funding

For the 2021/22 fiscal year, the Government allocated the police up to £15.8 billion. This included £400 million to continue the recruitment of 20,000 extra officers through the police uplift programme, which I discuss later.[57]

The level of government funding for policing is set at spending reviews (during which the Government determines how it will fund public services over several years), while the detail is established annually. The majority of public funding for police forces in England and Wales is provided by the Home Office and is authorised by Parliament on an annual basis.

Allocations to individual forces are based on a funding formula that, during my tenure, has been a persistent problem. Police and crime commissioners in England and Wales, and their mayoral equivalents,[58] receive funding from several sources. The lion’s share is from the Home Office, and the secondary source is raised locally in the policing precept. Relatively small amounts come from the policing of sporting fixtures and other sources.

An overhaul of the formula is long overdue. In 2015 [59]and 2018 [60], the National Audit Office examined the financial sustainability of police forces. On both occasions, it raised substantial concerns, with the latter report describing the funding arrangements as “ineffective and detached from the changing nature of policing”.[61]

A substantial part of the problem is a wide variation from force to force in the ratio of central government funding to local government funding. Throughout England and Wales, the police precept element of council tax accounts for approximately 34 percent of the police’s funding. But the differences in percentage between forces can be stark. This difference is evident when making a comparison between Cleveland Police and Surrey Police. Cleveland Police is responsible for policing a relatively deprived area with a weak council tax base; approximately 28 percent of its funding comes from council tax. At the other end of the spectrum, Surrey Police is responsible for policing a relatively affluent area with a strong council tax base; approximately 55 percent of its funding comes from council tax.

Cleveland Police is therefore much more reliant than Surrey Police on central government funding. This means that, in the event of centrally applied budget reductions (particularly any that may be applied on an equal percentage basis to each police force), Cleveland Police would face a proportionally greater budget reduction. This would hurt the people of Cleveland far more than the people of Surrey, particularly when taking into account the chronic societal and criminal problems in Cleveland.

Cleveland Police will, however, benefit from a proportionally greater budget increase. This is a result of general increases in central government funding for 2022/23, which is explained in the Home Office’s Provisional Police Grant Report (England and Wales) 2022/23.

Importantly, the Ministerial statement that accompanied this report confirmed total central government grant funding for police forces for the next three years, with increases of £550 million in 2022/23, at least £650 million in 2023/24 and £800 million in 2024/25. This statement was very welcome in two respects. First, it gives police leaders greater certainty over funding, which offers them more freedom to commit to longer-term reform and investment. Secondly, the considerable year-on-year increases should assure the completion and sustainability of the 20,000 officer uplift programme.

Nevertheless, the underlying concerns with the funding formula still need to be solved.

Special grants

In their policing and budget plans, forces should include reasonable contingencies for unexpected events. Even so, there may be exceptional events that could threaten a force’s financial stability. In these cases, police and crime commissioners can apply to the Home Office for special grant funding. However, the special grant arrangements have become a sticking plaster solution to help certain forces cope with the deficiencies and unfairness of the funding system.

The low funding base for some smaller forces in particular means that they consistently struggle to provide as effective a service as better-funded forces. There is only so much they can do with the resources at their disposal. While awaiting the outcome of a national review of the police funding formula, they rely on special grant funding to support what should be mainstream business. This can never be a permanent solution.

The extra 20,000 officers

In October 2019, the Home Office announced an uplift programme with more funding for the police. This involved plans, in addition to those recruited to replace leavers, to increase police officer numbers by 20,000 over the following three years. In purely numerical terms, the effect of the uplift programme will broadly be to reverse a reduction in police numbers since 2010.

As I said in State of Policing 2019, the police service will be able to meet more of the demands it faces. In every sense, these benefits are very welcome.

But it isn’t easy for the police to implement the uplift programme; recruitment on this scale is a major undertaking. In this respect, the police’s efforts and achievements deserve credit.

Between October 2019 and September 2021, the police received 166,615 applications. By the end of September 2021, forces had recruited an additional 11,053 officers and appreciably improved diversity. Of these, more than four in ten new recruits were female and more than one in ten (who stated their ethnicity) identified as belonging to a Black, Asian, or another minority ethnic group.[62]

While these increases in numbers and diversity should be applauded, it isn’t certain that the police will meet the programme’s objective of completing the 20,000 uplift by March 2023. And the service’s ability to retain its new recruits, particularly those from minority ethnic backgrounds, remains to be seen. As welcome as it is, the uplift programme won’t immediately solve one of policing’s most persistent problems: a chronic shortage of experienced detectives.[63] Many more detectives are needed to deal with the most serious crimes, such as child abuse, sexual offences, robberies, stabbings and, of course, homicide. They are also needed to deal with professional standards and corruption. This problem will take a very long time to be solved. In the interim, with the replacement of experienced officers with recruits, the police will have a significantly higher proportion of new and inexperienced officers.

The sheer magnitude and speed of the police uplift programme inevitably carries risks. There is a heightened danger that people unsuited to policing may get through and be recruited. On occasion, police recruitment vetting processes identify applicants’ connections with organised crime groups that try to infiltrate the police. In too many cases, the system fails. This can have catastrophic consequences.

There is also a risk of recruiting officers who hold views that are generally incompatible with the office of constable, such as extremist and racist attitudes. When unsuitable applicants lie on their application forms, conceal their social media activity, or play down their criminal connections, the quality of vetting needs to be consistently high. Moreover, when probationary constables misbehave, the police should be assiduous in tackling that conduct and removing those who are, or are likely to be, unsuitable. Senior officers need to take this problem very seriously indeed and ensure that forces’ professional standards departments are properly resourced with some of the best detectives.

College of Policing standards

The College of Policing is almost ten years old, and has made considerable progress towards the achievement of its statutory and other objectives. Chief constables must remember that there are not 43 best ways of doing the same thing, and that the standards established by the College deserve universal acceptance and adoption. The College’s standards are and will remain material factors in the final determinations which the inspectors of constabulary make about the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces.

Single-system operation

The network code is an all-service collaboration agreement which, when adopted, will have the effect of dissolving the barriers which have prevented policing and law enforcement from operating as a true single system, in the public interest. The fragile architecture of the 43-force model, devised in 1962 and implemented in 1974, is very far from fit for purpose in the 2020s.

By pooling their respective sovereignties in this way, policing and law enforcement will create not only the conditions for consistent, stable, efficient and effective policing decisions, but also their reality.

As I explained in State of Policing 2020, the removal of complexity and the establishment of reliability and certainty of decision-making in the things which need to be harmonised or standardised is overdue. The network code – more fully explained in my earlier State of Policing reports and so not repeated here – is the means by which policing and law enforcement will retain the necessary protections and means of influencing and controlling regional and national decisions, while attaining the stability and predictability they have never had.

There are two alternatives. The first is to carry on with the present fragile structure which is prone to partial and unpredictable collapse; that is not sustainable. The second is the Home Secretary’s use of reserve powers under section 53A of the Police Act 1996. I believe policing and law enforcement should prefer their own mechanism with appropriate checks and balances, to political and external administrative impositions.

The inspectorate – its jurisdiction, independence and standards


The jurisdiction of the inspectorate is considerable. Its remit is to inspect and report on the efficiency and effectiveness of the police and other law enforcement bodies. With the exception of the investigation of complaints or misconduct allegations against individual officers or groups of officers, it covers everything the police do. That principal remit has not changed in any appreciable way since the first inspectors of constabulary were established in 1856.

The inspectorate is not a regulator. Regulators have hard power: the power of intervention, direction and enforcement. Apart from our powers to obtain information for the purposes of inspection, we have no regulatory powers. Our power is soft power, which should not be confused with weak power. Soft power is the power of reasoned persuasion, the power to create the conditions in which those in our jurisdiction will be persuaded – not compelled – to change in ways we may recommend. We do this through the power of our voice, a voice of compelling reason and authority. It is for others, principally chief constables but also police and crime commissioners, mayors and the Home Office, to decide whether our judgments and recommendations should be carried into effect. If not, they must tell the public why.

However much policymakers may be impatient with police, the inspectorate should never become the regulator of the police. Regulators have the power to impose their will, to substitute their own decisions for the decisions of those under their jurisdictions. If we were the regulators of the police, we would become the chief constables of England and Wales, and the operational independence of individual chief constables would end. It is because policing is unique – the obligation to protect and the power to search and take away the property and the liberty of the citizen – that it must remain in the operationally independent hands of the chief. These powers must no more be in the hands of an inspectorate than in the hands of a politician. Such is the model of other countries, whose police are feared by the community and who act as instruments of malign political regimes. We have never been there, and we should never go.


In many respects, the inspectorate is materially different from the inspectorate of 2012. The quality of its processes, its rigid adherence to objective evidence-based inspections, the thoroughness of its analysis, the fairness and consistency of its judgments, the clarity of its reports and public statements: all have improved significantly. The quality of the inspectorate’s staff is probably the highest it has ever been. These things are necessary for the enhanced and continued authority, and therefore the effectiveness, of the inspectorate.

That authority and effectiveness depends on conspicuous objectivity and independence. The inspectors of constabulary have no political criteria in their statutory mandates. Having regard to political considerations beyond those established by Parliament – few and indirect – would render our judgments unlawful and severely damage our authority. The moment an independent public authority is seen to bend to undue political pressure, its independence is lost. Whatever its legal independence, confidence in its behavioural independence will have been undermined, and with that its authority. The authority of the inspectors of constabulary should never be compromised.

The most effective defence of the independence of any authority is the confidence of the public, and those within its jurisdiction, in the importance and quality of what it does. In the case of the inspectorate, that requires conspicuously high-quality analysis and judgments, and conclusions and recommendations which command respect. We will always maintain an unbroken bright line beginning with evidence, through analysis, judgments, and moderation where necessary, to conclusions, recommendations and published reasons. Throughout the past ten years, we have committed ourselves to open processes which police forces, policing institutions, policymakers and others can easily observe and understand. We have promised and ensured consistency of decision-making, in discharge of our obligations to treat everyone fairly. And in our published strategy, we are committed to explaining not only the intended effects of our decisions but also the reasons for them. It is in this way that we promote improvements in policing to make everyone safer.

Standards of inspectorate operations

Over the past ten years, we have devoted considerable resources and attention to developing the inspectorate’s capability and effectiveness. This has resulted in many significant improvements in the processes we use for the continuous monitoring of forces’ performance, and the conspicuous evidence of advances where they have occurred.

Our processes, designed to ensure the best inspection evidence is obtained and thoroughly analysed and evaluated, are described in detail in Inspection of the Performance of Home Office Police Forces. That document also explains how we ensure consistency and therefore fairness in our judgments.

We routinely monitor progress against the recommendations we make. Our monitoring portal is a live database that includes information on the causes of concern and recommendations we have issued to police forces since January 2013. It shows the progress forces have made against them, reflecting their good work, but also shows the areas they need to address. It is available to chief constables and police and crime commissioners.

For the general public, we publish information on progress against the recommendations we made to them in our Integrated PEEL Assessments. This information shows that many forces have implemented our recommendations.

If a force isn’t effectively managing, mitigating or eradicating a published cause of concern, we may give it extra attention. In such cases, we help forces to develop an improvement plan. In urgent cases, we publish inspection reports as accelerated causes of concern, so that the public know where serious problems have arisen and can hold their police and crime commissioner or mayor to account as they discharge their statutory obligations to secure the efficiency and effectiveness of the force.

We have made extensive evaluation and research processes part of our inspections. We use the evidence they generate to improve our inspection methods. For example, in 2019 we commissioned a comprehensive, independent evaluation of our national child protection inspections. We identified what worked well and used the report’s recommendations to inform our inspection methodology.

We conducted research with forces, other users of our inspection findings and our own staff to inform the design of our most recent round of PEEL inspections. We learned that many users found that our PEEL reports weren’t as accessible as we would like. We designed shorter, more succinct reports. These new reports have an increased focus on what improvements forces need to make, and they establish the respects in which forces are effective and efficient.

We are evaluating how we conduct our PEEL inspections and are making improvements as a result. We will use the evaluation process to establish which of our activities are most effective at promoting improvements in policing.

In short, we have refined and will continue to improve what we do, to ensure we provide the police service and the public with the best we can do.

The future of the inspectorate

I conclude these remarks – in this annual report, the last of my tenure – with consideration of the future of the inspectorate.

I am sometimes asked what is the principal necessary quality of an independent public authority, facing entities within its jurisdiction with greater resources and a great deal at stake, and in a political and administrative environment where short-term imperatives and political considerations may sometimes rise to dominate affairs. The short answer is courage.

I have written of the essential need for conspicuous objectivity and the consistent production of high-quality work. Also necessary is vigilance in relation to the steps which may be attempted by others to constrain and direct the public authority in ways or directions which it should not adopt or take. In recent years, independent economic regulators have become subject to increasing degrees of ministerial guidance and control. This has been done by Parliament, but at the instance of the executive, and perhaps without much attention from those who ought to care. Ministerial and official encroachments can have the same gradual and silent effects on independent jurisdictions.

The inspectorate’s independence is as precious to the public and the police service as it is to the inspectors of constabulary. Politicians and officials should also recognise its value, and in doing so protect it.


[1] In our inspection reports and other published documents, we often refer to ‘victims’ of crime. In very many cases, the people in question are victims and offences have been committed against them, and the position is clear. However, and depending on context, it must be understood that when we use this term in relation to circumstances where it has not been established that an offence has been committed, or who is the person against whom an offence was committed, we are referring to the person who (a) says he or she is the person against whom that offence was or may be committed; or (b) is said or considered by another person to be the person against whom that offence was or may be committed. In using the term ‘victim’, there is no suggestion that the fundamental criminal justice principle of the presumption of innocence of a suspect or accused person is being disregarded.

[2] Dissertation on First Principles of Government, Thomas Paine, 1795.

[3] A joint thematic inspection of the criminal justice journey for individuals with mental health needs and disorders, Criminal Justice Joint Inspection, Care Quality Commission and Healthcare Wales Arolygiaeth Gofal lechyd Cymru, November 2021, p10. Available at: 

[4] As before, page 7.

[5]Annual Report of the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, Sir Kenneth Newman QPM, 1986.

[6] Fewer than one in six victims of rape or assault by penetration report the crime to the police. See:

[7] State of Policing 2018: The Annual Assessment of Policing in England and Wales, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, 4 July 2019, page 13. Available at: /publications/state-of-policing-the-annual-assessment-of-policing-in-england-and-wales-2018/

[8] Impact of the pandemic on the Criminal Justice System, Criminal Justice Joint Inspection, 19 January 2021, page 5. Available at: /publications/impact-of-the-pandemic-on-the-criminal-justice-system/

[9] Source: National statistics Criminal court statistics quarterly: April to June 2021, Ministry of Justice, 30 September 2021. Available at:

[10] Magistrates’ Courts given more power to tackle backlog, Ministry of Justice, HM Courts & Tribunals Service, and the Rt Hon Dominic Raab, 18 January 2022. Available at:

[11] Reducing the backlog in criminal courts, National Audit Office, 22 October 2021, HC 732, page 7. Available at:

[12] The Future of Legal Aid: Third Report of Session 2021–22, House of Commons Justice Committee, HC 70, 27 July 2021. Available at:

[13] IOPC recommendations to tackle Met culture after investigation uncovers bullying and harassment in the ranks, Independent Office for Police Conduct, 1 February 2022. Available at:

[14] Police workforce, England and Wales: 30 September 2021, Home Office, 26 January 2022. Available at:

[15] Population estimates for the UK, England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland: mid-2020, Office for National Statistics, 25 June 2021. Available at:

[16] In 2020, because of the pressures faced by forces during the pandemic, we suspended the requirement for forces to provide FMSs and instead asked them to send us their FMSs by the end of May 2021.

[17] Sources: HMICFRS’s force level 999/101 call data and Home Office data on crime outcomes in England and Wales year to June 2021.

[18] Crime outcomes in England and Wales 2014 to 2015, Home Office, 16 July 2015 page 8. Available at:

[19] Crime outcomes in England and Wales 2020 to 2021, Official Statistics, Home Office, 22 July 2021. Available at:

[20] In harm’s way: The role of the police in keeping children safe, HMIC, July 2015, page 10. Available at:

[21] National Child Protection Inspections 2019 thematic report, 27 February 2020, HMICFRS, page 1. Available at: /publications/national-child-protection-inspections-2019-thematic-report/

[22] Two reports: Interim report: Inspection into how effectively the police engage with women and girls, HMICFRS, 7 July 2021; and Police response to violence against women and girls: Final inspection report, HMICFRS, 17 September 2021. Both available at: /publications/police-response-to-violence-against-women-and-girls/

[23] Police response to violence against women and girls: Final inspection report, HMICFRS, 17 September 2021, page 1. Available at: /publications/police-response-to-violence-against-women-and-girls/

[24] Perceptions of personal safety and experiences of harassment, Great Britain: 2 to 27 June 2021, Office for National Statistics, 24 August 2021. Available at:

[25] For example: domestic violence protection orders; domestic violence protection notices; stalking protection orders.

[26] Police chief appointed to tackle violence against women and girls, NPCC, 15 September 2021. Available at:

[27] Crime-recording: making the victim count, HMIC, November 2014, page 18. Available at:

[28] State of Policing: The Annual Assessment of Policing in England and Wales 2019, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, July 2020, page 146. Available at: /wp-content/uploads/state-of-policing-2019-double-page.pdf (PDF document)

[29] Leicestershire Police: Crime Data Integrity re-inspection 2018, HMICFRS, 15 January 2019. Available at:

[30] Thames Valley Police: Crime Data Integrity re-inspection 2019, HMICFRS, 25 July 2019. Available at: /publications/thames-valley-crime-data-integrity-re-inspection-2019/

[31] West Midlands Police: Crime Data Integrity re-inspection 2018, HMICFRS, 15 January 2019. Available at:

[32] PEEL 2021/22: Police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy: An inspection
of Gloucestershire Constabulary
. HMICFRS, 27 October 2021. Available at: /peel-assessments/peel-assessments-2021-22/gloucestershire/

[33] PEEL: Greater Manchester Police cause of concern – Responding to vulnerable people, HMICFRS, 30 September 2021. Available at: /publications/greater-manchester-police-cause-of-concern-responding-to-vulnerable-people/

[34] Greater Manchester Police: An inspection of the service provided to victims of crime by Greater Manchester Police, HMICFRS, 10 December 2020, page 4. Available at: /publications/an-inspection-of-the-service-provided-to-victims-crime-by-greater-manchester-police/

[35] Fraud: Time to choose, HMICFRS, 2 April 2019, page 5. Available at: /publications/an-inspection-of-the-police-response-to-fraud/

[36]Spotlight report: A review of Fraud: Time to Choose, HMICFRS, 5 August 2021, page 1. Available at: /publications/a-review-of-fraud-time-to-choose/

[37] Fraud: The threat from fraud, National Economic Crime Centre (NECC). Available at: The NECC’s supporting agencies are the National Crime Agency, the Serious Fraud Office, the Financial Conduct Authority, the City of London Police, HM Revenue & Customs, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Home Office.

[38] Regional Organised Crime Units A review of capability and effectiveness, HMIC, 1 December 2015, page 5. Available at: /publications/regional-organised-crime-units/

[39] Regional Organised Crime Units An inspection of the effectiveness of the Regional Organised Crime Units, HMICFRS, 11 February 2021, page 1. Available at: /our-work/article/regional-organised-crime-units-2/.

[40] National Strategic Assessment of Serious and Organised Crime 2021, National Crime Agency, 25 May 2021, page 8. Available at:

[41] An inspection of the National Crime Agency, HMIC, March 2015, page 14. Available at: /publications/an-inspection-of-the-national-crime-agency/

[42] An inspection of the National Crime Agency’s progress against outstanding recommendations made by HMIC and areas for improvement, HMIC, 21 July 2016, page 9. Available at: /publications/national-crime-agency-a-progress-report/

[43] An inspection of the National Crime Agency’s crime reduction (investigating offences relating to organised crime) function, HMICFRS, 13 July 2021, page 17. Available at: /publications/inspection-of-national-crime-agencys-crime-reduction-function/

[44] National Strategic Assessment of Serious and Organised Crime 2021, National Crime Agency, 25 May 2021. Available at:

[45] State of Policing: The Annual Assessment of Policing in England and Wales 2017, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, 12 June 2018, page 31. Available at: /publications/state-of-policing-the-annual-assessment-of-policing-in-england-and-wales-2017/

[46] PEEL: Police effectiveness 2015 A national overview, HMIC, 18 February 2016, page 4. Available at: /publications/police-effectiveness-2015/

[47] PEEL: Police effectiveness 2016 A national overview, HMIC, 2 March 2017, page 15. Available at: /publications/peel-police-effectiveness-2016/

[48] PEEL: Police effectiveness 2017 A national overview, HMICFRS, 22 March 2018, page 59. Available at: /publications/peel-police-effectiveness-2017/

[49] If our inspections identify a serious or critical shortcoming in a force’s practice, policy or performance, it will be reported as a cause of concern. A cause of concern will always be accompanied by one or more recommendations. When we identify causes of concern during our inspections, we normally provide details in the subsequent force report.

[50] PEEL spotlight report Diverging under pressure, HMICFRS, 7 February 2020, page 13. Available at: /publications/peel-spotlight-report-overview-of-themes-2018-19/.

[51] Police update notice for permission to search for relevant information on digital devices, NPCC, 16 September 2021. Available at:

[52] State of Policing: The Annual Assessment of Policing in England and Wales 2017, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, 12 June 2018, page 24. Available at: /publications/state-of-policing-the-annual-assessment-of-policing-in-england-and-wales-2017/.

[53] As before, page 33.

[54] Taking time for crime: A study of how police officers prevent crime in the field, HMIC, 2012, page 13. Available at: /media/taking-time-for-crime.pdf (PDF document).

[55] State of Policing 2020: The Annual Assessment of Policing in England and Wales, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, 21 July 2021, page 34. Available at: /publications/state-of-policing-the-annual-assessment-of-policing-in-england-and-wales-2020/.

[56] The National Law Enforcement Data Programme Twenty-Ninth Report of Session 2021–22, House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts, HC 638, 8 December 2021, page 3. Available at:

[57] Police to receive more than £15 billion to fight crime and recruit more officers, Home Office, 17 December 2020. Available at:

[58] For forces such as for Greater Manchester Police, the Metropolitan Police Service, West Yorkshire Police, and the City of London Police.

[59] Financial sustainability of police forces in England and Wales, National Audit Office, 4 June 2015, HC 78. Available at: (PDF document).

[60] Financial sustainability of police forces in England and Wales 2018, National Audit Office, HC 1501, 11 September 2018. Available at: (PDF document).

[61] As before, page 11.

[62] Police officer uplift, England and Wales, quarterly update to 30 September 2021, Home Office, 27 October 2021. Available at:

[63] PEEL spotlight report A system under pressure, HMICFRS, 2 May 2019, page 13. Available at: /publications/peel-spotlight-report-a-system-under-pressure/

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State of Policing – The Annual Assessment of Policing in England and Wales 2021