State of Policing: The Annual Assessment of Policing in England and Wales 2022

Published on: 9 June 2023


I was honoured to be appointed HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary in April 2022. Having been a police officer for 36 years and an Inspector of Constabulary for 2, I am privileged to lead His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services.

This is my first annual report to the Secretary of State under section 54(4A) of the Police Act 1996. It contains my assessment of the effectiveness and efficiency of police forces in England and Wales, based on the inspections we carried out between 1 December 2021 and 31 March 2023.

To help form my assessment, I wrote to chief constables, police and crime commissioners and other interested parties to seek their views on the state of policing in England and Wales. I extend my thanks to everyone who replied and offered their thought-provoking insights. I would also like to thank my colleagues at His Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate, His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation, His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons and all the other public bodies we frequently work with. Finally, I express my profound gratitude to all inspectorate staff for their significant contributions to my assessment and for everything they do to support our inspections.

Changes at the inspectorate

On 31 March 2022, Sir Thomas Winsor’s term as HM Chief Inspector came to an end. Over the past ten years, the inspectorate under his leadership has made major contributions to promoting improvements in policing. I applaud Sir Tom’s achievements and thank him for his distinguished public service.

We have welcomed two assistant HM Inspectors on secondment. On 17 October 2022, Nicola Faulconbridge joined on a 12-month secondment from Kent Police. Nicola brings with her extensive and highly valuable police command experience. On 15 May 2023, Shantha Dickinson joined on a six-month secondment from Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire & Rescue Service. Shantha brings a wealth of experience from the fire and rescue sector and is supporting our fire and rescue inspections as well as our wider work. I extend a warm welcome to both.

On 30 June 2023, HM Inspector Matt Parr will leave the inspectorate after nearly six years’ distinguished service. As the lead for many of our inspections, Matt has made significant contributions towards promoting improvements in policing and fire and rescue services. His dedicated public service has been outstanding and he will be greatly missed at the inspectorate. I wish him every success in the future.

In August 2023, I will be welcoming two new HM Inspectors: Michelle Skeer QPM, currently the Chief Constable of Cumbria Constabulary, and Lee Freeman KPM, currently the Chief Constable of Humberside Police. Both will bring a wealth of valuable experience. They will be warmly welcomed, and I greatly look forward to working with them.

Andy Cooke QPM DL

His Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary


The police are a fundamental part of our society. They are there to keep us safe: safe on the streets, safe in our homes and safe online. When things go wrong, the police are often our first and only point of contact. In many cases, they are our service of last resort.

As an officer, I saw first-hand the professional, compassionate and courageous acts the police carry out on a daily basis and the positive difference they make to our communities. After more than three decades in public service, I am under no illusion about the enormous pressures which frontline officers and staff are operating under. Nor do I doubt their dedication.

However, the police are experiencing one of their biggest crises in living memory. I can’t recall a time when the relationship between the police and the public was more strained than it is now. The public’s trust and confidence are unacceptably low. The fundamental principle of policing by consent, upon which the service is built, is at risk.

Significant reductions in trust and confidence have been recorded. The perceived legitimacy of the police is central to the public’s willingness to co-operate with them and abide by the law. This drop in trust and confidence can make it harder for decent and honest police officers and staff, who comprise the vast majority of the service, to do their jobs. These conditions make it less attractive for people to stay in the service, let alone join it in the first place. Understandably, a substantial proportion of police officers don’t believe they are respected by the public.

There are some obvious and truly atrocious reasons for the decline in public trust and confidence. In 2021, a serving police officer abducted, raped and murdered Sarah Everard. In 2022, another serving police officer admitted to carrying out 85 sexual offences, including a shocking number of rapes. Staggeringly, in both cases, warning signs over several years were missed, and the officers managed to keep their jobs as police constables until they were finally brought to justice.

Unfortunately, I could cite many more examples from throughout England and Wales. Rarely does a day go by without another story of a disgraced police officer reaching the headlines.

I can readily understand why it would be easy for the public, Parliament and the press to jump to the conclusion that the police service is full of bad people or that it can’t be trusted. Perception is equally as important as reality.

But the truth is far more complicated. The police service is a complex system operating within an even more complex criminal justice system (CJS), and there are widespread systemic failings in both. Some of these account for the present state of policing. In broad terms, these are:

  • The police aren’t always focusing on the issues that matter most to the public, and charge rates are far too low.
  • The police and the wider CJS aren’t getting the basics right, as shown through the withdrawal from neighbourhood policing.
  • Some critical elements of the police’s leadership and workforce arrangements need substantial reform.

But the service isn’t broken beyond repair. Undeniably, these failings will be extremely challenging to resolve. But they won’t be fixed solely by issuing glossy strategies, mission statements, visions, concordats or the like. They will be fixed through action.

The police need to focus on doing what matters most to benefit the communities they serve; these actions need to be highly visible. Not only do they need to show that they are committed to taking action today, tomorrow and next week but also that they will act in the long term too.

The police aren’t always focusing on the issues that matter the most to the public

The police are facing rising demand from the public and, quite simply, they aren’t keeping up. At best, people can be left dissatisfied; at worst, people can be left at risk. To a great extent, I empathise with the police; they have to contend with many factors beyond their control. They are operating with limited resources and are working within a CJS that is increasingly strained and inefficient.

However, these factors, even when combined, don’t sufficiently account for the marked decline in public confidence and satisfaction in policing; there are other powerful factors at play. The police should better target their resources, such as officers, staff and technology, at the issues that matter most to the public. Although some forces are better at this than others, a system-wide improvement is needed. And there needs to be greater clarity over what the police’s role in society is. For too long, they have strayed into doing the work of other services and not just at times of crisis when immediate intervention is needed.

Public perception and victim experience of the police

Victims are increasingly less satisfied with the way they are treated by the police and the wider CJS. In the 2021 Victim survey, the Victims’ Commissioner found that fewer than half of respondents felt the police had treated them fairly and respectfully. Many felt that the police hadn’t taken their reports seriously or taken enough action. Only 43 percent of respondents said, on the basis of their previous experiences of the CJS, they would report a crime again. It is deeply concerning that so many victims feel let down by the people who are meant to protect them and help bring offenders to justice.

Since 2014, charge rates have decreased by two-thirds, and the proportion of outcomes assigned an out-of-court disposal has more than halved. This isn’t to say that fewer crimes are being committed but that fewer criminals are being caught.

Figure 1: Offences brought to justice rate by offence type between the year ending 31 March 2015 and year ending 31 March 2022

Between the year ending 31 March 2015 and the year ending 31 March 2022, offences brought to justice rates have declined for every main crime type. Overall, these changes highlight poor performance in forces throughout England and Wales, especially for violence against the person offences. These offences showed the largest decrease in the offences brought to justice rate (27 percentage points over an eight year period). Over this period, the offences brought to justice rate for all victim based crimes decreased from 22.7 percent to 8.3 percent (14.4 percentage points).Between the year ending 31 March 2015 and the year ending 31 March 2022, offences brought to justice rates have declined for every main crime type. Overall, these changes highlight poor performance in forces throughout England and Wales, especially for violence against the person offences. These offences showed the largest decrease in the offences brought to justice rate (27 percentage points over an eight year period). Over this period, the offences brought to justice rate for all victim based crimes decreased from 22.7 percent to 8.3 percent (14.4 percentage points).

Source: Police recorded crime and outcomes open data tables, Home Office

Note: Offences brought to justice include those charged, out-of-court formal and informal outcomes and where prosecutions have been prevented or aren’t in the public interest.

Our police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy (PEEL) inspections include a victim service assessment. This assessment considers a victim’s experience from the initial point of contact with the police, throughout the whole police response and investigative process, to the point when the case of a reported crime is closed. On too many occasions, our victim service assessments find that forces don’t always give victims an adequate level of service. For example, forces don’t always:

In an average year, most people have little or nothing to do with the police. In its statistical bulletin Crime in England and Wales, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates that, in the year ending September 2022, 16.8 percent of adults experienced a crime. This figure includes those people who directly experienced a crime or who lived with someone who had been a victim of a crime. Not all these crimes are reported to the police. This low rate of contact makes the police’s reputation and the public’s perception of them even more important.

Regrettably, the public is less and less likely to perceive that the police are doing a good job. A poll conducted by YouGov showed that in March 2023, less than half of the public thought the police were doing a good job. This has fallen from 75 percent three years ago. The police are edging towards a tipping point where the balance of sentiment towards them is turning distinctly negative.

Figure 2: Proportion of the public who think the police are doing a good or bad job from July 2019 to March 2023

Between July 2019 and March 2023, the proportion of the public who think the police are doing a good job decreased from 70 percent to 47 percent. This is a decrease of 23 percentage points. Over the same period, the proportion of the public who think the police are doing a bad job increased by 19 percentage points, from 25 percent to 44 percent.

Source: Are the police doing a good job?, YouGov

Policing must, and must be seen to, counter the negative narrative, and chief constables must convince the public that they are focused on what matters to communities. The police must counter the perception of them being ineffective when it comes to dealing with day-to-day criminality.

The police must uphold the law as it is written. They aren’t there to champion social change or take sides. This includes a requirement to preserve all rights, including the right to free speech. I welcome the commitment from the Home Secretary to introduce legislation which, unless certain criteria are met, prevents the police from becoming involved in non-crime hate incidents. The police don’t have to like or support the thoughts or mindsets of all those who they protect, but they must protect them regardless.

The police must exercise their duties impartially. As we said in our 2021 report Getting the balance right? An inspection of how effectively the police deal with protests:

“On balance, we believe that police leaders should think very carefully before they take any actions which may be interpreted as showing support for, or aversion towards, any protest or its stated aims; it will rarely be appropriate.”

Factors affecting police performance

A range of factors affect the police and their efficiency and effectiveness. On many occasions, the police have little control over these factors, but on many occasions, they do. The following three factors have a material effect on how well officers and staff can do their jobs. They include:

  • the demands placed on the police, both in terms of their volume and complexity;
  • the resources at their disposal; and
  • a CJS that is still dysfunctional and defective.

Crime is going down, yet demand is on the rise

England and Wales are arguably safer than they have ever been. The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) shows a long-term reduction in all crime, excluding fraud and computer misuse, since the mid-1990s. Many factors have influenced this reduction, such as improvements in vehicle and home security. But the police deserve some of the credit. For many years, they have made significant efforts to prevent crime and bring criminals to justice.

Figure 3: CSEW crime estimates, excluding fraud and computer misuse, from year ending 31 December 1981 to year ending 30 September 2022

Between the year ending December 1995 and the year ending September 2022, overall levels of crime excluding fraud and computer misuse have fallen continually. Rises in crime levels during the 1990s were mainly due to increases in violence, vehicle crime and burglary.

Source: Crime in England and Wales: year ending September 2022, ONS

Note: In March 2020, face-to-face interviewing was suspended as a result of COVID-19, which led to a break in the CSEW time series.

Despite this overall reduction in crime, the police continue to face a long-term trend of rising demand: the public is calling more and more on the police. In the year ending 31 March 2022, police forces in England and Wales recorded more than 14 million incidents. Indeed, the police are recording more crime than ever. In the year ending 30 September 2022, the police recorded 6.6 million crimes (including fraud and computer misuse). This represents an increase of 14 percent from the previous year and the highest number of police-recorded crimes since these records began in 2003.

The reasons behind this rising demand are complex and not fully understood. It is partly due to the changing nature of crime. Fraud and computer misuse have become significant and prevalent forms of crime that often cut across police force boundaries. In many instances, this rise has been caused by activity carried out by serious and organised crime groups. In the year ending September 2022, the CSEW estimates that there were 3.7 million fraud offences and 690,000 computer misuse offences. This represents nearly 50 percent of all crime. Only 345,880 of those offences were actually recorded by Action Fraud and even fewer of those were investigated by the police. But it does represent an area of increasing demand for the police, and it isn’t a problem they will be able to tackle alone.

It also appears to be partly due to a greater willingness for the public to report certain crimes and a greater public expectation that the police will take these seriously. As a society, we increasingly call on the police to tackle the kinds of crimes that have always existed but often went unaddressed. These crimes include domestic abuse and violence against women and girls. In the year ending 30 June 2022, the number of police-recorded rape and other sexual offences increased by 21 percent from the year ending 31 March 2020. These figures don’t provide a reliable measure of trends in these types of crime, but they do illustrate the scale of crime-related demand on the police. Encouragingly, they show an increased willingness of many victims to come forward.

However, it is worth noting that the increased willingness of members of the public to report matters to the police has, on some occasions, led to them reporting matters unrelated to crime. For example, most chief constables who responded to my request for their views on the state of policing echoed findings from some of our inspection reports. They said that many officers spend far too much time dealing with incidents related to mental ill health. These incidents are, on many occasions, a matter for other safety-critical essential services to deal with and aren’t for policing. However, police forces don’t always do everything they can to help themselves reduce unnecessary or repeat demand.

Many of the chief constables who wrote to me commented on the rising complexity of the offences investigated by their officers. They make a valid point. A helpful way to illustrate this is through a measure called the Crime Severity Score. The ONS produces this as an experimental statistic. Since 2013, the score has risen by 6.6 points, which represents an increase of 70 percent. While some complex crimes don’t always result in lengthy sentences, crimes with a higher severity score generally take more time to investigate.

Figure 4: Crime severity score across all forces in England and Wales from year ending 31 March 2013 to year ending 31 March 2022

Between the year ending 31 March 2013 and the year ending 31 March 2022, the crime severity score for all forces in England and Wales increased from 9.3 to 15.9. This is an increase of 6.6. There was a slight decrease between the years ending March 2019 and March 2021. But the score has since started to rise again.

Source: Crime Severity Score data set, ONS

Another cause relates to crime recording. Although the situation is far from perfect, over the past ten years the police’s crime-recording practices have improved somewhat. While I welcome this improvement in crime recording, there is a trade-off to be explored. There is no doubt of the importance of accurately and correctly recording crimes. But the processes to record these crimes need to be sensible, measured and focused on outcomes for the victim.

We have seen that the administrative burden of compliance with the Home Office Counting Rules is substantial. For example, there are 148 pages solely concerned with the recording of fraud offences. The rules give the necessary detail to make sure forces record crime accurately, but the details are far too complex. As a result, forces need to spend considerable time and effort making sure they fully comply with the rules when recording crimes. This is time which could be spent on prevention, neighbourhood policing and being proactive. I welcome the interim changes introduced to the Home Office Counting Rules and look forward to their full review. I hope that, without adversely affecting victims, it will remove any unnecessary bureaucracy inherent in the current rules.


Policing has consistently struggled to make a compelling case for funding. In the evidence from their force management statements, many forces have shown they don’t have enough funding to do nearly as much as the public would like them to. The quality of these statements varies considerably. The police need to get better at specifying the demands they face, which services they will and won’t provide to the public, their relative levels of priority and what they will cost. Doing so would substantially strengthen any argument the police may make for enhanced funding and increased numbers of officers and staff. It would also better equip the police to have open discussions with members of the public, manage their expectations and maintain their confidence.

The Police Uplift Programme, which was intended to recruit an additional 20,000 police officers and extra members of police staff during the three years to 31 March 2023, has now finished. Overall, the police have achieved the target. Provisional data from the Home Office shows that 20,951 officers were recruited as part of the uplift programme. It also shows that the number of police staff and designated officers has increased. I welcome the Government’s investment in the police and its recognition of the crucial role that the police play in keeping our communities safe.

However, since 2010 and throughout the years of austerity, successive governments have let police numbers decline. While many would argue it was an essential step to manage public finances, it led to the police being chronically short of officers and staff for more than a decade. If the Government finds itself in a similar position in the future, it should carefully consider the ramifications of reducing and then replacing police numbers. An important lesson to be learned from this exercise is that an abrupt, stop‑start approach to police funding isn’t in the public interest.

It hasn’t been easy to increase police numbers so rapidly. And it certainly has come with risks. To recruit the extra 20,000 officers while replacing leavers, the police have had to recruit more than 46,000 additional officers. The resources required to recruit, train and supervise so many junior officers are substantial.

The sheer scale of recruitment has created a heightened risk that people unsuited to policing may join the service. In our 2022 report An inspection of vetting, misconduct and misogyny in the police service, we found examples of forces granting vetting clearances to substantial numbers of unsuitable applicants. Some of these vetting decisions may have been influenced by pressures on forces to meet certain recruitment targets.

In policing, it is important to maintain an experienced workforce. But during the austerity years, forces had to reduce the number of experienced officers and staff at an alarming rate, meaning that many new recruits didn’t receive adequate supervision. As a result, there is currently an increasingly inexperienced workforce. According to a press release from the National Audit Office, by 2024, 38 percent of all police officers will have fewer than five years’ service. There are some benefits to a young-in-service workforce, such as the fresh perspective new officers and staff can bring that can help the police to innovate. But the correct balance must be maintained, and there needs to be an appropriate degree of supervision and guidance.

Supervisors, such as sergeants and inspectors, play a vital role in setting standards and making sure their officers’ work is of a high quality. In our report PEEL 2021/22 – An inspection of the Metropolitan Police, we found that “inexperienced staff with limited practical experience were being managed by similarly inexperienced supervisors”.

However, the uplift programme has brought some benefits including increased workforce diversity – something the service has struggled with for years. More than four in ten officers recruited through the uplift programme are women, and more than one in ten identify as belonging to a Black, Asian or another ethnic minority group. I applaud the increase in diversity in recruitment, but the service still has much to do, particularly when it comes to retention rates for certain groups.

From our inspections of forces and their force management statements, we know that a difficult financial environment lies ahead for many. This is despite the benefits brought by the uplift programme; many forces have been struggling with inflation and only partially-funded pay awards. The Home Office has also informed forces that they must maintain their officer numbers. I am concerned this objective of maintaining numbers is creating an arbitrary target that will increase inefficiency. Many chief constables who wrote to me said that this is causing them to cut down on the number of police staff members they employ. This means that more officers are performing tasks that can and should be carried out by police staff – something referred to as ‘reverse civilianisation’.

Police staff are often specialists who fulfil vital roles for forces – roles which are frequently not best suited to police officers. This includes areas where special education or training is required, such as data science, analysis and digital forensics. The police staff in these and other similar areas are on the frontline of the fight against crime. No arbitrary target should prevent chief constables from having the right people in their forces.

Officers should mainly be working in roles where their warranted powers are required. But reverse civilianisation means that some police staff roles must either be fulfilled by police officers or dissolved and the work that still needs to be done spread out among police officers. Either option creates inefficiencies because police officers are generally paid more than police staff at their equivalent grades as a result of the warranted powers they hold.

Chief constables should assure themselves and the inspectorate that their workforce mix of officers and staff is achieving the best value for money as well as supporting their policing priorities and the communities they serve.

The system for police funding isn’t fit for purpose

The system used to allocate police funding isn’t fit for purpose and hasn’t been for some time. In its October 2022 report Does funding follow need? An analysis of the geographic distribution of public spending in England, the Institute for Fiscal Studies acknowledged that the current funding system for the police, and those for some other public services, don’t properly reflect differences in needs and aren’t set up to tackle inequalities.

Police forces receive their funding from two main sources: central government grant funding and the police precept element of local council tax. The central government grant is calculated using a funding formula. This formula was developed in the early 2000s and is well out of date. It no longer reflects the demand on the police. In 2015, the Government announced a review of the funding formula, but no substantial changes were ever introduced. Eight years later, the Government has once again committed to reviewing the funding formula and has said the review will be concluded by the end of this Parliament. I welcome this commitment because it is time to get on with it.

The way in which the central grant funding is calculated has led to bigger cuts in police budgets for those forces in more deprived areas. These areas rely more heavily on central grant funding than the local council tax precept. If grant funding continues to increase by less than inflation, as is currently the case, the police will need to rely mainly on increases in the council tax precept to meet rising costs. This reliance on council tax is widening the gap between forces. As areas with lower-cost housing can’t raise as much from council tax, their funding will decrease even more.

The Government has committed to having a new funding formula in place by the end of this Parliament. In developing a new formula, it has said it will consider the demands facing each police force and the relative effect that local factors may have on the resources needed to meet that demand.

But it is important to note that there will be both winners and losers. In October 2021, in a parliamentary debate, the then-Minister for Crime and Policing said: “I would warn everybody that all cannot have prizes.” Creating fair funding, which follows need, will involve removing funding from some better-funded forces. This will be politically difficult, and it will require courage from the Government. But it is the right thing to do to make sure forces receive the funding they need to keep communities safe.

The CJS is still dysfunctional and defective

The police operate as part of a wider CJS, which includes the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), courts, prisons and the Probation Service. For several years, we have been saying that the CJS is dysfunctional and defective. Unfortunately, that is still the case. Its woeful state significantly hampers the police’s efficiency and effectiveness.

The decision whether or not to charge a suspect is sometimes made by the CPS. The CPS has also had to make savings and has limited resources both to make these decisions and, more importantly, to prosecute the cases that follow. Policing leaders say they can’t always get charging advice from the CPS when they need it. This includes them not being able to get charging advice while a suspect is in custody unless they are requesting that the suspect is kept in custody following the charge.

This has created such frustration that three chief constables took the unusual step of jointly writing an opinion piece in a national newspaper. They said: “The austerity-hit CPS can’t cope and people aren’t getting justice. We, the police, want the power to fix that.” They proposed that, except in the most serious cases, the police should be able to make the decision on whether to charge.

I recognise their frustration, and there are clear problems that must be addressed. But, perhaps lost in the annals of time, there are good reasons why the CPS assumed responsibility for charging in certain cases. They are covered in the July 2002 White Paper Justice for All. Before I can become supportive of the three chief constables’ proposals, I would wish to see further evidence and a significant improvement in the quality of case files that the police provide to the CPS. We will examine these case files more closely in a forthcoming joint inspection with His Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate. As part of that inspection, we will also examine the effectiveness of a new charging model. This model, initially tested in Merseyside, Cheshire and Wales, is being implemented more widely.

It has become significantly more time consuming to prepare a case file for court. On 31 December 2020, the Director’s Guidance on Charging (sixth edition) and the Attorney General’s Guidelines on Disclosure came into effect. These documents apply to all criminal investigations and prosecutions. They introduced significant changes for the police and the CPS. The director’s guidance on charging is intended to make sure that the police give prosecutors the right information and material to make immediate charging decisions on cases referred to the CPS. And the guidance is also intended to make sure that cases can progress through the court system efficiently and effectively.

In our 2022 spotlight report The police response to burglary, robbery and other acquisitive crime, we found evidence that the changes brought about by both guidance documents were putting additional pressure on investigators and supervisors. This is because the guidance places greater requirements on the police to produce material at an early stage, rather than when the case is already in the court system. This includes cases where the suspect admits the offence: officers must present a comprehensive file of evidence to the CPS for use in the prosecution. Preparing the evidence in even the simplest of cases, such as viewing CCTV and body-worn video evidence, can take several hours. One force told us that, on average, an additional seven hours are needed to build each case file. Based on their average CPS monthly submission rate of 180 case files, this equates to an additional 1,260 hours per month in that force alone.

A large backlog of cases is waiting to be dealt with at court. According to the Court statistics for England and Wales, in October 2022 the backlog of cases in the Crown Court reached 62,475 – the highest ever recorded number. Ministry of Justice figures show that for the period from July to September 2022, the average Crown Court case involving a not-guilty plea took 410 days from the case being received by the court to the completion of the trial. It is no wonder that victims and witnesses often end up feeling deeply disillusioned. In too many cases, victims lose confidence in the CJS and withdraw from the process entirely.

Beyond the court system, both the prison system and the Probation Service aren’t in a much better position. These are matters of significant concern. We intend to examine these matters in more detail in future inspections by working with the other criminal justice inspectorates. It may now be the right time for the Government to establish the Royal Commission for the Criminal Justice System that it pledged in its 2019 Conservative Party manifesto. If anything, the arguments in its favour are stronger now than they were then.

The role of the police needs to be more tightly defined

To some extent, the role of the police has become confused. This is leading to them making decisions about the use of resources in ways that are inconsistent with community expectations. If I were to ask a chief constable, a police and crime commissioner (PCC), a political leader and a member of the public what the role of a police officer is, I would almost certainly receive four slightly different answers.

There is broad consensus that the police’s primary purposes are to maintain peace and to prevent and detect crime. However, societal changes in recent years have seen them take on added tasks that could, and should, be done by other services. These extra tasks have been taken on without enough public consultation.

The police must, through an open and honest discussion with the public, definitively establish their role in society. Their role always has, and always will, go beyond strictly fighting crime. For example, when someone goes missing from home, the police certainly have a role when it comes to making enquiries into the well-being and whereabouts of the missing person. But the dividing line between what does and doesn’t constitute ‘police work’ should be much clearer. Police leaders, acting together and working closely with the Government, then have a responsibility to take a firmer stance on what the police will and won’t do. The present situation can’t continue. It is coming at the expense of core policing roles, leading to inconsistencies in the service. The result is that each force tackles crime in a slightly different way and that, overall, the police are catching fewer criminals.

In blunt terms, too much police time is still being spent performing the work of other public services. This is because many public services are under financial pressure and can’t meet their own demand. The police frequently find themselves as the service of last resort and attend incidents that they shouldn’t. They attend as a result of a combination of the can-do attitude held by many officers and staff and risk aversion that is driven by a fear of either complaints or a crisis point being reached. If the police are to concentrate on their core functions, other public services will need to increasingly pull their weight. This will allow the police to focus on the challenges that they alone have the powers and skills to tackle and for which they have a democratic mandate.

Attending mental health-related non-crime incidents is a perfect example of such work that isn’t suited to policing. I wouldn’t expect a mental health professional to investigate a crime. Equally, I wouldn’t expect a police officer to treat someone’s mental illness. The police should attend mental health-related incidents in cases where there is a risk of immediate and significant harm, a crime has been committed or police powers are required. In any other scenario, the police aren’t adequately trained and have other things to spend their limited and valuable time on. Despite this, the number of mental health-related incidents attended by the police has been steadily rising over the last few years.

Figure 5: Number of mental health incidents forces in England and Wales dealt with from year ending 30 June 2019 to year ending 31 March 2022

Between the years ending 30 June 2019 and 31 March 2022, the number of mental health incidents forces deal with per year has increased from 482,000 to 598,000. This is an increase of 116,000 incidents.

Source: PEEL data collection, HMICFRS

Usually, these aren’t quick incidents to deal with. Gloucestershire Constabulary told us that, in the year ending 30 June 2022, officers spent 21,872 hours dealing with mental health incidents. Officers and staff from Hertfordshire Constabulary told us that, on one day in 2022, 17 of their officers couldn’t attend other incidents because they were caring for people detained under the Mental Health Act 1983.

In May 2020, Humberside Police introduced its ‘Right Care Right Person’ scheme. The force negotiated with local mental health and health organisations to establish an agreement on which organisation should attend incidents relating to mental ill health. As a result, vulnerable people, with mental ill health needs are now receiving the help they need from the initial point of contact. And the force told us that, as a result of this agreement, their officers attend fewer such incidents, which saves 1,100 hours of officer time per month. All forces intend to introduce similar schemes; I welcome this approach.

The police need to carefully balance their priorities

Most public sector organisations operate with insufficient resources to meet all the demands they face. The difficult but essential step for the police is to make informed choices about what to prioritise.

The environment in which the police operate doesn’t make it easy for them. There are too many priorities, and these can quickly change. When there are too many priorities, or frequently changing priorities, nothing becomes a priority. Chief constables are faced with a broad range of national, regional and local priorities, which originate from many sources. To further complicate matters, what the public wants the police to do often doesn’t align with some of the risks the local population faces. Chief constables are expected to apply their operational independence and make informed judgments.

Many of the chief constables who wrote to me said that making these decisions can be extremely difficult in practice. A good example of this is fraud. It is a highly prevalent and rising type of crime that no chief constable wants to ignore. The CSEW estimates that in the year ending September 2022, 9.1 million offences affected people aged 16 years and over. Fraud accounted for an estimated 3.7 million of those offences, making up 40 percent of all crime. However, as set out in the Justice Committee’s sixth special report on Fraud and the Justice System, approximately only 2 percent of all police resources are allocated to tackling fraud. If the police allocate more resources to fraud, they will need to do less of something else.

The introduction of our force management statements has provided chief constables with an effective tool to assist with prioritisation. But in practice, prioritising the use of finite resources is still, and will always be, a delicate balancing act that requires careful judgment.

In making these difficult prioritisation decisions, there has been an increasing focus on threat, harm and risk. This has led to police officers and staff focusing a significant amount of their time on a small proportion of the population who are most vulnerable. This is both admirable and understandable; it is undeniable that substantial policing effort should be directed towards those who need it most. However, the balance of this has at times and in some forces gone too far. The police exist to serve all citizens equally, and victims who aren’t vulnerable should still receive a good level of service from the police when they need it.

Efficiency needs to be improved

In an ideal world, the police would be able to complete all the valuable work they have to do and do it to the highest possible standard. However, without obtaining additional resources, the only way they can achieve this is through increased efficiency. But, in the absence of competitive pressures commonly felt by private sector businesses, perhaps the police aren’t always as motivated as they should be when it comes to improving their efficiency. Efficiency needs to become more of a priority.

In our PEEL inspections that took place in 2021 and 2022, we assessed strategic planning, organisational management and value for money in forces. Of the 43 forces in England and Wales, we graded 5 as outstanding and 12 as good. This represents just over one-third of forces, so there is clear room for improvement. Overall, we issued 54 areas for improvement and raised 4 causes of concern in this area. In our assessments, we specifically covered how forces provided value for money and demonstrated continuous improvement, efficiency savings and improved productivity.

Time and again, we see inefficiencies stemming from the police’s reliance on outdated IT. In some cases, this is due to national infrastructure, which is beyond the control of the service. But, too often, technology within the control of the police isn’t good enough for them to carry out thorough investigations and causes significant delays. Although forces no longer receive a capital grant, throughout England and Wales we have seen forces increasingly investing in technology. For example, they have invested in mobile phone forensic analysis equipment for the preservation, extraction, analysis and reporting of digital evidence retrieved from mobile devices. It is assumed that with the advancement of technology, staff and officers would become more productive. But, in too many respects, the benefits aren’t being realised to their full potential. There is often a lack of follow-up to promote and secure the anticipated improvements. For example, despite having mobile devices that allow them to complete reports remotely, many officers still frequently return to stations to complete these reports. New systems are sometimes introduced without due consideration being given to how they will be integrated with other systems, supported by effective training or evaluated. Without such evaluation, the police won’t be able to make much-needed improvements to their efficiency.

Information and data are the cornerstones of efficiency. Yet we often find forces don’t have enough information to fully understand the demands that they face and the resources they need to tackle them. Many forces frequently lack enough information to fully understand their workforce planning requirements. As a result, they base these requirements on rough estimates rather than on a comprehensive understanding.

Irrespective of the size of each force, they all need support functions such as HR, finance and IT. In the shared provision of these and some other functions, effective inter-force collaboration can lead to improvements in efficiency. But, in too many forces, there is a lack of willingness to collaborate. We have seen previous instances of collaboration fail for a variety of reasons, often in high-profile ways. This will undoubtedly affect chief constables’ willingness to enter into them in the future.

However, we have seen the police make some improvements in respect of efficiency. For example, the service is now carrying out procurement on a national level throughout England and Wales (albeit to a modest extent). In March 2022, the Police Foundation published its report Independent Strategic Review of Policing in England and Wales. It identified the potential for significant savings to be made through economies of scale if more procurement was done nationally for uniforms, vehicles and equipment. The procurement organisation Bluelight Commercial has started to make some initial good progress in this respect, but it has a lot of work ahead of it.

The operational independence of individual chief constables is a fundamental part of the British policing model, and there are, of course, differing local contexts in each police force. I also recognise that the police operate in a changing and imperfect world. Right through the system to local neighbourhood officers, there must be the autonomy to innovate, iterate and ultimately improve. But there must be an optimal way of assembling many of the component parts of the police system. Given their tacit support for the College of Policing’s authorised professional practice, chief constables mostly accept there is one right way of doing things; some elements of operating models are no different. I, therefore, welcome the productivity review led by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), which is considering how greater productivity can be achieved in policing to provide a better level of service to the public.

Operation Soteria, a promising new, evidence-based, national model for rape investigations, is an example of an aspect of policing in which the service has agreed there is one right way to do things. In June 2023, this model is due to be introduced to all forces. In May 2023, the Home Secretary commissioned us to carry out a thematic inspection on forces’ implementation of the model. We will produce a report with our findings in due course.

Video calling has also made some aspects of policing much more efficient. I am supportive of it if it meets the needs of the victim and is proportionate to the risk. For several years, the police have been investigating many incidents without physically attending the scene. Some forces use this more effectively than others.

An example of the successful use of video calling is the Rapid Video Response (RVR) model. The RVR model was trialled by Kent Police and is now being used more widely. Officers working in the trial rapidly responded to calls by video link, rather than by attending the scene in person, in some domestic abuse cases where the suspect was no longer present. In some cases, this won’t be an adequate substitute for the attendance of a police officer in person. Nevertheless, a randomised control trial showed an increase in victim satisfaction, arrest rates and trust and confidence in the police. This seems to be because it led to officers gathering evidence quickly. Victims were also pleased with the quick response they received. RVR also presents opportunities for the police to operate more efficiently and have more time available for other victims.

Chief constables need to learn from such models and identify ways to improve efficiency in their forces. Together with the College of Policing, we are helping forces to do this. We have increased our focus on identifying and promoting positive and innovative practice in forces and will continue to do so. The College of Policing has recently launched a practice bank, which is intended to make information available about interventions that forces have used to address specific problems. I expect forces to use this support to good effect.

The police aren’t always getting the basics right

Even when the police spend their time on matters that really need their attention, they often fail to get the basics right. By the basics, I mean the things which are fundamental expectations of citizens. Among many other things, these include:

  • answering the phone;
  • attending the incident (if not suitable for RVR);
  • investigating the crime;
  • keeping the victim informed; and
  • bringing the offender to justice.

In our latest round of PEEL inspections, 30 percent of our graded judgments were inadequate or requires improvement. These are largely related to responding to the public and investigations.

In our PEEL inspections, responding to the public and investigating crime are still the worst-performing areas

As mentioned in my introduction, British policing is based on consent. There is an implicit social contract between the public and the police. It is fundamental to our democracy, and it is very simple to describe. We give the police powers over us as citizens, and we give them our precious public resources.

In exchange, we expect them to keep us safe from criminal harm and that they treat everyone with fairness, dignity and respect. The very existence of the police is contingent on them upholding their obligations to this social contract. With public approval waning, the police’s ability to function effectively has been increasingly brought into question.

This implicit social contract applies to all crimes, including those which the police refer to as ‘volume’ crimes – the crimes which tend to happen most often. This term doesn’t adequately convey the profound effect that these crimes can have on victims and the perception of safety in our communities. Many victims of these crimes are targeted more than once and repeatedly made to feel unsafe. However, these crimes aren’t always getting the attention they deserve.

As set out in the Government’s Beating crime plan, between 2010 and 2020, approximately 80 percent of indictable offences that resulted in a person being convicted or cautioned were committed by someone who had previously offended. Too often, people offend with apparent impunity, and the police aren’t targeting them consistently. Some forces target repeat offenders better than others, but the vast majority need to make serious improvements in this respect.

There is also far too much variation in the response someone may receive if they report a crime, meaning that it can be a postcode lottery for victims. In many cases, a victim in one area of England and Wales will get a vastly different response to a victim in another. This can’t be justified. In autumn 2022, I was pleased to see a renewed commitment from all chief constables to make sure that every report of house burglary would lead to an officer attending. But many other improvements are needed too. For example, in many cases, missed opportunities begin as soon as victims contact the police. This can lead to forces failing to gather vital evidence and identify offenders.

More problems occur as the cases get allocated to investigating officers, as forces struggle to cope with a chronic shortage of experienced detectives. In our report The police response to burglary, robbery and other acquisitive crime, we found cases were given to newly trained officers who had no experience in making arrests, building casefiles or attending court. As welcome as it is, the uplift programme won’t quickly solve this problem of considerable inexperience. While the workforce continues to develop and gain experience, forces need to make sure that officers receive the appropriate levels of training, guidance and supervision.

Unfortunately, in the same report, we found that in a third of all cases we examined in our PEEL inspections, there wasn’t enough evidence of good-quality and intrusive supervision of investigation plans. Supervisory updates were sometimes out of date and lacked detail and scrutiny. We recommended that forces improve crime scene management and levels of supervision to make sure that investigations are conducted effectively.

However, there are some grounds for optimism. We found some excellent problem‑solving initiatives in a number of forces. For example, in Durham Constabulary, officers worked with prominent academics to better understand a suspect’s behaviour and successfully tackled a particular spate of burglaries. We saw another example of an effective problem-solving initiative in West Yorkshire Police. The force reported significant reductions in burglary and drug offences and anti-social behaviour when it piloted the Clear, Hold, Build initiative, which targets organised crime gangs and builds on community solutions to identify and support vulnerable people. Merseyside Police has also reported positive results by using Clear, Hold, Build in its response to gun crime.

Effective neighbourhood policing is vital for prevention

It should never be forgotten that the ultimate measure of success for the police is the absence of crime and disorder and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them. This is the ninth and final Peelian principle.

Detecting crime contributes significantly to this goal by reducing the risk created by offenders and creating a deterrent effect for others in society who would commit similar crimes. And, of course, detecting crime helps bring justice for those who have been wronged. Responding when things go wrong, investigating crime and bringing offenders to justice will always be essential. Despite this, there are some problems that the police simply can’t investigate their way out of. Work to prevent crime from happening in the first place shouldn’t ever be neglected by the police.

Neighbourhood policing is the building block of policing in England and Wales. The police had to make some difficult choices during the period of austerity. It led them to stop doing, or do less of, some things they decided were ‘nice to do’ rather than essential. One of those things was neighbourhood policing. On 30 September 2010, there were 16,377 police community support officers in England and Wales. By 30 September 2022, this number had almost halved to 8,263.

Even in many of the forces that have maintained their neighbourhood policing presence, neighbourhood policing officers and staff are often the first to be diverted away from their normal roles to respond to periods of peak demand in other areas of policing. But neighbourhood policing isn’t just a nice to do. It is fundamental to the police’s relationship with the public and to preventing crime.

Furthermore, by providing an effective neighbourhood policing presence, communities get the opportunity to voice their concerns and offer their opinions about local priorities. This helps the police and partner organisations, such as local authorities, to work with the public to problem-solve and fundamentally prevent crime. It isn’t a coincidence that public confidence in the police started to decrease when some forces reduced the size of, or removed altogether, their neighbourhood policing teams.

The forces that prioritise neighbourhood policing are those more able to find and deal with the long-term problems that create repeat demand. Of course, forces should be able to use their neighbourhood staff and officers if there is an urgent operational need elsewhere. But when they are routinely and excessively diverted from their neighbourhood policing roles, problem-solving and early intervention work both suffer. Therefore, forces need to understand the effect on wider force performance and communities when they take away their neighbourhood policing resources.

Many of the underlying causes of crime can’t be addressed by the police alone. We repeatedly see people with similar social factors and needs falling into a pattern of offending at an early age. Once someone gets too far down this path, it is difficult and expensive to stop their pattern of offending. An essential step to preventing crimes from being committed in the first place is to reduce poverty and increase opportunities for all. The police can have only a limited influence on either of those factors, although we are seeing that their investment and activity in early intervention are growing stronger.

Overall, the service must view prevention as the core of all policing activity, and it must work closely with local organisations such as social services and healthcare and education bodies to solve problems early. This isn’t always easy for the police because those organisations, and others with responsibility for community safety, are also under pressure from high demand and limited resources. The Government must take the prevention agenda as seriously as enforcement and, in this respect, recognise the roles other organisations have to play.

Stop and search is an essential tool that needs to be better understood

The police’s use of their stop and search powers (in part, to prevent crime) polarises the public. For stop and search to remain a legitimate police power in the eyes of the public, it must solve more problems than it creates. In my view, stop and search is a crucial power for the police in both preventing and detecting crime, including violent crime. In its analysis of information in the Home Office Homicide Index, the ONS reported that in the year ending 31 March 2022, there were 696 homicides in England and Wales. Of these, 188 were the result of violent crime which happened on the street, a path or an alleyway. Quite rightly, the public expects the police to tackle this fundamental problem.

Well-targeted stop and search is a valuable tool in the police’s problem-solving toolbox. In its November 2022 survey on crime, policing and stop and search, Crest Advisory found a high level of support in principle from all ethnic groups for the targeted use of stop and search on specific grounds. But respondents raised concerns about how it is used in practice. A total of 86 percent of adult respondents supported the police having the right to stop and search someone if they were suspected of having a weapon on them, with 81 percent supporting the police for searching someone suspected of having Class A drugs. Of these, 77 percent of Black adults supported the police having the right to stop and search to find weapons and 71 percent to find Class A drugs.

These research findings suggest that the public doesn’t underestimate or disregard the deterrent effect that stop and search may have on those who would otherwise choose to carry, for example, deadly weapons, drugs or stolen property.

The visible representation of police officers on the streets taking action improves confidence throughout the wider community. But the benefit of stop and search in relation to its deterrent value is rarely covered in research. Its benefits in relation to deterrence, detection, prevention and as a visible sign of policing activity in local neighbourhoods need to be researched more widely for all communities. The police must also take a more consistent and effective approach to independent community-based oversight and training.

Despite it being an effective tool to tackle crime, stop and search by its very nature is intrusive. Once the police have decided they are going to search someone, how they do it is as important as the act itself. Officers must be respectful during encounters and clearly communicate to the person what they are doing and why. In each encounter, the police must make a fair and reasonable decision that meets the legal requirement for reasonable grounds. In our PEEL inspections during 2021 and 2022, we audited 8,902 stop and search records. Overall, we found that in 83.9 percent of the records we examined, the grounds recorded for the search were reasonable. Those overall figures mask considerable differences between forces.

Although there is overwhelming support for the appropriate use of stop and search, in its report, Crest Advisory states: “This support is dependent on stops being conducted fairly, effectively and proportionately.”

On a wider basis, the police must make sure that powers are being used in line with the Public sector equality duty and be able to show communities that they are using them fairly. Currently, communities have clear concerns about the fair use of stop and search. Home Office figures show that in the year ending 31 March 2022, throughout England and Wales, people identifying as Black or Black British were searched at a much higher rate than those from a White ethnic group.

It mustn’t be forgotten that there is significant disproportionality in victims of crime too. In the three years to the year ending 31 March 2022, average rates of homicide per million population were approximately four times higher for Black victims than White victims. A 2021 YouGov poll estimated that people from Black, Asian or ethnic minority communities were almost twice as likely as the wider public to know a knife crime victim or to have been one themselves. The presence of disproportionality in crime victimisation rates doesn’t adequately explain why there is disproportionality in stop and search rates. It would be easy for some to conclude that the latter is evidence of racism within the police. But any such evidence isn’t conclusive. There needs to be better evaluation and more research to measure disproportionality and the effectiveness of stop and search to fully understand how it affects certain communities and deters crime. This research could have a meaningful effect on police practice and help forces make sure that they use stop and search effectively and fairly.


By 30 September 2023, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead on stop and search, working with the College of Policing and academia, should commission further primary research to quantify the deterrent value of stop and search and the causes of disproportionality in its use.

The police don’t collect and analyse data well enough

For the police to understand what problems they need to tackle, they need to be as reliably informed as possible and have the evidence to back that up in the form of data. But, in too many respects, many forces don’t collect enough data or enough good-quality data. This prevents them from having a good enough understanding of, among many other things, problems in their communities, patterns of offending or issues affecting their workforces. Of the data they do collect, the police aren’t analysing it thoroughly enough.

This hampers police efficiency, as they struggle to establish what they need to do, what their priorities are and how much it will cost. This lack of data analysis also doesn’t help them best inform how to use their limited resources, make a case for policy change with the Home Office or make requests for funding. Their lack of understanding of their data seriously undermines police legitimacy. In too many respects, many forces don’t adequately understand whether there is disproportionality and whether they are treating people fairly.

Since 2010, we have made at least 60 recommendations on improved data collection and analysis. Collectively, they haven’t had the desired effect. This is an area in dire need of attention and is essential to police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy.

There are some examples of good uses of data. One of these is the Digital Crime Performance Pack, which makes data on force performance publicly available. It has been developed by us, the NPCC, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, the College of Policing and the National Crime Agency. It uses data and analysis to track progress against the Home Office national crime and policing measures. It is positive that it focuses on outcomes rather than processes; for too long, there has been too much focus on how the police work rather than what their actions achieve. Processes are important but only to the extent they lead to the right outcomes – be that reduced crime or people being treated with fairness and respect.

We intend to introduce a public-facing version of the Digital Crime Performance Pack on our website in the near future. Making it publicly accessible will help communities see how their forces are performing. Transparently publishing information is a fundamentally important part of holding the police to account and is intrinsic to our model of policing by consent.

Governance, leadership and workforce reform

The structure of the police system is complex. For the Home Office forces in England and Wales alone, there are 43 chief constables and 43 PCCs. It is a suitable model to ensure local accountability, but as far as collective decision-making is concerned, it has significant limitations. On too many occasions, forces aren’t making the right decisions or acting quickly enough. The Government should consider whether the existing NPCC decision-making arrangements are best serving the public. It should also consider whether we and the College of Policing have sufficient powers to influence change.

The police service needs to improve the way it identifies which officers are capable enough to become senior leaders. Equally, it should do more to support those leaders at more junior ranks and grades who, with the right professional development, may go on to become highly capable senior leaders. This lack of foresight leaves the service in a weak position to meet the major strategic challenges it faces now and in future.

Chief officers must also have a capable workforce to lead. It has become too easy for the wrong people to join the police and stay. Standards and culture must be improved. To improve standards and recruit the right applicants, the police need to attract and retain the right people. Unless that happens, there is a risk that forces may take chances and compromise on the quality of the people they recruit.

A modern governance structure for a modern service

In 2024, it will have been 50 years since the Home Office 43-force structure in England and Wales was fully implemented. It involves forces of vastly different sizes, which are based largely on county boundaries. When it was devised, much of policing was local and the internet hadn’t yet been invented. Most police work remains local in nature, and the creation of PCCs in 2012 responded to the need for local democratic accountability in the police. But the world has significantly changed in the past 50 years. Crime has changed and so has general understanding of how to efficiently and effectively run an organisation.

Since that time, the Government and the police service have made changes to try and make sure that policing and wider law enforcement can operate effectively at national, regional and local levels. In 2013, the National Crime Agency was established as the UK’s lead agency to fight serious and organised crime. There are also ten regional organised crime units throughout England and Wales, which have a range of specialist policing capabilities to fight crime that is especially complex or crosses borders. There is also Action Fraud and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, which are both run by the City of London Police.

However, if a structure for policing in England and Wales was being designed today, it probably wouldn’t lead to 43 forces being established. And there would be greater consistency, co-ordination and collective decision-making between individual forces and at regional and national levels. But changing the current structure now wouldn’t necessarily lead to improved efficiency and effectiveness, and it would shift attention away from the important matters that policing needs to address. No matter how the police service is configured, boundary lines will always be on a map. For those reasons, I support keeping the current structure. But there needs to be greater central governance to secure the consistency and effectiveness of critical regional and national arrangements.

In many respects, our system of police governance and accountability is one of the best in the world. But there are undoubtedly areas where it could be strengthened.

The relationship between chief constables and PCCs

Chief constables and PCCs are equal partners in maintaining community safety, and they each have a distinctive and different role. In some instances, they are unsure of or ignore the boundaries between their roles, to the detriment of policing.

PCCs have a significant role to play in improving community safety more widely than just policing. But that role isn’t to lead their police force, which is the remit of the chief constable. Both parties need clarity about their relative responsibilities.

The Government is currently updating the Policing Protocol Order 2011 to better define the relationship between chief constables and PCCs. I urge the Government to publish an updated version as soon as possible.

National decision-making

Nationally, chief constables work together through the NPCC. The number of police forces we have is largely irrelevant, provided that chief constables work together in a way that makes for an efficient and effective service.

Unfortunately, they don’t always do so. The NPCC is a fragile arrangement that relies on voluntary agreements being made between chief constables and, often, PCCs. The absence of a more formal mechanism to make collective, binding, national decisions is detrimental to the public and a major omission in the fabric of the police service.

Chief constables sometimes fail to reach timely national decisions because a few of them don’t agree. The individual reasoning of those who don’t agree may be perfectly sound; for example, they may believe that the decision wouldn’t suit the circumstances in their own force. But collectively, this argument doesn’t carry merit. Chief constables should make decisions that will benefit the public as a whole, and they shouldn’t stand in the way of progress because of the situation in their local areas.

Even when chief constables do come to unanimous agreements, some material weaknesses persist. The first is the need in some cases for the consent and co‑operation of all relevant PCCs. The second is that any force, at any time, can withdraw its agreement.

If the Government wants to keep the Home Office 43-force model and retain chief constables’ operational independence, which I fully support, it needs to bolster the model with additional arrangements. These should support chief constables and PCCs in making sensible, legally binding, collective decisions that act in the service’s interest, not the parochial interests of individual chief constables or PCCs. What any individual chief or PCC would give up in independence would be far outweighed by what they would receive in return: major improvements in police efficiency and effectiveness and a service more fit for the contemporary challenges it faces.

National support

The lack of formal means to support individual forces also hampers the efficiency and effectiveness of some forces.

There are currently six forces in our ‘engage’ process of enhanced monitoring, but it lacks a legal footing. I take no pleasure in being the Chief Inspector of Constabulary who has placed more forces than ever before into this process; these are complex decisions to make, and I consider each of them carefully.

It was pleasing to see Greater Manchester Police return to the ‘scan’ phase of our monitoring approach; the force’s leadership had become stronger at every level. The force didn’t do this alone; it received oversight from the mayor and full support from the sector.

Not all forces have received such support when placed into our engage process. For example, in 2019 we gave Cleveland Police several inadequate grades and the force entered the engage process. At that time, it received little support from the NPCC or the rest of the sector. It wasn’t possible to put senior people in position in the force, and it took far too long to get a new command team in place. The force would have started making improvements much more quickly if the appropriate support had been in place.

The Government should consider formalising the support offered by the NPCC and College of Policing to forces that are failing to perform to an acceptable standard. The Chief Inspector of Constabulary should be empowered to make sure that forces within the engage process receive the required resources and skills to assist the chief constable in addressing the causes of concern we have issued. This could include creating powers to direct the NPCC and the College of Policing to provide the necessary support in a timely and effective manner.

The importance of independent inspections

We inspect and report on the effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy of police forces in the public interest. For the past 166 years, our independent inspections of the police service have formed a fundamental part of the model of policing by consent.

Our overarching purpose is to promote improvements. This is because members of the public want the police to succeed in their duties to keep them safe from crime, spend public money wisely and treat people with fairness and respect. We ask the questions that we believe the public wishes to have answered. We use our expertise to interpret the evidence and publish our findings, conclusions and recommendations.

Many other safety-critical, monopoly, essential public services have a regulator. The police service doesn’t. We don’t have the power to enforce the recommendations we make; we rely on forces voluntarily acting upon them. Most of the time, forces do so because we have developed a good reputation and an authoritative voice over many years.

There is also an existing legislative provision, within section 55 of the Police Act 1996, which is designed to make sure that chief constables act on our recommendations. PCCs are obliged to respond to our inspection reports and the recommendations we make within 56 days. However, the power of our voice and existing legislation have sometimes proved to be insufficient.

On too many occasions, forces have either failed to act or not acted quickly enough to address our recommendations. A pertinent example is that since 2016, we have made a considerable number of recommendations to address police officers abusing their position for a sexual purpose. But, in too many respects, many forces haven’t taken enough meaningful action. There are only so many times we can say the same thing in different words.

To keep the public safe, the Government should introduce additional legislation to make sure we can inspect everything we need to, that chief constables and others to whom we make recommendations take swift and effective action and that PCCs hold chief constables to account.

In the last few years, there has been an increase in the number of policing services, such as victim and witness services, provided by some PCCs on behalf of, or in co‑ordination with, chief constables. We should be able to inspect these services to assess whether the public is receiving a high-quality service.

Through section 37 of the Policing and Crime Act 2017, Parliament amended the remit of the Inspectors of Constabulary to inspect PCC staff if, or to the extent that, they are employed to assist the police force. The explanatory notes for the act stated that those provisions were intended to provide inspectors with the power to carry out end-to-end inspections of the police, including the inspection of contractors and third parties who carry out policing functions.

However, in practice, the scope of this remit is a little unclear. There is no case law on the legislation, and I don’t wish to enter into any form of legal proceedings with PCCs with whom we have strong relationships and work closely. It would be helpful for Parliament to further clarify the remit of all Inspectors of Constabulary to establish the extent to which they can carry out end-to-end inspections of policing functions.

The Chief Inspector of Constabulary should have the ability to give directions in relation to a police force in certain, limited, circumstances. Under the Police Act 1996, the Home Secretary already holds significant powers to give directions in relation to police forces and was granted these powers for good reason.

As recently as 2019, the Home Secretary had to step in and give a direction when a collaboration agreement between West Mercia Police and Warwickshire Police failed. The forces couldn’t reach an agreement on how to bring their alliance to an end. This led to the Home Secretary reaching the conclusion that the public would be placed at risk if the forces terminated their agreement without an agreed transition plan in place. As such, the Home Secretary mandated the forces to work with one another for an additional six months while they agreed terms.

However, there have been many more recent occasions where police forces have failed to discharge their functions in an effective manner and, as a result, have placed the public at significant risk of harm. A direction could have potentially rectified the situation in a more timely fashion, keeping the public safe and saving public money.

I both understand and agree with the reasons why a direction wasn’t given. The Home Secretary rarely exercises these powers because we have a long history of a police service that is free from political interference. This should always continue, but forces shouldn’t be allowed to fail. As Chief Inspector of Constabulary, I am independent of the Government, and I am best informed about the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces. I believe, therefore, that I am best placed to make sure the police are keeping the public safe.

A direction would be reserved for exceptional circumstances. In most cases, we would continue to rely upon our reports and recommendations. Consequently, it also makes sense to strengthen the impact of the recommendations we make.

We regularly make recommendations to organisations other than police forces who have an influence on policing or public safety more generally. But under the Police Act 1996, only PCCs are obliged to respond to our reports. In contrast, under proposals included in the Victims and Prisoners Bill, which is currently being read in Parliament, many more organisations would have to respond to recommendations issued by the Victims’ Commissioner. Making a similar provision in relation to our recommendations would make sure that we can affect system-wide change.

Another way our recommendations could be strengthened is by amending the obligation placed on PCCs to comment on our reports. Currently, the obligation only applies once, within 56 days of publication. In that short timescale, police forces have frequently not yet made any changes or changes are in their infancy. This means that the obligation has proved insufficient at making sure PCCs are holding chief constables to account for implementing improvements. This could be easily rectified by requiring PCCs to comment at least annually or more frequently as deemed reasonable in the particular circumstances.

The following additional legislation would lead to improvements in police efficiency and effectiveness:

  • The remit of His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services to inspect police and crime commissioner staff who are ‘employed to assist the police force’, contained within the Police Act 1996, should be further clarified. It should make clearer that ‘assisting’ includes situations where a police and crime commissioner provides or commissions or assists a chief constable in providing or commissioning a policing function, such as victim and witness services. It should also define what is meant by policing functions.
  • The Chief Inspector of Constabulary should be provided with a power to give directions in relation to a police force in cases where an inspection identifies a failing that poses a significant risk to public safety.
  • The Chief Inspector of Constabulary should be provided with a power to give directions to the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the College of Policing, in limited circumstances, relating to the support of a force in our engage process.
  • There should be a requirement for additional departments and agencies to respond to recommendations made to them by the Inspectors of Constabulary.
  • There should be a requirement for local policing bodies to provide follow-up comments at an interval specified in writing by the Inspectors of Constabulary. If not specified, it should be at least annually on all recommendations that pertain to them and their local police force and which the Inspectors of Constabulary haven’t yet confirmed in writing to have been sufficiently addressed.


By 31 December 2023, the Home Secretary should review the present limitations in the legislation concerning the Inspectors of Constabulary and establish whether measures to resolve them should be introduced to Parliament.

Selecting and supporting the right leaders

Communities deserve the highest standards of police leadership. Of significant concern to us are the low number of applicants for chief officer roles and an unwillingness by many to move forces. Chief officers’ salaries are set under the Police Regulations 2003, taking into consideration the size and population of their force. However, some of the tougher policing roles aren’t always relative to the size of the force, and PCCs can’t offer much in the way of financial incentives to attract more applicants for the role.

In 2012, with the introduction of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, the requirement for a chief constable to have served at chief officer level in more than one force was removed, as was the role of the Chief Inspector of Constabulary to recommend suitable candidates for promotion from assistant chief constable to chief constable. With the benefit of hindsight, both changes were significant mistakes that need correcting.

There is a small number of competent chiefs who have only served in one force and have no experience of policing in other areas. Yet the understanding of other operating environments is surely beneficial and promotes movement throughout policing in England and Wales, which is to the benefit of the service.

The Inspectors of Constabulary, through their continuous assessment of forces, have far more extensive, independent knowledge and insight of both the quality of the force and its senior people than anyone else. There should be a requirement for PCCs to consult the Chief Inspector of Constabulary before the appointment or reappointment of a chief constable, commissioner or deputy commissioner. The chief inspector should provide the Home Secretary with their assessment of the suitability of the process and candidate before the appointment takes place.

A similar requirement should be imposed on chief constables and commissioners to consult an Inspector of Constabulary before the appointment or reappointment of other chief officers. An Inspector of Constabulary should, likewise, provide an assessment of the suitability of the process and candidate to the PCC.

Officers and staff wanting to become chief officers have previously had to attend a strategic command course (SCC), run by the College of Policing. This course ran for three months and much of it was residential. Officers had to pass a three-day assessment to obtain a place on the SCC. In a review of the SCC process, the College of Policing found that some senior officers chose not to try to progress to the rank of chief officer due to concerns about the assessment centre and the length of the SCC.

As a result of the review, the College of Policing is changing the way it develops senior officers to become chief officers. It is replacing the SCC with a leadership programme comprised of short residential courses, day events, remote learning and experiential learning in role. This is supported by continual assessment. The programme is expected to start in June 2023.

These changes appear encouraging. As part of our leadership inspection, we will evaluate whether they encourage the talented senior leaders who may have previously ruled themselves out to apply to become chief officers.

People often reflexively equate leadership within the police service with chief officers. However, academic research and our inspection findings have repeatedly shown the importance of frontline leaders at supervisory or middle management level, such as sergeants, inspectors and their police staff equivalents. They play a vital role in setting standards and making sure their officers’ work is of a high quality. The College of Policing has identified leadership expectations for those at these levels.

The College of Policing has also developed a National Centre for Police Leadership, which is intended to provide additional development support for current and future leaders. It is designed to set standards for all levels of leadership and provide guidance, tools and resources to support everyone working in policing. I welcome this commitment to improving standards of leadership.

Police forces and the College of Policing must make sure that they are giving all leaders, including police staff, the support, training and tools they need to be successful in their roles. We will be reporting on leadership for each force during our next round of PEEL inspections. Our findings will be informed by the leadership expectations developed by the College of Policing.


By 31 December 2023, the Home Secretary should re-establish the involvement of the Inspectors of Constabulary in the selection and appointment of police chief officers and determine whether legislative changes should be introduced to Parliament.

Standards and culture must improve

I must, of course, talk about standards and culture. The vast majority of police officers and staff meet and often exceed the standards of behaviour which the public has a right to expect. They act with selflessness and fairness, honesty and integrity and many more admirable qualities.

However, given the widely publicised and horrific acts of some police officers, there has quite rightly been major public concern about the standards which some police officers uphold and the culture in forces.

Following the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving police officer, the then-Home Secretary commissioned us to inspect the police’s vetting and counter-corruption arrangements, with a particular focus on the ability of each force to detect and deal with misogynistic and predatory behaviour. In November 2022, we published our Inspection of vetting, misconduct and misogyny in the police service report. We found that, in many cases, the police were failing to get the very basics right in respect of standards and culture. Some police forces had repeatedly failed to implement previous recommendations that were designed to prevent police officers from abusing their position for a sexual purpose. This lack of action meant it had become too easy for the wrong people to join the police and the wrong people to stay in the police.

We issued 43 recommendations: an unusually high number for one of our reports. The police service must act on these. The failure of forces to take seriously and implement previous recommendations, both from us and other organisations, means they haven’t made these much-needed improvements and are still missing the mark when it comes to getting the fundamentals right.

At the request of the Home Secretary, we recently carried out an urgent review of forces’ progress against these recommendations. We found that, to varying degrees, forces could assure us that they were acting on our recommendations. However, some responses weren’t detailed enough, and a few forces appeared to have either downplayed or overstated their progress in some areas.

Several of these recommendations were for the College of Policing, working with the NPCC, to amend the authorised professional practice for vetting. We are satisfied that the College of Policing and NPCC are working towards addressing these recommendations.

Discipline is a critical prerequisite for high standards. Over the past decade, to some extent, the police service has lost its discipline. In most forces, gone are the days of immaculately polished boots, ties or cravats and custodian helmets. The uplift programme has led to the creation of a much younger workforce who come from a different generation and may have different expectations over standards of appearance.

But first impressions are important. If the police want to be seen as professional, they need to look professional. Forces should make sure the right standards of appearance, as well as behaviour, are maintained. Too often, supervisors don’t challenge these poor standards, and this gives the impression that the force finds these acceptable. If they can’t get the standards of their appearance right, it raises wider questions about their standards. These extend to standards in many important aspects of policing, such as investigations, victim care, integrity, courtesy and professionalism.

Dismissing corrupt and incompetent officers

In our Inspection of vetting, misconduct and misogyny in the police service report, many of our recommendations relate to the strengthening of vetting standards. The consequence of their implementation will be that forces review and withdraw the vetting clearance of more serving officers. This means they won’t be able to do their jobs. There aren’t many, if any, other occupations where, if you can’t do your job, you aren’t dismissed. There is currently no defined process within the police regulations to deal with officers in these circumstances. This is new territory for the police service.

Taking its first steps into this territory, the Metropolitan Police Service is introducing a process whereby serving officers whose vetting clearance has been withdrawn will face proceedings for gross incompetence, at which they are liable to dismissal. The College of Policing has recently carried out a consultation on a draft vetting code of practice, which would provide explicit and strong direction to chief officers on this issue. The draft states that if an individual can’t hold the required vetting clearance and can’t be given an alternative role, they will be dismissed. I cautiously welcome this approach and will monitor the results with great interest.

The police do have some tools to dismiss those people who are unsuitable to be police officers, but they don’t always use these tools effectively. The quality of misconduct investigations needs to improve. In our inspection of vetting, misconduct and misogyny in the police service, we found shortcomings in almost 20 percent of the investigations we reviewed.

Regulation 13 of the Police Regulations 2003 makes a provision for the police to discharge an officer during their probationary period if they aren’t likely to become an “efficient or well-conducted officer”. Between 31 March 2020 and 31 March 2022, the number of student officers discharged by forces using Regulation 13 increased from 17 to 35. Given the number of officers recruited during that period through the uplift programme, I would expect to see more use of Regulation 13.

But some forces are reluctant to use it. One reason is that they don’t have adequate knowledge of how and when to use it. Forces should be more confident in their use of Regulation 13 when they detect that a student officer won’t meet the required standards. If these people leave the service at an early stage, this may well prevent problems in future.

When officers are found to have behaved in a way that amounts to gross misconduct, they can be dismissed. A hearing panel decides whether to dismiss an officer. Before 2015, a chief officer chaired these panels. In 2015, the Government amended regulations on police conduct and made it a requirement for these panels to have a legally qualified chair – usually a barrister.

Some chief constables are concerned that the rate of dismissals has reduced since the introduction of these chairs. Research carried out by the Metropolitan Police Service compared the probability of a dismissal at hearings that were chaired by chief officers to those heard by legally qualified chairs. The research found that hearings chaired by chief officers were 38 percent more likely to decide to dismiss an officer. This shows that there is a massive disparity in the outcomes of hearings depending on who chairs them. Further research is needed, and I welcome the Home Office’s scrutiny of this issue. As a matter of principle, the head of an organisation should be able to decide who is employed by that organisation.

Recruiting the right people and keeping them in the service

Police officer pay

Although statistical estimates vary, there has been a decline in real-term salaries for police officers. This makes it harder for police forces to recruit and retain skilled officers. A similar situation exists for police staff; however, their pay is set differently. Chief constables need to be able to offer competitive salaries to attract applicants with the right skills.

Recent Police Superintendents Association (PSA) and Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) surveys of the workforce highlight dissatisfaction with pay as a major concern. In the December 2022 PSA pay survey, only 11 percent of respondents said their pay was fair, considering the amount of responsibility they had. And only 8 percent thought their pay was fair, considering the stresses and strains of their job. Of those who responded to the December 2022 PFEW pay and morale survey, 88 percent said they aren’t paid fairly, considering the hazards they face in the line of duty.

The Police Remuneration Review Body makes recommendations to the Government about police officer pay awards. To make their recommendations, they receive evidence from the parties involved. In the Home Office’s evidence to the Police Remuneration Review Body, it assessed that within the existing funding settlement, forces could only afford a 3.5 percent pay rise in police officer pay during 2023/24. It is likely that such a pay award would further exacerbate the current trend of a real-term decline in pay.

The NPCC, Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, PSA, PFEW and Chief Police Officers’ Staff Association are all requesting an increase in police pay. Police officers should be paid fairly to compensate them for the job they do and the risks they take.

Officers leaving the service

In the year ending 31 March 2022, according to Home Office data, 8,117 officers left the police. This figure includes those who resigned, retired, were dismissed, or died. It equates to an attrition rate of 6 percent. In comparison with some other occupations, it is remarkably low. However, since the year ending 31 March 2010, the trend has been upwards, taking into account a drop in the years ending 31 March 2020 and 2021 during the pandemic.

In the year ending 31 March 2012, there were 1,158 voluntary resignations, which represented 0.9 percent of all officers. In the year ending 31 March 2022, there were 3,433 voluntary resignations, representing 2.5 percent of officers. While some of those officers may have deferred leaving until after the pandemic, there is a clear upward trend in voluntary resignations.

It isn’t yet possible for me to draw a conclusion on why so many more officers are voluntarily leaving the service. The data that breaks down numbers of those leaving policing by length of service isn’t publicly available. The NPCC and Home Office have already committed to publishing this data; this is positive in the interests of transparency. The Government has spent a considerable amount of money on the uplift programme, so both the Government and forces should be accountable to the public.

It is likely that a sizeable proportion of those leaving will have joined the service just a few years beforehand as part of the uplift programme. This is perhaps to be expected. Policing is a difficult vocation like no other, and many will find it isn’t the career for them. But many of the officers leaving may also have several years or more of experience. Home Office data shows that in the year ending 31 March 2021, rates of voluntary resignations and dismissals (including for reasons other than misconduct) were both higher among officers who identified as being from an ethnic minority background. Forces should develop a better understanding of who is leaving and why. They should then put steps in place to address any underlying barriers to retention within their control.


The well-being of officers and staff is an area of particular concern. Home Office data shows that as at 31 March 2022, 15,510 officers were on long-term sick leave or recuperative, adjusted or restricted duties. This equates to 11 percent of the total number of officers. Forces should be making every effort to support the well-being of their officers and staff and return as many of them as possible to full duties as quickly as possible.

The results from the latest PSA and PFEW surveys are particularly stark in relation to well-being. Of those who responded to the December 2022 PSA pay survey, 67 percent said morale in their force was low. The main reasons given for this included the way the police are treated by the public and the Government.

In the 2022 PFEW pay and morale survey, 42 percent of respondents said that they viewed their job as very or extremely stressful. A further 82 percent said that they had experienced feelings of stress, low mood, anxiety or other difficulties with their health and well-being over the previous 12 months.

The National Police Wellbeing Service, known as Oscar Kilo, was established in 2019 to support forces to improve the well-being of their officers and staff. In its 2021 well-being survey, 29.6 percent of officers reported experiencing high levels of fatigue. Average scores for job satisfaction of police officers had declined since the previous survey in 2021, and the number of police officers saying they intended to resign had increased significantly.

All employers have a legal responsibility to ensure the health, safety and welfare at work of their employees. This includes minimising the risk of work-related mental health issues as well as injury. There is an over-reliance on centralised, reactive services rather than making sure line managers locally are equipped and spending the right amount of time looking after their workforce.

We have seen many examples of forces taking their workforces’ well-being seriously and making efforts to improve it. For example, Humberside Police has a scheme called ‘Pause Point’. This scheme allows for someone to request a break from the working environment to support their mental well-being, or a manager can suggest a break if they have well-being concerns. In the force control room, a welfare button is available for call handlers who have dealt with a traumatic call. When the button is activated, the call handler’s supervisor is notified. The supervisor will then remove them from being available to take a call and give them the support they need. We saw another example in Suffolk Constabulary: the force invites family members of new officers to attend online sessions to help them understand the role of a police officer and what additional support they may need at home. These efforts to improve the well-being of the workforce are very welcome indeed, and forces would do well to learn from one another and take steps to implement similar measures. That being said, there shouldn’t be such a wide variation in approach to well-being between forces.


There have been many major turning points in the history of the police; we are living through one of them now. Public confidence hangs by a thread and the foundations of the Peelian principles have been shaken.

Yet policing isn’t broken beyond repair. For the most part, it is a service full of dedicated officers, staff and volunteers who are committed to serving the public. Not only do these people show great determination and courage, but they also make sacrifices – professional and otherwise – to protect the public, deter crime and make communities safer. This must never be forgotten.

But it can’t be ignored that policing has a limited window of opportunity in which to act. It needs to reset its compass and do so quickly; the police can and must do better. They must focus on the issues that matter most to communities, get the basics right and reform many aspects of their leadership and workforce.

The future of policing hinges on how well its leaders face up to tackling these challenges. Leaders must set high standards, have clear objectives and relentlessly act to achieve them. Relentless action can’t be overstated. We frequently see strategy documents that lay out how individual forces or the service as a whole intends to change over the course of a few years. Unfortunately, less frequently do we see real change. On too many occasions, we see things get worse.

Although the police service has much work to do, it can’t alone solve all the problems it faces. It can’t fix a dysfunctional and defective CJS. It can’t give itself the right level of resources, and it can’t influence many of the demands it faces, particularly those caused by the failure of other public sector organisations to deal with their own demand. Tackling these challenges requires the commitment and support of the Government to build solutions at both national level and across organisational boundaries.

Effectively holding the police to account has never been more essential. The inspectorate receives funding of only approximately £25 million a year: a tiny fraction of the approximate £17 billion that was spent on policing this financial year. Despite this, we contribute an enormous amount to keeping communities safe. More than ever, there is a compelling case to give HM Inspectors the tools they need to do this effectively.

When forces don’t act as they should, or don’t act quickly enough, they must be held accountable. In some limited circumstances, they should be given an outright direction to rectify failures. I, therefore, urge the Home Secretary to seriously consider placing before Parliament draft legislation that gives HM Inspectors the powers they need to help make the police service fit for the challenges it faces.

Annex A: Our grades

PEEL: part 1

Force Crime data integrity Victim service assessment Treatment of the public Preventing crime Responding to the public
Avon & Somerset Requires improvement Not graded Outstanding Adequate Requires improvement
Bedfordshire Not graded Not graded Good Good Requires improvement
Cambridgeshire Good Not graded Adequate Adequate Requires improvement
Cheshire Adequate Not graded Good Good Requires improvement
City of London Not graded Not graded Good Requires improvement Good
Cleveland Good Not graded Adequate Inadequate Adequate
Cumbria Not graded Not graded Adequate Adequate Adequate
Devon & Cornwall Inadequate Not graded Adequate Good Inadequate
Derbyshire Adequate Not graded Adequate Adequate Requires improvement
Dorset Not graded Not graded Adequate Good Requires improvement
Durham Not graded Adequate Good Good Good
Dyfed-Powys Adequate Adequate Requires improvement Good Good
Essex Not graded Not graded Good Adequate Requires improvement
Gloucestershire Inadequate Inadequate Good Good Inadequate
Greater Manchester Adequate Not graded Requires improvement Requires improvement Inadequate
Gwent Not graded Not graded Adequate Good Inadequate
Hampshire Good Not graded Good Requires improvement Requires improvement
Hertfordshire Not graded Not graded Good Good Requires improvement
Humberside Adequate Not graded Outstanding Outstanding Good
Kent Outstanding Not graded Good Good Requires improvement
Lancashire Not graded Not graded Good Good Adequate
Leicestershire Outstanding Not graded Good Outstanding Adequate
Lincolnshire Requires improvement Not graded Adequate Adequate Requires improvement
Merseyside Good Adequate Good Good Good
Metropolitan Adequate Not graded Adequate Good Inadequate
Norfolk Not graded Not graded Requires improvement Good Adequate
North Wales Not graded Not graded Adequate Good Good
North Yorkshire Not graded Not graded Good Adequate Requires improvement
Northamptonshire Not graded Adequate Requires improvement Adequate Requires improvement
Northumbria Adequate Not graded Good Good Requires improvement
Nottinghamshire Requires improvement Not graded Adequate Adequate Adequate
South Wales Not graded Not graded Adequate Good Good
South Yorkshire Good Not graded Good Outstanding Adequate
Staffordshire Requires improvement Not graded Requires improvement Adequate Inadequate
Suffolk Not graded Requires improvement Good Good Adequate
Surrey Not graded Not graded Good Outstanding Adequate
Sussex Inadequate Not graded Good Good Inadequate
Thames Valley Good Not graded Good Adequate Requires improvement
Warwickshire Not graded Not graded Adequate Adequate Requires improvement
West Mercia Not graded Not graded Adequate Good Requires improvement
West Midlands Good Requires improvement Good Good Adequate
West Yorkshire Not graded Adequate Outstanding Outstanding Good
Wiltshire Not graded Not graded Requires improvement Requires improvement Inadequate

PEEL: part 2

Force Investigating crime Protecting vulnerable people Managing offenders Developing a positive workplace Good use of resources
Avon & Somerset Requires improvement Adequate Requires improvement Good Good
Bedfordshire Requires improvement Adequate Outstanding Good Good
Cambridgeshire Requires improvement Good Adequate Good Good
Cheshire Adequate Adequate Requires improvement Good Adequate
City of London Adequate Adequate Requires improvement Adequate Requires improvement
Cleveland Requires improvement Requires improvement Adequate Requires improvement Inadequate
Cumbria Good Good Outstanding Good Adequate
Devon & Cornwall Requires improvement Adequate Inadequate Good Requires improvement
Derbyshire Requires improvement Requires improvement Adequate Requires improvement Requires improvement
Dorset Requires improvement Adequate Adequate Good Adequate
Durham Good Good Good Good Outstanding
Dyfed-Powys Adequate Good Adequate Good Adequate
Essex Adequate Adequate Adequate Good Good
Gloucestershire Inadequate Inadequate Adequate Good Inadequate
Greater Manchester Inadequate Requires improvement Requires improvement Inadequate Requires improvement
Gwent Requires improvement Requires improvement Good Adequate Adequate
Hampshire Adequate Adequate Adequate Good Adequate
Hertfordshire Adequate Adequate Adequate Adequate Adequate
Humberside Good Outstanding Outstanding Outstanding Outstanding
Kent Requires improvement Adequate Requires improvement Good Good
Lancashire Requires improvement Good Good Good Good
Leicestershire Adequate Outstanding Good Good Good
Lincolnshire Requires improvement Adequate Requires improvement Adequate Requires improvement
Merseyside Good Good Good Good Good
Metropolitan Requires improvement Requires improvement Requires improvement Requires improvement Requires improvement
Norfolk Adequate Adequate Good Good Outstanding
North Wales Requires improvement Adequate Adequate Good Adequate
North Yorkshire Requires improvement Requires improvement Adequate Requires improvement Inadequate
Northamptonshire Adequate Requires improvement Requires improvement Requires improvement Requires improvement
Northumbria Good Good Good Good Good
Nottinghamshire Good Good Adequate Adequate Adequate
South Wales Good Requires improvement Adequate Adequate Good
South Yorkshire Good Outstanding Good Good Outstanding
Staffordshire Inadequate Requires improvement Inadequate Requires improvement Requires improvement
Suffolk Adequate Adequate Good Good Good
Surrey Good Good Requires improvement Adequate Adequate
Sussex Requires improvement Adequate Adequate Adequate Adequate
Thames Valley Adequate Adequate Good Adequate Requires improvement
Warwickshire Requires improvement Adequate Requires improvement Adequate Adequate
West Mercia Requires improvement Adequate Adequate Adequate Requires improvement
West Midlands Requires improvement Requires improvement Adequate Adequate Good
West Yorkshire Adequate Good Good Good Outstanding
Wiltshire Requires improvement Inadequate Requires improvement Requires improvement Inadequate

Disrupting serious organised crime

Force or ROCU Grade
Cleveland Adequate
Derbyshire Adequate
Durham Outstanding
Dyfed-Powys Adequate
East Midlands Special Operations Unit Inadequate
Gloucestershire Good
Leicestershire Outstanding
Lincolnshire Requires improvement
Merseyside Outstanding
Northamptonshire Adequate
Northumbria Good
North East Regional Specialist Operations Unit Adequate
Nottinghamshire Adequate
Suffolk Good
West Midlands Good
West Yorkshire Outstanding

Vetting and counter-corruption

Force Topic Grade
Bedfordshire Vetting and counter-corruption Not graded
Cambridgeshire Vetting and counter-corruption Not graded
Cumbria Vetting and counter-corruption Requires improvement
Dorset Vetting and counter-corruption Requires improvement
Greater Manchester Vetting Not graded
Hertfordshire Vetting and counter-corruption Not graded
Kent Vetting and counter-corruption Adequate
Leicestershire Vetting Not graded
Nottinghamshire Vetting and counter-corruption Good
South Wales Vetting and counter-corruption Good
Thames Valley Vetting and counter-corruption Not graded
West Mercia Vetting and counter-corruption Not graded

Annex B: Our reports – 1 December 2021 to 31 March 2023

PEEL inspections

Child protection inspections

Specialist inspections

Non-inspection publications

Annex C: About us

Biographies for each of the Inspectors and information about who we inspect are available on our website.

His Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary

Andy Cooke QPM DL

In April 2022, Andy Cooke was appointed as HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary and HM Chief Inspector of Fire & Rescue Services.

Read Andy Cooke’s biography on our website.


His Majesty’s Inspectors of Constabulary

Matt ParrMatt Parr CB

Matt Parr was appointed HM Inspector of Constabulary in August 2016 and HM Inspector of Fire & Rescue in July 2017.

Read Matt Parr’s biography on our website.


Wendy Williams CBE

Wendy Williams was appointed HM Inspector of Constabulary in March 2015 and HM Inspector of Fire & Rescue in July 2017.

Read Wendy Williams’ biography on our website.


Roy WilsherRoy Wilsher OBE QFSM

Roy Wilsher was appointed HM Inspector of Constabulary and HM Inspector of Fire & Rescue in October 2021.

Read Roy Wilsher’s biography on our website.


Assistant His Majesty’s Inspectors of Constabulary

Shantha Dickinson

Shantha Dickinson joined HMICFRS as Assistant HMI in May 2023.

Read Shantha Dickinson’s biography on our website.



Nicola Faulconbridge

Nicola Faulconbridge joined HMICFRS as Assistant HMI in October 2022.

Read Nicola Faulconbridge’s biography on our website.

Finances and workforce

Our finances

We spent £23.1 million (89% of our funding) on staffing costs including associates. We spent £0.9 million (4%) on travel and subsistence, £0.5 million (2%) on IT, £0.5 million (2%) on office expenses and other costs, £0.4 million (2%) on surveys and inspection services, and £0.4 million (1%) on accommodation.

Note: numbers may not add up to 100 percent due to rounding.

Our workforce

Our total workforce is 266. This consists of: 189 permanent staff (71% of our workforce), 32 police secondees (12%), 16 fixed-term appointments (6%), 15 fire and rescue secondees (5%), 3 people from other government departments (1%), 3 agency members (1%), 2 fire staff (1%), 2 sandwich students (1%), 2 police staff (1%) and 2 fast streamers (1%).

Note: numbers may not add up to 100 percent due to rounding.

Back to publication

State of Policing: The Annual Assessment of Policing in England and Wales 2022