The departing chief inspector of constabulary has commended the courage and commitment of police officers and staff as he delivered his final report.
Sir Tom Winsor, who leads Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services, said the police service had a lot to be proud of as he set out his final assessment of policing in England and Wales in his State of Policing report.
Sir Tom said that policing has come a long way in the last decade but that major shortcomings persist and need to be addressed.
In his final report after almost a decade in post, Sir Tom described how online crime is now the most prevalent type of crime; that public expectations can’t be met without sufficient funding and that the advancement in technology had provided opportunities for police but they’ve sometimes struggled to keep pace with criminals.
His report also drew attention to the “material and unjustified load placed on the police by the chronically insufficient public provision of treatment of mental ill health”, as well as the need for improved vetting of officers and staff, the state of the criminal justice system, and the system of police accountability.
Sir Tom said: “In the past 10 years, the police service has come a long way. Critical advances have been made in several fields of policing, including domestic abuse, child protection, the quality of some investigations, relations with the public and workforce diversity. Police officers and staff have a very great deal of which to be proud.
“But major shortcomings in policing persist, and these need to be addressed. Criminality is often now complex and far more sophisticated, and investigations can take far longer. If the police continue to use 20th-century methods to try to cope with 21st-century technology, they will continue to fall further and further behind.
“The police service cannot meet 100 per cent of public expectations for, say, 70 per cent of their efficient cost. The public, through their elected representatives, must decide how much risk and harm they are prepared to accept, and whether they will pay more for higher levels of public safety.
“One of the most important things the police must do, especially in London, is to rebuild public trust, which has recently been damaged. Public confidence in the police is more than precious, it is essential.
“As I reflect on the past decade in policing, I commend the courage and commitment of police officers and staff across the country. The severity of the problems that our police service now faces should not be underestimated, but the public should be reassured by the strong, pragmatic and professional approach of police officers and staff. They should stand in admiration of their fortitude and bravery in facing sometimes mortal danger and the worst things which happen to people and which people do to others.
“The public can, and must, trust the police.”
Cambridgeshire Police Federation chair Liz Groom said: “Sir Tom’s report includes many of the things that we’ve been highlighting for as a Federation.
“We need the investment right through policing to ensure we have a service that meets the needs and expectations of the public.
“Too often our members are trying to tackle crime with one hand tied behind their backs. It’s now time that the Government put in the levels of investment needed to properly fund our police.”
Liz added: “We know we have work to do to restore the absolute faith and trust of the public, but the vast majority of officers and staff are dedicated to their job.
“Every day they demonstrate the bravery, judgement and abilities required to deal with people in distress, to deal with delicate circumstances, and to deal with potentially life-threatening situations.”