Police watchdog issues efficiency warning to forces in Yorkshire


Three of the region’s police forces have been told to raise their game following inspections, it was revealed today.

North Yorkshire Police, South Yorkshire Police and Humberside Police were among 10 forces nationwide deemed to need improvement by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

West Yorkshire Police was one of 30 forces classed as good in efficiency reports examining how well they understand demand, use resources and plan for the future.

Responding to the findings, North Yorkshire Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Phil Cain said: “Policing is about keeping people safe, and overall as a force we achieve some very positive results.

“North Yorkshire remains the safest county in England, we are one of only two forces to have actually reduced crime in this inspection period, and our public confidence rate is the highest in the country.

“That makes it especially disappointing to receive such an out-of-character assessment, and we are absolutely determined to put that right.

“The actual HMICFRS inspection took place six months ago, and represents a snapshot of the situation at that time. Since then we have made progress against their recommendations.”

Humberside Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Scott Young said: “We have worked hard to make some significant progress in the last 12 months and are pleased that the HMICFRS has recognised this in their report.

“Although the overall grade remains the same as last year, it’s clear from the commentary how far we’ve come.

“We continue to improve and have always said that improvement has to be sustainable and therefore this has to be a long-term plan.”

Nationwide, HMICFRS warned that police are leaving “low priority” incidents and crimes unresolved for long periods or without a response at all.

The watchdog said it had come across examples where nothing is done to investigate offences including violence and criminal damage.

It concluded that policing is under “significant stress” as it published today’s efficiency report.

The report says: “In reducing demand, it is important that forces do not simply suppress it, by which we mean fail to identify, acknowledge or deal with certain kinds of demand.

“HMICFRS is beginning to see examples of forces taking action to prioritise their demand in such a way that low-priority and less urgent incidents can be left unresolved for long periods.”

HM Inspector Mike Cunningham emphasised that prioritisation is “absolutely the right thing to do” but sometimes it can be “misapplied”.

He added: “In some places when a call for service is assessed as low priority, not only might it wait for a long time, but sometimes they might go unresourced completely.

“Nothing is done at all. I know there will be examples across the country of when there has been a call for service that has not been responded to or attended to.”

Asked if this could include criminal damage, assault, or violent offences, he said: “I think we would find examples across the country for all of those crime types.”

He stressed that the watchdog was not concluding that there are “systemic” failings in relation to attending calls.

The response to some crime categories has come under scrutiny in recent weeks.

Last month a senior Scotland Yard officer suggested it was “not practical” for officers to spend considerable amounts of time investigating offences such as shoplifting and criminal damage.

The HMICFRS report also:

* Flags up how some police control rooms appeared to be struggling to meet demand, particularly in relation to 101 non-emergency calls;

* Points to figures showing the number of 999 calls received by forces was up by a tenth in 2016/17 compared with the previous year;

* Details how police are forecasting they will make £900m in savings over the next five years.

A string of senior figures have recently raised concerns over the police’s capacity to meet challenges including an unprecedented terror threat and rising levels of violence without a funding boost.

But Home Secretary Amber Rudd has urged force leaders to focus on cutting crime instead of lobbying for more money.

HMICFRS said: “While most forces throughout England and Wales have risen impressively to the challenges they face, policing remains under significant stress.

“Forces’ plans for the future need to be more ambitious and innovative; in the cases of those which fail in this, the problems facing those forces could potentially prove overwhelming.”

Policing Minister Nick Hurd said the report identified “vitally important areas” where police and crime commissioners and chief constables “should be more ambitious and improve efficiency across forces”.

He added: “The Government recognises that demand on the police is changing and we are sensitive to the pressures they face.”

National Police Chiefs’ Council chair Sara Thornton said: “Police forces are determined to spend their money with efficiency and to innovate to adapt and improve our services.”

She said the report “shows we are making good progress” with most forces improving their efficiency.