progress it has made over the last year, but there is still room for
improvement, the chief inspector of constabulary Keith Povey said
today, publishing his annual report.
The past year has seen reductions in medical retirements and sick
leave within the police force, as well as a declining number of
complaints against the police and a general reduction in crime.
However, the annual report finds that police forces need to
ratchet-up performance and press ahead with the reform and
modernisation programme if the public is to see the level of service
it demands and deserves.
Sir Keith said:
'The police service has been subject to significant pressures over
the past year, with a drive for improved performance, reform and
modernisation and delivery against a range of targets. This is in
addition to the requirement to rise to a series of challenges in
relation to terrorism, major criminality, and public order. In
general the Service can be proud of a year of substantial achievement
and progress, but there is still much room for improvement.
'Substantial progress has been achieved in implementation of the
first stages of reform, with record resources being made available to
the service. The police family has embraced the new concept of
community support officers and their useful contribution to crime
reduction and public reassurance, and the priorities of the National
Policing Plan are firmly embedded in local policing plans.
'We also see police forces in many instances hitting challenging
targets. Overall, the number of robberies, burglaries and instances
of vehicle crime have reduced, though some areas are performing more
successfully than others. Sick leave continues its welcome decline,
with the average now at 10.4 days per officer, well ahead of the
government's target of 11.5 days; and medical retirements are
following that tr end, with only 6.2 medical retirements per 1000
officers last year.
'However, the performance gap between forces must narrow. Each force
must strive to perform to the same standard as the very best, so that
the police service as a whole can demonstrate - beyond reasonable
doubt, not on a balance of probabilities - that it is facing down
crime all day, every day.'
Welcoming the report, Home Office minister Hazel Blears said:
'I am grateful to Sir Keith Povey and his team for their annual
report as well as their continued assistance in driving forward
modernisation and monitoring the performance of the police service
over the previous 12 months.
'The police service has shown that it is rising to the challenges of
police reform and improving performance. I am also pleased that the
sickness absence and medical retirement figures continue to fall, as
do the number of complaints against the police.
'We have accomplished much already, with more police officers and
community support officers on the streets and an overall reduction in
crime, but there is more to be done. Only by working together can we
sustain the momentum and build on the foundations of success that we
have already put in place.'
* The report is available on the HMIC website.