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HMIC a vital critical friend

September 19, 2012 12:40 PM

Police and Crime Commissioner Candidate for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight David Goodall has met with the HMIC's Inspector for Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularythe Hampshire Constabulary Zoë Billingham to discuss how the HMIC works with the force to improve policing and how they plan to work with the new Police and Crime Commissioner.

The Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) inspects and reports on the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces in England and Wales, as well as specified national police agencies, like the Ministry of Defence Police.

Zoë Billingham, HMIC Inspector for Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Zoë Billingham, HMIC Inspector for Hampshire & Isle of Wight

HMIC publish reports on policing matters as varied as anti-social behaviour (ASB), value for money and the August 2011 disorders. HMIC provide authoritative information to allow the public, their elected representatives and forces themselves to compare the performance of their force against others, and their evidence is used to drive improvements in the service provided to the public.

HMIC is independent of government and the police:

  • HM Inspectors of Constabulary are appointed by the Crown - they are not employees of the police service or government.
  • HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary reports to Parliament on the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces in England and Wales.
  • HM Inspectors have powers to seek information from police forces and to access their premises.

HMIC outline their inspection programme in their annual business plan, which is published on the HMIC website following approval from the Home Secretary (in accordance with the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011).

The HMIC website is also where you can download all the inspection reports and data that they publish (see www.hmic.gov.uk)

After the hour long meeting at Police HQ in Winchester David Goodall commented that:-

"Independent inspection is vital to ensure high standards of policing. It is also enables forces to compare themselves against other forces to highlight where there are possible areas for improvement"

"The meeting with the inspector was a very constructive and I believe that the HMIC in the role of a critical friend will be very useful assistance to the Police and Crime Commissioner."

The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 enables Police and Crime Commissioners to commission HMIC to conduct inspections on the whole force or a particular area of a force. This will give Police and Crime Commissioners the opportunity to benchmark a force against itself and/or other forces.

HMIC has a proven track record and expertise in intrusive and supportive inspections of policing, so it is well positioned to deliver a range of services to Police and Crime Commissioners in support of their scrutiny function.

These services include:

  • Conducting commissioned inspections for Police and Crime Commissioners (e.g. baselining, needs assessments and inspections of key areas of public concern).
  • Offering independent, evidence-based reviews and inspections.
  • Offering independent professional advice.
  • Providing a dedicated Police and Crime Commissioners web resource at www.hmic.gov.uk

The meeting also highlighted the fact that under the act, unlike the current Police Authority, the new Police and Crime Commissioner will not be open to HMIC inspection, commenting on this David Goodall said:-

"It is essential that formal scrutiny meetings of the Constabulary by the new Commissioner are open to the press and public and that they can participate in the meeting, with the obvious exception of operational and personnel matters that have for legal reasons to take place in closed session."