The overwhelming majority of police forces have seen a deterioration in recent years, reveals Andrew Kersley
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As few as 28% of assessed police forces are good at "investigating crime” leading to accusations they are “failing at their reason for existing”, Byline Times can reveal.
Analysing police inspections data on 25 English and Welsh police forces – including for the country’s biggest cities like London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Newcastle, Bradford, Leicester and more – this newspaper found that just seven of the analysed forces were rated as good at “investigating crime”.
The analysis also revealed that 76% of police forces in England and Wales have deteriorated since 2018.
One campaign group warned that this data showed that the “police treat the pursuit of crime as secondary to the exercise of power over individuals”. Another claimed it was further evidence that police forces were prioritising “harassing young black teenagers and homeless people” over protecting the public.
The analysis comes after Devon and Cornwall Police was moved into special measures after failures in recording and responding to crime, joining London’s Metropolitan Police and four other forces.
One police force, Merseyside, retained the same overall score across the two reports, while six (Leicestershire, Northumbria, Dyfed-Powys, West Mercia, Surrey and Northampton) saw marginal improvements.
Three forces – Manchester, Staffordshire and Wiltshire – were given the lowest possible grade of ‘inadequate’ at “investigating crime” by the official policing inspectorate.
In Manchester, the worst-performing police force in the country on average, the report found that police did not “routinely respond to emergency and priority incidents”, had “significant backlogs of incidents awaiting a police response”, that their investigations into crime lacked “a structured plan and appropriate supervision” and were therefore failing to give “satisfactory results for victims”.
Habib Kadiri, speaking on behalf of police reform group StopWatch, told Byline Times: “Recent inspection assessment results seem to reflect a growing dissatisfaction with civilian-police interactions across England and Wales, in turn amplifying the long-held concerns of people from marginalised communities who have too often experienced police exhibiting a lack of professionalism in performing their duties.
“It is hard for them to escape the conclusion that the police treat the pursuit of crime as secondary to the exercise of power over individuals they hold in contempt."
A previous report found that, nationwide, seven out of 10 burglary and theft cases had errors from police officers leading the investigations. Just 6.6% of robberies and 4% of thefts examined led to a charge.
A spokesperson for Netpol, another police reform charity, said that police forces are “failing at their reason for existing”.
They added: “The reality is that in many areas, particularly in working-class and racialised communities, it doesn’t feel like the police are protecting anyone, but are busy instead harassing young black teenagers and homeless people and keeping a lid on the consequences of a decade of austerity.”
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A spate of stories over recent months have highlighted systemic racism and sexism within some of Britain’s largest police forces. The Times reported this weekend on messages between police officers in Gwent, Wales, showing them openly discussing the sexual harassment of junior female colleagues; racist, homophobic and misogynistic abuse; and the leaking of sensitive police material.
Earlier this year, a report by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) watchdog found a culture of misogyny and racism at the Charing Cross police station in central London between 2016 and 2018. Met Commissioner Cressida Dick resigned following the publication of the report The Met was placed into special measures in June amid the news that nearly 70,000 crimes were going unrecorded by the force.
Byline Times revealed last year that more than half of the Metropolitan police officers found guilty of sexual misconduct over a four-year period to 2020 remained in their jobs.
A Home Office spokesperson said that the pubic “rightly expect” police forces to adhere to “the highest professional standards” and stressed that “forces and their police and crime commissioners must deliver for the public by getting the basics right”.
They also highlighted the fact that Greater Manchester Police have made improvements since their last inspection and were recently moved out of special measures.
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