HMIC concerned about several aspects of the force’s performance
HMIC Inspector Matt Parr gives his view of the force in the Annual Police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy reports.
He states: I am satisfied with some aspects of the Metropolitan Police Service’s overall performance, but there are some areas of serious concern about its effectiveness that the force needs to address.
The Metropolitan Police Service faces particular challenges because of the threats to London, and because of the size and complexity of the organisation. Londoners can be proud of the force’s response alongside other emergency services to the recent attack in Westminster, and the force has demonstrated its vigilance and preparedness for major incidents.
However, I am concerned about several aspects of the force’s performance and the difficulties it has in providing a consistently good service to the people of London.
These shortcomings were evident in our inspection on child protection, which found that none of the borough or specialist teams assessed were doing a good enough job in protecting vulnerable children from harm. This was a troubling finding, and I am pleased that senior officers recognise the need for urgent change.
I was reassured that the force understands the importance of involving the public in setting neighbourhood policing priorities, and also by its investment in crime prevention. It has sound processes for responding to reported incidents.
Since last year, the force has made progress on investigating crime, and some features of its approach are good. However, I have concerns about the quality of the initial stages of its investigations and, in particular, the shortage of trained detectives within the force.
The force makes good use of its own intelligence to tackle serious and organised crime, but the lack of data from other organisations, such as local authorities, means that the force does not have a complete picture of the threats to the people of London. Although the force’s response to serious and organised crime is effective in many respects, it does not yet routinely use other organisations or neighbourhood policing effectively in tackling serious and organised crime.
I am, however, pleased that the force has continued to be efficient. Despite the shortcomings in its intelligence on serious and organised crime, it is good at understanding the current and likely future demand for its services, and it has a strong track record of achieving savings while managing a broad range of national responsibilities. The force works with other agencies to get a broader understanding of what generates demand, and of how to reduce inefficient practices.
However, while the force responds to calls to service based on the likely threat and risk of harm to those involved, it could do more to make some of its practices more efficient. For example, officers who first attend a call could improve their assessments of how difficult the crimes in question would be to solve, taking into account their seriousness.
The Metropolitan Police Service works hard to treat the people it serves with fairness and respect. There is a good understanding within the force of how fair and respectful treatment links to increased public confidence. The force has an effective engagement strategy, and regularly seeks feedback from the public. Borough confidence plans help guide local activity in communities, although not all officers are aware of their local plan.
I welcome the investment by the force in well-being and welfare services for its workforce, and the recognition by the force that it needs to apply these provisions more consistently. However, the force needs to improve its vetting, which does not comply with national policy, and its counter-corruption procedures: the force does not have the capacity to investigate all the actionable intelligence it receives.
In view of these findings, I have been in regular contact with the commissioner. I am reassured that the force is taking action to address my concerns.