Major shortcomings in England and Wales policing persist, watchdog says

Major shortcomings persist in England and Wales’s police forces, the outgoing chief inspector of constabulary has warned, as he said one of the most important missions was to “rebuild public trust”.

Sir Tom Winsor, in his ninth and final annual review, said that police must confront a series of problems, including the aftermath of Sarah Everard’s murder by a police officer, if damage to confidence is be restored.

He said that while focus has been on failings in the Met because of the murder of Everard and other recent scandals, problems persist in other forces, which must also be rooted out.

His comments came in a wide-ranging report that also says:

Winsor said: “Major shortcomings in policing persist, and these need to be addressed. Criminality is often now complex and far more sophisticated, and investigations can take far longer. If the police continue to use 20th-century methods to try to cope with 21st-century technology, they will continue to fall further and further behind.

“The police service cannot meet 100% of public expectations for, say, 70% of their efficient cost. The public, through their elected representatives, must decide how much risk and harm they are prepared to accept, and whether they will pay more for higher levels of public safety.

“One of the most important things the police must do, especially in London, is to rebuild public trust, which has recently been damaged. Public confidence in the police is more than precious, it is essential,” he said.

The report comes a month after Dame Cressida Dick’s resignation as Met commissioner which followed a damning report by a police watchdog into a culture of sexism, racism and homophobia at Charing Cross police station in central London.

The departure of Britain’s most senior police officer also came after criticism of the Met’s reluctance to investigate Downing Street and other government parties held during coronavirus restrictions.

The report comes at the end of Winsor’s 10-year stint in the job, which ends in this month.

He said: “As I reflect on the past decade in policing, I commend the courage and commitment of police officers and staff across the country.

“The severity of the problems that our police service now faces should not be underestimated, but the public should be reassured by the strong, pragmatic and professional approach of police officers and staff.”

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