A statement by Chief Constable Richard Lewis
The road ahead
Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has graded Cleveland Police as ‘inadequate’ across all three inspection areas (effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy).
Chief Constable Richard Lewis responds
“This report echoes my initial assessment of the organisation and it will act as a line in the sand for Cleveland Police. Improvements have already been made and I take full responsibility for driving through the changes that are so obviously needed.
"In the five months I’ve been here I have met some exceptional police officers and staff, at all levels, and have seen lives saved and vulnerable people protected by the efforts and determination of front line officers.
“However, I know this is never the full picture of an organisation and through my own observations, speaking to people in our communities and local leaders and with the insight given by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, I am well aware that we are not at the level we need to be.
“There are some basic but crucial areas in which we need to make urgent improvements. We have already started to make the rapid and decisive improvements necessary to become a more public service focused organisation with prevention at its heart.
“We have been focused on reactive policing to the detriment of prevention. This focus is changing and our prevention activities will be driven through our Neighbourhood Policing Teams (NPT) which we are re-establishing.
“We have already started, through campaigns such as Operation Phoenix, to change how we work and how we support our communities. I have also appointed a new chief officer team; a Deputy Chief Constable and two Assistant Chief Constables external to Cleveland Police. They will assist greatly in making the improvements necessary and I know that with their help, the support of our communities and our partner agencies, we will deliver outstanding policing for the people of Hartlepool, Stockton, Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland.”
1. The inspection details a number of fundamental failings and we accept these without reservation. We are clear about where responsibility lies; namely with Cleveland Police.
2. Cleveland Police, supported through the national Police Performance Oversight Group (PPOG) and under the scrutiny and strategic direction of the Police and Crime Commissioner, has started a process which must and will lead to significant improvements for the people of Hartlepool, Stockton-on-Tees, Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland
3. Our performance is fundamentally inadequate and this means we’re letting people down, putting people at risk and failing those who need our help the most. It is divisive to rank the inadequacies of the organisation but amongst the most worrying failings highlighted by HMIC relate to the response we provide to the most vulnerable in our communities including children. There can be in delay on correcting these failings and significant remedial work is already underway. This will continue over the coming months until our safeguarding measures are not simply acceptable, but the envy of every other force in the country. We owe this to our communities.
4. We have some talented leaders within the Force and others who are coming through the ranks and a process has begun to appoint new additions to the senior leadership team. We are advertising nationally for leaders of the highest calibre to serve our communities and I will leave no stone unturned to find and develop the very best leaders.
5. We will make the rapid and decisive improvements necessary to become more a public service focused organisation with prevention at its heart. We have been focused on reactive policing to the detriment of prevention. This focus is changing and our prevention activities will be driven through our Neighbourhood Policing Teams (NPT) which we are re-establishing. We have already started, through campaigns such as Operation Phoenix, to change how we work and how we support our communities
6. We must also be clear that, based on what we have seen and have been told by HMIC, this is not just about a lack of resources; we are not making the best use of the resources we have. We have many dedicated front line officers, staff and volunteers and as an organisation our challenge is to make sure we have the right processes and ways of working in place to support them.
7. It is clear that, despite significant investment and changes to our approach to professional standards that more must be done, and urgently, to tackle corruption. We must change from being reactive to being proactive in our investigations and work is underway, with external support, to drive these changes. Our new Deputy Chief Constable will have responsibility for making the improvements necessary and will have a broad remit to make the changes needed to regain public trust.
8. Every stage of the reporting, investigating and safeguarding process is under review. Starting with how we answer the public’s calls to how we assess and record risk, how we prioritise the prevention of crime, manage demand and, ultimately and fundamentally, how we protect people and solve crimes. These are the basic building blocks of a police force and we are getting them wrong and failing our communities. Our whole approach must and will change.
9. Confidence in policing is so important in keeping individuals and communities safe. We know trust is earned and we have given you our pledge to improve confidence by becoming a more public service orientated organisation. Engagement in its widest sense has not been good enough; both within our organisation and - more importantly - externally with our communities. This is a matter that the organisation as a whole needs to focus upon. Indeed, it is a very basic requirement of a public organization
10. This is a big piece of work and we do not underestimate the challenges ahead of us; we will be honest about the scale of change necessary and demonstrate the improvements being made