The latest inspection into North Wales Police has been blasted as inaccurate, wasteful and stressful by the man elected to hold the Force to account.
North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones, a former police inspector, claims the report published by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary fails to recognise the work done by the Force to improve.
The report, by HM Inspector of Constabulary Wendy Williams, follows one last year which rated North Wales Police as ‘good’ but this time says it ‘requires improvement.’
But Arfon Jones doesn’t believe the headlines of the report are supported by its findings and content.
He adds that seemingly continuous inspections are actually getting in the way of North Wales Police doing their job and requires a team of three including two police officers to work on them full-time and diverts others from their duties.
According to Mr Jones, HMIC take no account of the priorities which saw him overwhelmingly elected as Commissioner earlier this year.
It is the second such report in two years and for the first time included an assessment of how well Forces tackle the problem of abuse of authority for sexual gain by members of its workforce.
This year’s report found that North Wales Police was good at treating the people it serves with fairness and respect but has limited capacity to seek out and assess intelligence about potential corruption and could do more to recognise the signs of ill health involving mental health issues, including stress at work.
Arfon Jones said he was pleased that HMIC had recognised that NWP is good at treating people it serves with fairness and respect and had acknowledged and commended the significant efforts of North Wales Police officers and staff.
But he added: “I don’t believe the ‘requires improvement’ judgement reflects the tremendous work carried out across North Wales on a daily basis to keep our communities safe and they should not be disheartened by this report.
“North Wales Police is the most improved Force in England and Wales in terms of victim satisfaction and I don’t believe the headlines of the report are supported by its findings and content.
“The reference to a ‘drop in performance’ since 2015 is inaccurate as it is not comparing like for like – the subject areas of the 2015 inspection were not a part of the inspection this time round.”
He was also critical of the number of inspections being carried out, their expense and their focus and he said: “The Force is having to make a significant amount of investment of both time and resources just to respond to the inspection regime.
“The public of North Wales would be surprised by the sheer volume of inspections and the level of resources being diverted from the front line just to prepare for these inspections.
“HMIC continue to highlight areas they believe require investment without any apparent appreciation of the competing pressures, including financial pressures, that we face.
“The irony is not lost on me that they express concerns on the area of stress at work with no apparent awareness of the stress caused by their inspection regime.
“It’s particularly frustrating that the Police budget is being top sliced to fund HMIC’s significant growth in resources.
“But they fail to give any consideration to the priorities that I set out in my Police and Crime Plan.
“The legislation is clear. I hold the Chief Constable to account and HMIC should let him get on with delivering an efficient and effective police service that the people of North Wales deserve.
“I appreciate that it is important to have a system of rigorous appraisal of the Force but it should not be to the detriment of our vital frontline services.”