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Delays to HMIC reports being published “not helpful” says chief

Northamptonshire's chief constable Nick Adderley has said the delay between an HMIC inspection and the results means the public get an inaccurate picture of the force.

Yesterday Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue (HMICFRS) published its latest inspection of Northamptonshire Police.

The force was rated adequate in four areas and requires improvement in six others.

Following an inspection visit earlier this year, HMICFRS praised Northamptonshir for the progress made since its last inspection in 2019 which highlighted serious concerns across the organisation.

But the force was rated as requiring improvement for Treatment of the public, Responding to the public, Protecting vulnerable people,

Chief Constable Nick Adderley has said the three day inspection provides only a “snapshot” representation of what progress the force has made.

“That report comes out seven months after the review has been done, and yet improvement has taken place over that period of time. So that's not helpful,” he told Police Oracle.

“The timeliness of the report needs sorting out. If Ofsted, IPCO or the Information Commissioner turn their reports around within two weeks, I struggle to understand why HMI take seven months, once they've gone through moderation and all of the other intricacies that they described as being part of that delay.

“I know that HMIC wants to move to a more continual assessment of forces. So they'll be in more and they see more on a regular basis of what you're doing and how you're doing it. I think that is helpful because you get a broader understanding of what the force is facing."

He added: “A day is a long time in policing and things can change literally, day by day.”

He also said there is “no consistency in the tipping points or thresholds” between the ratings.

“I was disappointed," he told Police Oracle. "Because I thought that in the wider context of what we've achieved, with the pressures that we've had would have been reflected more in the report.”

CC Adderley raised these concerns with HM Inspector Roy Wilsher who wrote the Northants report and said he had been “very responsive”.

The report noted the force’s declining domestic abuse arrest rate, which at 20 per cent, was lower than the national average of 29 per cent.

CC Adderley said after making domestic abuse a priority there’s been an increase in the arrest rate to 32 per cent in the 12 months ending October 2021.

“It’s disappointing too, for example, that we are seen still to require improvement in protecting vulnerable people. We have made huge strides in this area - indeed HMICFRS, acknowledges that the workforce has a good understanding of vulnerability, not least because it cuts across almost everything we do.”

The report said there is “limited public scrutiny of its use of police powers, an area the force needs to address to make sure it acts fairly and proportionately”.

CC Adderley said they had more external scrutiny groups than any other force he'd worked for "and yet they criticise us and say, well, it's not very well, coordinated". 

The inspection said there were “gaps” in engagement with certain part of the community, “particularly around Eastern European communities, young people, those with protected characteristics (for example LGBTQ), and those with disabilities”.

“The force’s online engagement relies heavily on Twitter and Facebook,” the report said.

CC Adderley challenged this. “Give me that evidence that shows that we are missing opportunities, because we are not as fully fledged in some of these other social media platforms," he said.

“There isn't any evidence.”

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