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New Chief HMIC looks to prevent forces hitting special measures

“For me, it’s a bit of a failure once they’re in those special measures,” says Andy Cooke.

Andy Cooke is looking to introduce a “smarter system approach” once he becomes Chief Inspector with HMICFRS to prevent forces from getting to the Specials Measures stage in the first place.

There are currently two forces in Special Measures - GMP and Cleveland. The process involves direct intervention from the Home Office, HMICFRS, College of Policing and the NPCC to get failing forces to make improvements in performance. 

Speaking at his pre-appointment hearing, he told the Home Affairs Committee: “That involves using better technology, data, identifying why exactly forces start to move down, so it’s more proactive in our approach.

“For me, it’s a bit of a failure once they’re in those special measures.

“At the moment [engagement is] a necessary part of what we do, and that won’t change for 18 months, two years. There’s an awful lot of work to do to get us there but if we work more smartly with all our partners, with the APCC, with the NPCC, the College of Policing, for me being part of the Inspectorate is improving policing not just inspecting policing.

Referring to Cleveland Police which has been in Special Measures since September 2019 Mr Cooke agreed that improvement within the force had taken too long.

“It’s had too many Chief Constables in such a short time. The stability of leadership is crucial in any police force, the correct funding is crucial,” he said.

“Cleveland has got some really tough metropolitan problems in there, it’s got one of the highest murder rates, it’s got high serious violence rates as well so the resourcing of that police force needs to be looked at .

“There’s a lot of work to be done, but not just by the Inspectorate, by the whole system.”

Within the hearing, Mr Cooke was also quizzed on creating a defined role for both the police and the fire service, all of which he cited as needing attention and improvement.  

When asked about public confidence, Mr Cooke reflected back on his time at Merseyside, and acknowledged that so-called “bad apples” are not a new phenomenon.

“In my previous life, I saw what an exceptional job many police officers did on a daily basis, keeping people safe

“Sadly there is a small amount of people who are not fit to wear the uniform.

“When I was a young police officer working in the centre of Liverpool, there were some horrendous people in policing, they were dealt with in different ways, when they were sacked they were sacked quietly.

“Now policing advertises it, I was really proud to advertise when we ourselves identified corruption, identified those who preyed on vulnerable people, because we should be telling the public that.

“No Chief Constable and no Chief Fire Officer in this country should ever allow individuals who aren’t worthy to wear that uniform to be in those services.”

He noted that he personally hasn’t seen a reticence to whistleblowing.

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