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Rebuilding public trust ‘most important thing for police’ – watchdog

Sir Tom Winsor is to unveil his final assessment of policing in England and Wales.

10 March 2022

“Major” shortcomings persist in policing, the outgoing chief inspector of constabulary has warned, as he said one of the most “important” things forces must do is “rebuild public trust”.

Sir Tom Winsor also said if police continue to use 20th century methods to try to cope with 21st century technology, “they will continue to fall further and further behind” as he unveiled his final annual assessment of policing in England and Wales before he leaves the role later this month.

Setting out his view of the state of policing over the last decade, he said: “In the past 10 years, the police service has come a long way.

“Critical advances have been made in several fields of policing, including domestic abuse, child protection, the quality of some investigations, relations with the public and workforce diversity. Police officers and staff have a very great deal of which to be proud.

“But 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.

Police officers
Sir Tom said that it is essential to keep up with 21st century technology (Nick Ansell/PA)

“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.

“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.

“They should stand in admiration of their fortitude and bravery in facing sometimes mortal danger and the worst things which happen to people and which people do to others.

“The public can and must trust the police.”

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