Bedfordshire is the worst-performing police force in England and Wales, according to new figures from the Home Office.
It came bottom of an unofficial league table compiled by the Press Association based on government data, scoring just one point out of a possible 21.
Two other forces – Thames Valley (seven points) and Wiltshire (eight points) – achieved relatively low marks and also had overall minus scores in separate ratings for year-on-year improvement. Greater Manchester, Lincolnshire, Humberside and Northamptonshire also scored seven points in ratings by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary.
Front line policing
The report also revealed that the amount of time officers are spending on the front line has barely increased despite a massive drive by the government.The national average stood at 64.2%, just 0.6% up on last year.
Home Office Minister Tony McNulty warned that forces are facing financially ‘tight’ times as the government prepares to publish its long-awaited Comprehensive Spending Review.
He said: ‘We are now entering a more flat-line period in terms of resources after seven or eight years of growth.’
Chief Inspector of Constabulary Sir Ronnie Flanagan said most forces have made significant improvements following last year’s inspection.
But he added that some have identified specific areas for improvement, in particular in Bedfordshire where inspectors are working with the Chief Constable to turn the problems around.
Sir Ronnie said police forces have improved the way they protect vulnerable people but he said there must be no let-up in efforts to identify, manage and reduce risk to the public.
Sir Ronnie, asked about Bedfordshire’s performance, said: ‘We will be working with the force to see improvement brought about. I have no difficulty in predicting pretty rapid improvement in Bedfordshire.’
City of London Police – the small, specialist force in the Square Mile – received the worst rating for ‘direction of travel’.
The separate table, which measures improvement or deterioration in performance, saw the City force receive a minus two rating.
But Sir Ronnie said this was partly down to the force’s unique status and the difficulty in comparing it with any other force.
‘I wouldn’t want anyone to think that City of London is a failing force. It is far from it,’ he said.
Bob Jones, chairman of the Association of Police Authorities (APA), said: ‘Police performance assessments are important in giving local people an overall picture about how their force is performing.
‘Assessments also have an important role in improving police transparency and accountability to communities.’
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