Police crisis risks public trust amid low charge rates and misconduct

Public trust in policing is at risk, and time is running out for the police and government to address the issue, warns Chief Inspector of Constabulary Andy Cooke. In his annual report, Cooke highlights that police forces are facing one of the most significant crises in recent memory. He cites “atrocious” crimes committed by serving officers and a decline in successful apprehensions as contributing factors to the public’s growing distrust.

Cooke’s first annual assessment of policing in England and Wales since taking office last year reveals that police forces are struggling to meet the public’s rising demands and often fail to perform basic duties effectively. Charge rates have dropped by two-thirds since 2014, and victims are increasingly dissatisfied with both the police and the broader criminal justice system. Cooke stated, “I can’t recall a time when the relationship between the police and the public was more strained than it is now.”

He emphasized that the public expects the police to prevent and investigate crime effectively, maintain a visible presence in communities, and respond promptly to emergency calls. Cooke noted that opportunities to apprehend offenders causing harm in communities have been missed too often. He also acknowledged that police are frequently “picking up the slack” for other areas of public services, such as mental health.

Cooke welcomed the addition of over 20,000 police officers in England and Wales since 2020 but expressed concerns about vetting new recruits and the inexperience of a workforce that lost many established officers during David Cameron’s tenure as Prime Minister. He also pointed out that some forces have been slow to implement improvements when failings are identified.

The Chief Inspector called on Home Secretary Suella Braverman to grant new enforcement powers by the end of the year to ensure compliance with the Inspectorate of Constabulary’s recommendations. Cooke said that forces had taken too long to respond to recommendations from the 2016 State of Policing report regarding officers abusing their positions for sexual purposes. He stated, “Two forces did from the start what they should have done. That should have been 43 forces.”

Labour shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper described the report as “truly damning” and blamed the issues on “systemic failings in policing” and a “totally dysfunctional criminal-justice system.” She called for urgent reforms, including stronger action to raise standards and increase charge rates.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman thanked Cooke for his report and acknowledged the need for further action, stating, “I equally share his concern that policing needs strong leaders, a greater focus on the basics and issues that matter most to the public – and to be more visible in communities.” She emphasized her commitment to reducing burdens on policing and ensuring they have the necessary resources, with total funding for policing now over £17bn.

World News

Jamie Cartwright

Jamie is a keen traveler, writer, and (English) teacher. A few years after finishing school in the East Mids, UK, he went traveling around South America and Asia. Several teaching and writing jobs, he found himself at The Thaiger where he mostly covers international news and events.

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