61. Memorandum from HM Inspectorate
I am replying to your letter dated 21 March
in which you ask specific questions relating to the work of Her
Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary.
Before answering your specific questions it
is perhaps worth putting the work of HMIC into context. Our purpose
statement is as below:
"To promote the efficiency and effectiveness
of policing in England, Wales and Northern Ireland through inspection
of police organisations and functions to ensure:
Agreed standards are achieved
Good practice is spread, and
Performance is improved.
Also to provide advice and support to the
tripartite partners (Home Secretary, police authorities and forces)
and play an important role in the development of future leaders."
We engage in four main types of inspection.
1. Routine force inspectiona rolling
programme of inspections to assess overall efficiency and effectiveness
2. BCU inspectionsassessing performance
and leadership at basic command unit level,
3. Best Value Review Inspections (BVRI)inspecting
police authorities' reviews of their services to the public, and
4. Thematic inspectionsvisits to
a small number of forces on a specific theme (eg police use of
firearms; investigation of rape; police integrity).
Our entire inspection regime is based on risk-assessment.
Forces to be visited in any of the four categories are selected
on a risk-based process, targeting the greatest effort where there
appears to be the greatest need for support or greatest likelihood
of finding good practice or lessons, which will be of greatest
use to the service as a whole.
With any of our regimes, the inspection is carried
out against a written inspection protocol, which clearly sets
out the areas to be examined and the standards expected of those
being inspected. Protocols are pre-circulated to forces and authorities
to provide a transparent and non-threatening method of inspection.
This also allows a measure of self-assessment and improvement
in advance of or in the absence of any specific inspection.
In our advisory role, HMIC has representatives
on all national ACPO (Association of Chief Police Officers) and
major Home Office committees. As these committees work to develop
new policy or practice or to incorporate new legislation, HMIC
plays a full role in advising the way forward. We also produce
specific commissioned papers on individual subject areas for Ministers,
In response to your specific questions I would
report as follows:
1. Does compliance with human rights
form one of the criteria by reference to which you assess the
performance of the public authorities with which you deal?
Assessment of human rights from a number of
perspectives occurs within most of our inspections, albeit not
necessarily explicitly. The inspection process is guided by the
use of protocols, many of which cover processes and functions
where there are human rights issues. For example there are protocols
covering covert policing methods, complaints and discipline, public
order management, police use of firearms, custody/prisoner handling
to cite just a few. The protocols, when developed, were drawn
up with human rights and equal opportunities requirements in mind.
2. Does the establishment of a culture
of human rights, including recognition among staff of the administrative
and public service benefits of establishing a human rights culture,
form one of the criteria by which you assess the performance of
the public authorities with which you deal?
Yes. For example, under the BCU Inspection process
there is a category of questions within the protocols that cover
culture and leadership, diversity and human resources. Issues
relating to human rights, eg use of stop and search powers, may
well be discussed with the BCU command team both formally and
informally and may be commented on in any subsequent report or
be the subject of a recommendation.
3. If Yes to Question 1 or 2, please
explain the way in which your inspection of a public authority
establishes and takes account of relevant matters.
Inspections of police forces and BCUs, or Best
Value reviews and thematic inspections are the subject of published
reports. Progress on the action plan that is developed by a BCU
in response to the recommendations in an inspection report is
monitored by HMIC. Similarly, recommendations made in thematics
or Police Act inspections will become the subject of a force action
plan that HMIC monitor through their annual assessment of forces.
In addition, inspections will often require us to scrutinise policy
documents and operating procedures, and whether they are human
rights compliant would be an area we would explore.
4. Do you maintain records of the performance
of the public authorities with which you deal in (a) complying
with human rights requirements and/or (b) establishing a human
rights culture within their organisations?
Most of our inspections are published, in the
public domain and are readily available through the HMIC website.
In any inspection a large amount of information is collected,
not all of which would necessarily be included in any report.
However, serious breaches are likely to be included.
5. Do you offer advice and guidance about
(a) compliance with human rights and (b) establishing a culture
of human rights?
Yes, for example, advice and guidance is given
regarding the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000. We advise forces
to proof all their policies and procedures to make sure they comply
6. If Yes to the above do you offer advice
(a) proactively or only in response to a request or (b) continuously
or only at the time of periodic inspections?
Staff officers and HMIs may discuss HRA issues
during inspections and during liaison visits to forces. Similarly
forces may ring HMIC for advice. The sheer amount of inspection
activity means that all forces are subject to regular and intensive
inspections across a wide range of functions, many of which may
have human rights implications. We do not engage in very much
proactive work in this area outside of inspections and ACPO and
Home Office committees.
7. If you do not (a) currently use human
rights as an assessment criteria or (b) offer advice on human
rights do you plan to in future?
HMIC inspect for efficiency and effectiveness
of the police service by means of regular and robust inspection
activity. Human rights issues will be relevant in many areas,
eg covert policing or use of firearms. There is no specific protocol
on human rights but it could easily be developed.
26 April 2002