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Home Affairs Committee - Minutes of EvidenceHC 895-i
Taken before the Home Affairs Committee
on Tuesday 17 December 2013
Keith Vaz (Chair)
Mr James Clappison
Dr Julian Huppert
Mr David Winnick
Examination of Witness
Witness: Tom Winsor, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, gave evidence.
Q1 Chair: Could I call the Committee to order and refer everyone present to the Register of Members’ Interests, where the interests of members of this Committee are noted? I welcome Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Mr Tom Winsor, who is here to talk to us about his role but also specifically as part of our inquiry into Police and Crime Commissioners. Thank you very much for coming, Mr Winsor.
I think it is now just over a year since you were appointed by the Government but recommended unanimously by this Committee that you should fulfil this role. Are you still enjoying it?
Tom Winsor: Yes. It is the best job I have ever had.
Q2 Chair: What is so good about it?
Tom Winsor: When I was Rail Regulator I had enormous executive power and in this job I have very little executive power. But this job weighs more heavily on my shoulders, for two reasons. One is that policing affects everyone, and secondly everything on my desk, in one way or another, has risk attached to it. That is not the risk that some large corporation will suffer some financial disadvantage, but the risk that someone will come to harm, someone will lose their property or someone will sustain a life changing reversal. Therefore the range is fascinating as well as enormous and the responsibility is very great, but the potential to do good is considerable.
Q3 Chair: I remember one of the questions we asked you was the issue of morale in the police force. A recent study by Professor Jennifer Brown of the LSE-which was referred to by Lord Stevens in his report; we will be coming on to Lord Stevens’ suggestions later-was that 99% of serving officers do not feel the Government supports the police. Perhaps it is a combination of the Andrew Mitchell affair, Hillsborough, the Jimmy Savile issue and phone hacking, the trials that are currently going on. Do you get that sense that it is still the case that morale is very low in the police force?
Tom Winsor: Morale has taken a fall. There is no doubt about that. The constant battering by a hostile press focusing on stories critical of the police has had a very severe effect. Nobody comes to work wanting to do a bad job and if that is what they read in their newspapers, day after day, then it is inevitable that it is going to damage morale. I think that the thesis that-
Q4 Chair: So you are saying to this Committee that it is not about the historical issues of Hillsborough or the issues of integrity, as far as Andrew Mitchell is concerned-it is a battering by the press that is causing this loss of morale?
Tom Winsor: Not just the press. Clearly, the press are reporting on things like the Mitchell affair and Hillsborough and other things, and I am certain that causes damage to morale because the police officers in question are probably hearing from members of the public that the whole police service is in some way tainted by these scandals, even though the vast majority of police officers and members of police staff who work in the police service do an exemplary job, day in and day out. I think that morale is also-
Q5 Chair: Would morale be assisted if, for example, in the Andrew Mitchell affair, people had apologised rather more quickly? Are you glad to have seen all those apologies?
Tom Winsor: I think the apologies that have been made were entirely appropriate. Some of them were a little late. We now have misconduct proceedings in a number of cases and a criminal trial is going to proceed next year in relation to one such case. But clearly, I am certain that the hammering that the police got in the press, as a result of the Andrew Mitchell affair-and we still do not know all the facts-can have done nothing for police morale.
Q6 Chair: Do you think the police have now forgiven you for your role in the loss of morale because, at the time of your appointment-indeed before you were appointed-you were heavily criticised yourself. You talk about a battering by the press of the police, you took a bit of a battering because of the Winsor reforms, and many had opposed your appointment as Chief Inspector. Have you contributed to that loss of morale because of what you have done in respect of the various Winsor reviews?
Tom Winsor: Yes, but I think that the reviews were well overdue and many police officers have said to me they were well overdue. There were many aspects of pay and conditions of service that were in desperate need for reform and, because of the sclerotic system of police pay reform, with police pay reforms coming along once every 20 or 30 years, inevitably there were going to be big changes. However, I maintain the point that I made at my last appearance-in fact, all my appearances before this Committee-which is that the reforms have been misunderstood in many, many cases. I think that if many of the-
Q7 Chair: Are they still being misunderstood?
Tom Winsor: I am certain of that, yes.
Q8 Chair: One point before we go on to crime statistics. You took your own little battering because you wore a uniform at National Police Memorial Day, and indeed there was an e-petition in the House of Commons calling for a debate on this. Why did you wear your uniform on that day when you are not a police officer? Were you surprised at the very negative reaction you received?
Tom Winsor: I was surprised at the vehemence and the hostility. I knew that it would be controversial and misunderstood by some people, but I had not anticipated the ferocity. The petition that has been established on the No. 10 website-which I think has achieved over 10,000 electronic signatures-proceeds on the basis that the uniform in question is a police uniform. It is not a police uniform. It is the uniform of the Inspectorate of Constabulary. The uniform that I wore is the uniform of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary. Far from my wearing a police uniform and not being entitled to do so-and I am not entitled to wear a police uniform, because I am not a police officer and never have been-I wore the uniform that only I am entitled to wear.
Q9 Chair: Is that the only time you have worn it?
Tom Winsor: No. I wore it at the cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday as well.
Q10 Chair: Are you going to wear it again, even though it creates so much distraction?
Tom Winsor: I wish that it were better understood.
Q11 Chair: So you are not going to wear it again?
Tom Winsor: I have not decided that yet.
Q12 Chair: It is in the wardrobe at the moment?
Tom Winsor: That is where it is. I chose not to wear it today.
Q13 Chair: Let us move to crime statistics. In your report of 2012, you found that one in 10 crimes was incorrectly reported in one-quarter of police forces. The Public Administration Committee, our sister Committee, had evidence from a whistleblower, James Patrick, a police constable, who said that between 22% and 25% of crimes for the Met were being under-recorded or being inaccurately recorded. Presumably this is not the first time you have heard about the possibility of statistics being fiddled. Are they being fiddled?
Tom Winsor: They might be being fiddled in some cases. For example, a number of police officers in Kent were arrested. They are facing criminal trials so I will say no more about that, but clearly the CPS believes that at least in that case it has happened. The fact is that anything that gets measured, once those who are being measured or whose performance are being measured work out how the system works then there is an incentive-resisted by many-to manipulate the process so as to make your own performance look good.
Q14 Chair: Is there manipulation going on now?
Tom Winsor: It is almost certain there is some manipulation going on. The question is: where, how much, how severe?
Q15 Chair: What is your estimate? You obviously conducted a review and I think you have another review due out in spring of next year.
Tom Winsor: Yes.
Chair: This is a fairly serious thing for the Chief Inspector to be saying. We have had Bernard Hogan-Howe and Hugh Ward before us. They were quite categorical that they did not know about any of this that was going on. Bernard Hogan-Howe has a review going on. None of them said to this Committee, "We think that it is happening at the moment".
Tom Winsor: Sir Bernard gave evidence to this Committee on 3 December, where he said that in 2012 HMIC inspected the Met and found that their figures were competent and reliable in terms of crime recording. I have written to Sir Bernard about this because what HMIC in fact said was that when it looked at "244 incidents logged by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), 30 had been wrongly closed without a crime being raised, while in overall terms the MPS continues to improve its crime and incident data quality, this indicates that crime and ASB (anti-social behaviour) data recorded in London gives some cause for concern". In my view, there is a big difference between "some cause for concern" and "competent and reliable".
Chair: Yes, of course.
Tom Winsor: I have not yet received Sir Bernard’s response, but I did talk to him about it yesterday.
Q16 Chair: When did you write to Sir Bernard? After he appeared before this Committee?
Tom Winsor: Correct. It was on the basis of his evidence to this Committee that I wrote to him. I wrote to him on 9 December.
Q17 Chair: You are clearly still very concerned about this.
Tom Winsor: I would like him to explain the disparity that I have referred to. With crime recording, some people will call it "fiddling" and some people will call it "honest mistakes". Some people will call it the perfectly legitimate exercise of professional judgment.
Q18 Chair: What would you call it?
Tom Winsor: It depends on the circumstances of individual cases. There may be circumstances-
Q19 Chair: So there are three possible explanations?
Tom Winsor: At least three, yes.
Q20 Chair: Yes. But you do not rule out the fact that this is happening at the moment, because your figures last year were that 10% were inaccurately recorded in one-quarter of police forces.
Tom Winsor: That is right. What HMIC said-and this was at the time of my predecessor-in the report in January 2012 was that three-quarters of forces made correct crime recording decisions for incidents 90% or more of the time; 11 forces made correct crime recording decisions 86% to 90% of the time. It seems to me that that one-tenth fail rate on recording crime was somewhat overshadowed by what we found in Kent, where there were crime recording failures of a far greater extent.
Q21 Chair: That is very helpful. What is your timetable for the review-is it still spring?
Tom Winsor: There will be an interim report in April 2014 and a final report a number of months after that.
Chair: Thank you.
Q22 Mr Winnick: Mr Winsor, let me be perfectly frank. I was against your appointment and voted accordingly in this Committee. It was all public knowledge. You are doing the job and, like everyone else, I wish you the very best. It is only fair that every opportunity should be given to you to carry out your very important responsibilities.
Tom Winsor: Thank you.
Mr Winnick: When the Chair asked you about the row, you referred to the press as a factor. Would you accept that your report before you were appointed to the present job also played a part-perhaps a large part-in the feeling among the police that they were being subject to criticism and recommendations that went against their view-mainly, that they were doing a good job already and what was being recommended was not necessary?
Tom Winsor: I am certain that my review-both part one in 2011 and March 2012 for part two-did have an adverse effect in police morale in some quarters, but it is impossible to measure how much. There were very material misapprehensions as to the nature of the recommendations, and I said that to this Committee at the appropriate time. I was very startled that there were 30,000 police officers on the streets of London protesting against, inter alia, the recommendations in my review, because we estimated that broadly 60% of police officers were in for a pay rise. After a two-year pay freeze, a two-year progression freeze and higher pension contributions, what I found was £1.1 billion savings over three years, £635 million of which was redirected to the front line in additional pay and higher allowances.
Nevertheless, it did disappoint me that whereas the professional instincts and training of police officers are to look for the primary evidence and the hard facts and to ignore hearsay, I fear that in too many cases some police officers swallowed the hearsay and failed to look for the primary evidence. That was very regrettable. I fear that the Police Federation had something to do with that.
The message that police officers were receiving-and I do not say the Police Federation intended to send this message; I do not know what they intended-was that they would all be £4,000 a year worse off. That was just plainly not correct. But if you tell people it is going to be as bad as that and they believe it, then they are bound to come out in the streets and protest and morale will suffer. I fear that that is an inevitable consequence of doing something as controversial as the review, but I was surprised that so many people proceeded on the basis of a misapprehension.
Q23 Mr Winnick: Since your appointment, have you gone round quite a number of police forces and spoken to them about the recommendations?
Tom Winsor: Yes.
Q24 Mr Winnick: You have had their feedback. Do you think you have won them over?
Tom Winsor: I fear some will never be won over. Some have taken an extraordinarily hostile and adverse view of what I recommended.
Mr Winnick: They continue to do so?
Tom Winsor: They continue to do so, yes. But most police officers join and remain in the police service because of their extremely powerful commitment to public service and to protecting their communities. They realise that there needed to be reforms to pay and conditions. They did not like all of them but they did not dislike all of them: higher pay for unsocial hours, additional maternity allowances, things of that kind. But they get on and they do the job. The very vocal minority of course-and I think it is a minority-are the ones that shout the loudest, and that is a pity.
I do get around police forces a lot in this job. I am trying to visit every police force and every police chief and Police and Crime Commissioner on his or her own patch. Some of them have grumbled that they have not had a visit from me yet. They have to be patient. There are 43 of them and one of me. But I am getting round them. I have gone round about one-third to one half of them so far. On most occasions I try to ensure that as well as speaking to the Police and Crime Commissioner, the Chief Constable and his top team, I also have sessions with frontline officers at which they can ask me anything at all. Some of them ask about the pay review but most of them ask about the work of HMIC.
Chair: Thank you. Ian Austin had a question on crime statistics.
Q25 Ian Austin: Yes. On the crime statistics, could I ask what assessment you have made of the increased-and, in some cases, what I think is inappropriate-use of out-of-court disposals and cautions? I have seen them used for violent offences, which is not what I understood they were originally intended to be used for.
Tom Winsor: That is true. We have made no such assessment yet because we are doing our review, which has already begun. Our inspection in 2013-14 will be looking at a number of appropriate things, including whether the crime outcomes, the disposals, are appropriate for victims, for the offenders, for the criminal justice system and for the wider public interest. That is part of the current inspection, which reports in October 2014-an interim report in April and a final report in October.
Q26 Ian Austin: Could I write to you about some local cases that I have seen?
Tom Winsor: Please do, by all means. This inspection is a 43 force inspection. Not all of our inspections are 43 forces, but this one is.
Q27 Paul Flynn: In 2009 there was a case in Greenwich of a cab driver who was eventually found guilty of multiple sex offences. The criticism was made that the early complaints against him were not properly investigated. Today we are told by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism that in seven London boroughs 34% to 40% of cases that are reported for rape were eventually recorded as no crimes or as crime-related incidents. Do you find this worrying?
Tom Winsor: It is a concern. Obviously I cannot comment on the individual case you refer to because, of course, that is in the past and these things are matters for the IPCC. It is a concern that crimes are sometimes downgraded from their true nature to a lesser crime. That is sometimes through an honest mistake by police officers, but sometimes to improve the chances of getting a guilty plea the Crime Prosecution Service will proceed against them for the lesser crime.
Q28 Paul Flynn: The case I quoted was historic in 2009 but the figures I quote were published today, based on recent research on this, and there are similar reports from other parts of the country. How do you see the role of the PCCs in involving themselves in this and is it having a beneficial effect?
Tom Winsor: The Police and Crime Commissioners have only been established for a relatively short time. While the Home Secretary has been very, very clear that all central established targets have been abolished apart from one-to cut crime-Police and Crime Commissioners do not seem to have that message. Anyway, they are independent, they are elected and they have their own democratic mandates.
Q29 Paul Flynn: Yes, we take that point. The pressures to falsify the crime figures and to minimise them are usually explained by the bonus system, by the possibility of promotion or the way resources should be allocated. There was an impetus there for the level of crime to be falsified. Is there not an even greater temptation for Police and Crime Commissioners to distort the figures because they are politicians and they need to be elected? If they have to record an increase in crime during their period of office their chances of election are less.
Tom Winsor: I am certain it is part of the democratic tension. Of course, Police and Crime Commissioners do not record crimes themselves. That is the job of the police. Clearly a newly elected Police and Crime Commissioner will be rather more sanguine about high crime figures at the beginning of his or her term of office than at the end. Therefore, there is an incentive that a Police and Crime Commissioner will be more interested in producing a favourable picture towards the end of his term of office than at the beginning. But we have no evidence at the moment that those pressures are operating so as to encourage police officers to falsify-
Q30 Paul Flynn: Are you familiar with the situation in Gwent where the Chief Constable was persuaded to resign on the basis of criticism by the Police and Crime Commissioner? The only substantial accusation was that she was falsifying the crime statistics that were out of kilter with others. An internal investigation has exonerated her from that. Is that not an example of the Police and Crime Commissioner trying to influence the figures that are published? Could the same pressures now be used by Police and Crime Commissioners-and, indeed, Chief Constables-to make sure that everything is attractive to the voters?
Tom Winsor: There was a suggestion by Mr Johnston, the Police and Crime Commissioner at Gwent, that he was dissatisfied with the quality of crime recording and crime statistics in Gwent. That accusation remained an accusation rather than established fact because the Chief Constable was persuaded-in my view, incorrectly-to resign rather than to fight the case. Therefore, the Police and Crime Commissioner did not have to invoke the statutory procedure to dismiss the Chief Constable. I fear that the Chief Constable in that case proceeded on a misapprehension that the power of the Police and Crime Commissioner to dismiss the Chief Constable was an unfettered power. There is no power conferred upon a public authority that is unfettered. If that is the advice she received and if that is the reason why she resigned, then that is very regrettable.
I come back to your point in relation to crime statistics and pressure from the Police and Crime Commissioner to improve the crime statistics. It is perfectly legitimate for the Police and Crime Commissioner to put pressure on the Chief Constable to improve the statistics by cutting crime and locking people up and not in any way to falsify the figures. In almost all cases the falsification of figures is a crime in itself. That is why the officers in Kent are facing criminal proceedings. Clearly, pressure from the Police and Crime Commissioner to improve performance is perfectly legitimate. Indeed, PCCs have set targets in their plans.
Chair: Thank you. That is very helpful.
Q31 Michael Ellis: Mr Winsor, I would like to start by drawing you back to your report and the reforms that you have been asked about by the Labour members. First of all, I congratulate you on your report and your reforms. You have spoken of a 60% pay rise for some rank and file officers, redirection of monies to the frontline, higher pay for anti-social hours, maternity pay and so on. So these are improvements are they not?
Tom Winsor: It is not a 60% pay rise; it is a pay rise for 60% of officers.
Michael Ellis: I mean 60% of the total with a pay rise.
Tom Winsor: Yes, broadly.
Q32 Michael Ellis: Thank you. You talked about how some of your reforms had been misrepresented. Do you think that some of that misrepresentation was by the Police Federation? Do you think those people, either in the Police Federation or elsewhere, had a political agenda behind misrepresenting some of your reforms and your report?
Tom Winsor: I cannot possibly imagine where this is going. The political agenda of the Police Federation-yes, I think it was a political agenda. They wanted to make a case against police reform. They said it was too much, too far and too fast. They were ferociously opposed to many of my recommendations but not all of them. They did engage constructively with the pay review for a large part of the time, but it would have been difficult for the Police Federation to have got 30,000 off-duty police officers on the streets of London, many of whom were facing a pay rise.
Q33 Michael Ellis: It would have been difficult. So how do you think it was achieved?
Tom Winsor: I think many of the police officers on the streets of London were labouring under a misapprehension that had come from who knows where.
Q34 Michael Ellis: I will press you because I think you do know where that misapprehension came from. Where do you think so many police officers were misinformed in terms of what was going to happen?
Tom Winsor: Since you press me, I think that there was a great deal of misreporting of the nature of the reforms. I have no evidence that it came directly from the leadership of the Police Federation, but that may be a fact that emerges in due course. I simply do not know.
Q35 Michael Ellis: Can I ask you now about the crime statistics? I suggest to you that there is also a political agenda about casting doubt on the crime figures because crime is manifestly down, and so there is that agenda at the moment. Would you accept from me that, clearly, those who suggest that the crime figures are always absolutely 100% correct are obviously labouring under a misapprehension? There will always have been some inaccuracies and no doubt there still are, but generally speaking crime is significantly down. Would you give that to the police and the good work that they have been doing?
Tom Winsor: There will always be errors in the statistics. The question is the motivation for the errors, and many of them will be errors of professional judgment. The crime statistics do show that crime has fallen. But let us be quite clear about the nature of the crime statistics. The recorded crime figures do not record all crime. Police-reported crime-obviously, the police can only know about the crime reported to them.
Michael Ellis: Yes, of course.
Tom Winsor: The National Crime Recording Standard and the Home Office Counting Rules do not in all cases reflect risk and, therefore, the quality of policing required. Let me give you an example. What would not be recorded in the crime statistics would be an uninsured drunk driver in a non-roadworthy car that was speeding in a built up area while speaking on his mobile phone. Yet what would appear in the crime statistics would be a theft of a very small article, a chewing gum, from a national supermarket. That would appear in the crime statistics. Now, which is more important-the crime that was recorded or the crime that was not recorded? Unless that uninsured drunk driver came to grief and injured somebody, or injured somebody’s property, it would not appear on the statistics. The risk is obviously part of the matter.
Q36 Michael Ellis: It is a factor. Clearly, there are flaws in the system. Most people would accept that; no system is perfect. The key thing is that the system is currently being calculated using the same methods as has been the case for some years. Therefore, a correlation can be made between previous figures and current figures. However flawed the system is, however imperfect the system is, it is the same system and it is now showing a substantial fall.
Tom Winsor: That is correct.
Q37 Michael Ellis: Can you cast your mind on this reflection? Although, for obvious reasons, there is sometimes a suggestion that crimes are being downgraded when they are being put into statistics, there is a possibility that the original recording was upgraded and, therefore, it is appropriate to downgrade that crime. For example, a person might be arrested for a robbery but is subsequently charged or convicted as a theft. It might not have been improperly downgraded; it might have improperly been described as a robbery in the first instance. Do you see my meaning?
Tom Winsor: Yes, it could be either way.
Q38 Michael Ellis: There are a number of alternative explanations for these changes. It does not always necessarily following that there is mischief behind it, does it?
Tom Winsor: Correct. When more facts are known, when the crime has been further investigated it may be very clear that no crime has been committed at all, in which case there would be what is called a no crime decision. It could go either way. In both cases it is perfectly possible and-indeed, I expect in a very considerable proportion of cases-perfectly legitimate.
Q39 Michael Ellis: Then you have confidence in the figures, generally speaking? Not 100% confidence but-
Tom Winsor: I have confidence in the integrity of the vast majority of police officers, some of whom will make honest mistakes.
Q40 Michael Ellis: My final question to you from me is that, having done this job for-is it a year now?
Tom Winsor: One year and a bit.
Michael Ellis: One year and a bit, and having worked closely with the police would you agree with me that the vast majority of our police-despite the criticism that the Chairman has alluded to that has come from various quarters-do an excellent job and work extremely hard and have the highest levels of integrity?
Tom Winsor: Yes.
Q41 Ian Austin: Very quickly on this issue about the statistics. In my experience what generally happens is that the Government claims that crime is going down and the Opposition claims that crime is going up-whoever is in power, that is basically what happens. How do you think it might be possible to arrive at a robust, independent set of statistics that command the same level of public trust and authority as we get with the reporting of economic data, for example? By and large, statistics on economic growth, inflation and all the rest of it are not subject to the same amount of party political bickering as the crime statistics are.
Tom Winsor: It is very difficult to determine the ways in which the crime statistics can be improved until after we have finished our inspection to see how well the system of crime recording is done at the moment. It will always be hard to come up with an entirely reliable set of crime recordings because of the very many different shades of grey that there may be in making judgments as to the nature of the crime that has been reported. Of course there are some cases where a crime is reported and then it is found not to have been a crime at all.
The police deal with industrial quantities of dishonesty. There can be few jobs where you go to work and you expect that a very significant proportion of the people that you have to deal with that day will be lying to you, and so there is a very considerable angle there. The trust of the public in the integrity of the police is extremely important and, therefore, the integrity of the crime statistics is extremely important. That is what our 2014 inspection is going to get to the bottom of.
If I may just add to this. I mentioned what the National Crime Recording Standard cannot do. Can I give a further list of examples of what would not appear in the National Crime Recording Standard?
Chair: Could you send us a list unless it is-
Tom Winsor: It is only a few words.
Tom Winsor: It will not record, unless the victim has reported it or it has come to the attention of the police some other way: paedophilia, child sexual exploitation, human trafficking, cyber crime, identity theft, counterfeiting, intellectual property crime, undetected drugs, gun trafficking and money laundering. Those are very high risk areas of crime but unless a victim has come forward-
Chair: They are not recorded
Tom Winsor: They are not recorded unless the victim has come forward or the police have become aware of it in some other way.
Chair: It is obviously very important.
Tom Winsor: It is not a perfect measure of the crime that is taking place; it is the measure of what crime has been recorded.
Q42 Chair: Of course. We do need to move on, but let me just be clear because otherwise what you have said will be misinterpreted. What you have said to this Committee today is this. The vast majority of the crimes that are recorded are correctly recorded. There are some mistakes made in the recording of those crimes but-I think you said this earlier but just clarify this-you remain concerned that in certain cases they are not being recorded appropriately. I use the word "fiddled". You said that you have concerns about that. Do you have concerns about that?
Tom Winsor: Inevitably there will be concerns that-
Chair: No, not inevitably, do you have concerns? Inevitably is a very long time.
Tom Winsor: Yes. That is why we are doing the inspection of 43 forces.
Q43 Chair: You have concerns about the integrity of some of these. What Mr Patrick has said to the Committee you believe merits further attention?
Tom Winsor: Mr Patrick’s evidence, I think to your sister Committee-
Tom Winsor: -has referred to a number of practices that he says he has observed. Clearly these are matters that are germane to the inspection that we will carry out.
Q44 Chair: Sure. He said in reply to the Chair of that Committee, Bernard Jenkin, "You can physically see these in the notes". He is talking about something that has been changed in notes. You will be looking at those notes, will you?
Tom Winsor: Yes, we will. We will be looking very hard and in all 43 forces.
Q45 Chair: That is very helpful. You will be asking the Commissioner for a response to the letter that you sent him?
Tom Winsor: I have already asked him for a response.
Chair: Excellent. Let us now move on to Dr Huppert and to Police and Crime Commissioners.
Q46 Dr Huppert: Thank you very much. I think the biggest challenge is morale in the police force. When I talk to police officers, that is the big challenge. Can I look at some of the structural things? There is your role as HMIC and your team. There is the IPCC. There is the College of Policing. There is ACPO as it exists in its current form. There are quite a lot of people doing various things that look superficially similar. How do you make sure there is not a massive duplication of effort?
Tom Winsor: The College, the IPCC and HMIC are the three bodies who have or are to have statutory authority. We are all aiming for the same thing, which is making policing better, improving the protection of the public interest, but we have separate roles. We have separate jurisdictions and separate toolkits with which to achieve that common objective.
There is no material tension, overlap or conflict between the roles of the College of Policing, which is broadly to set professional standards and to operate as a professional body. The IPCC is there to deal with complaints against individual officers and the HMIC looks at the systemic failures and the efficiency and effectiveness of the police service. There is a superficial case to be made-and I regard it as enormously superficial case to be made-of merger of all or two of the bodies in question. Indeed, the Stevens Commission recommends merger of the IPCC and HMIC. I think that that recommendation is misconceived.
Q47 Dr Huppert: That was the recommendation from the Labour Party’s report into policy. What about the College of Policing? It seems that, certainly in the past, the HMIC has made recommendations about policy and professional standards that look like the sort of thing I would expect the College of Policing to be doing. The College of Policing prides itself on being evidence based. It has academic input. Why does that not cover much of what you would do?
Tom Winsor: Until the College of Policing was established, absent Parliament’s intervention HMIC was pretty much the only organisation that would set de facto standards for policing. We would make a judgment as to what efficient and effective meant and, therefore, measure the police forces against those standards. Now we have the College of Policing with an explicit standard setting role. That is an extremely positive step and the standards that the college set will now be a material input into the inspections that HMIC carries out. They set the standards. We will be inspecting, including having regard to the college’s own standards. There is no conflict there.
The College of Policing and HMIC signed a concordat quite recently. We published it, making it clear that we have separate but complementary jurisdictions but common objectives. It is under discussion now that we should make that a tripartite concordat with the IPCC as well, making it clear how coherent that structure is: three separate bodies with separate jurisdictions but common objectives.
Q48 Dr Huppert: It would be helpful to clarify just to make sure that I understand. What you are saying is that some of the role that was HMIC has now transferred to the College of Policing. They will set the standards. You will assess that their standards are being met. Is that the right way round?
Tom Winsor: That is certainly part of it. Their standards will be a material input into our assessment of efficiency and effectiveness.
Q49 Dr Huppert: When you say "material input" does that mean there is some possibility that you assess other standards?
Tom Winsor: They may not have established a standard in some material respect, in which case we will have to carry on doing what we do now.
Q50 Dr Huppert: If that happens, would you ask them to develop a standard or would you operate yourselves?
Tom Winsor: Yes, we may very well make recommendations that standards should be established in a particular field.
Q51 Dr Huppert: But there is no possibility that they would set one sort of standard and you would apply something different in an area they have commented on?
Tom Winsor: It depends on the circumstances of the case, but their standard is going to be a very material input.
Q52 Ian Austin: To what extent do you think the introduction of PCCs has affected your workload and do you have the necessary level of resources to deal with it?
Tom Winsor: It has not affected it nearly as much as I feared. When I took over this job it was six weeks before the Police and Crime Commissioners were elected, and my greatest fear-I have other fears now-was that we would receive detailed commissions from 43 Police and Crime Commissioners in the first month. Perhaps that was an excessive fear. In fact we have had very few. The first one we got was from the Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent in relation to crime recording. But we have had very few commissions. We have some in the pipeline and we are discussing them with Police and Crime Commissioners. As things stand at the moment, the fact is that with our workload we are burning red hot in terms of our resources.
Q53 Ian Austin: Can you envisage any circumstances under which you might have to investigate a PCC?
Tom Winsor: No, not directly. Because whereas under the legislation before the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 did provide for HMIC to inspect Police Authorities, it is the very clear intention of Parliament that that jurisdiction should not carry forward in terms of Police and Crime Commissioners. However, what I have said is that if, having carried out an inspection concerning the efficiency and effectiveness of a police force, we at HMIC believe that a decision or a failure to act on the part of a PCC has materially impeded the ability of the Chief Constable to achieve efficiency and effectiveness, then we will say so.
That caused a certain frisson of excitement in the PCC community because they thought that they were going to be immune to any kind of commentary from HMIC. I think that that was a misconception on their part. Police and Crime Commissioners have such a material influence and effect on the efficiency and effectiveness of the police force.
If it had been Parliament’s intention that whatever happened in the PCC’s office would be in a darkened room behind a locked door, Parliament would have been very clear in saying, "You must never go in there and look and see what has happened or at least comment upon what has happened, insofar as it affects the efficiency and effectiveness of the police force".
After all, we can and do say if we think that the Home Office, education, housing, social services or other agencies of the state have impeded efficiency and effectiveness, so why would we close the door in terms of PCCs? We won’t. If Parliament had wanted us to do that, it would have made it clear.
Q54 Chair: You say you are commissioned to do this work by PCCs. Do they pay for this work?
Tom Winsor: Yes, they do.
Q55 Chair: How would you work out what to charge them? Is it an hourly rate?
Tom Winsor: Yes. We charge daily rates depending on the seniority and actual specialism.
Q56 Chair: What is your daily rate?
Tom Winsor: What is my daily rate?
Tom Winsor: I do not have a daily rate because I do not do the inspections of Police and Crime Commissioners.
Chair: No, but for one of your senior inspectors.
Tom Winsor: I think depending on the nature of the work it is around about £400 a day, but please allow me to write to you about that.
Q57 Chair: Of course, yes. There is nothing to stop them coming to you for this kind of work?
Tom Winsor: They can come to us in their legions, but while we can get the money from them what we need is the capacity. Those who are expert in inspecting the efficiency and effectiveness of the police service are not people we can just hire in a moment. What we do have is an associate scheme. These are people who are pre-cleared. Some of them have security clearance. They are former police officers. There are other specialists, who are not engaged by HMIC on a full-time basis, that we can call on at very short notice to deal with spikes in demand and we do. At the moment we have 70 authorised associates and that number is going to go up to 100.
Q58 Chair: You sound surprised that Lord Stevens called for a merger between HMIC and the IPCC.
Tom Winsor: I am not surprised.
Q59 Chair: Did he speak to you before he wrote his report?
Tom Winsor: Yes. I am one of the few people who gave evidence to his commission. He took evidence from rather fewer people than I did.
Q60 Chair: We are having him in so we will hear from him. In principle, there is nothing wrong with changing structures if functions remain. Your attachment is to functions, is it not?
Tom Winsor: My concern about the merger of the IPCC-which deals with complaints against individual police officers and, therefore, must have no police officers in its organisation-is that it would operate materially adversely in terms of the HMIC role, where we have to have serving police officers who are seconded to us, so they have current knowledge and expertise to do the efficiency and effectiveness assessments that we do. About 60% of our staff are serving police officers.
Q61 Chair: Yes. What does he want you to do? He wants you to be part of the complaints system then, does he?
Tom Winsor: I think what they want to do is to merge IPCC and HMIC and call us something new. This same thing was considered and, indeed, implemented by the last Government in the case of the railways. The economic regulatory authority-of which I was the head-and the safety regulatory authority were put together. If this is what Parliament decides to do, I think that what will happen in this case will have the same effect. They will remain as completely separate chambers that come together only at the very top.
Let us say that happened. When the board of the new authority are considering how to deal with, or indeed to resource, something that the IPCC would have done, are we really to take the most senior people in the organisation, Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Constabulary who have been Chief Constables, and ask them to leave the room? Because-
Q62 Chair: Yes. It seems to me you have completely different functions. How can you carry on commissioning work and be commissioned to do work if you are part of the complaints system, even if it is only a meeting at board level? I know that it is not your idea but it just sounds difficult.
Tom Winsor: It is not my idea.
Chair: We will have him before us shortly so we will ask him.
Q63 Michael Ellis: Mr Winsor, you spoke previously at this Committee about how you would like to achieve higher visibility for the role of the HMIC and a higher public profile. How would you like to go about that? Do you think you have you succeeded so far and what are your moves going forward as far as that is concerned?
Tom Winsor: There was a time-for a long time perhaps in the distant past-when HMIC was regarded as the police talking to the police, the police marking their own homework. Some even said to me that becoming one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Constabulary was like going to the House of Lords for cops.
A lot of water has passed under the bridge and of course my appointment does intensify that distance from the old regime. We are entirely focused on protecting the public interest and taking an objective, dispassionate and professional view on efficiency and effectiveness of the police service. We will do so without regard to political criteria because there are no political criteria in our mandate. Therefore, we must talk directly to the public. Therefore we are materially improving. We have already made material improvements on our website, which is our shop window, and also in the publicity of our work, the explanation of our inspection programme, the public surveys that we do and also explaining to the public, in the simplest possible terms, what it is we do and why we are doing it.
Q64 Michael Ellis: Do you think you could be more front and centre in that regard?
Tom Winsor: That I should be?
Michael Ellis: You personally. That you could do more in terms of perhaps media, more visiting of local constabularies and seeing the work that they do and adopt a higher profile so that you can get across the message that the HMIC is not a soft touch, is not retired police officers reviewing serving police officers, that it is someone who is fiercely independent and will get on with doing the job?
Tom Winsor: I could have a higher media profile if I chose to. When I was Rail Regulator, because of the problems of the railway, I had an enormously high media profile and some of my former colleagues from those days have said, "Why are you so much lower profile?"
As I mentioned earlier, I do a great deal of local visiting and we do brief the local press when they are interested. However, HMIC is not the same as the Rail Regulator. When I was Rail Regulator, I had all power in my hands. There was one person and that was me. There are five Inspectors of Constabulary. The model that I have chosen to operate, which has the full support of my fellow Inspectors of Constabulary, is, even though I am the Chief Inspector of Constabulary, we are all appointed directly by the Crown on the advice of the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary. If one of the other HMIs has led a piece of inspection work, then he or she should front it up in terms of the media. So we are operating a much more collegiate and co-operative approach, rather than what might be described as a cult of personality.
Chair: One way of doing it is to keep wearing your uniform and then your profile will continue to be very, very high.
Q65 Mr Clappison: I am tempted to say that, given the nature of some people on the internet, if you had not worn the uniform you might have had 20,000 people complaining that you were not wearing it. But there we are.
Can I go back to the Police and Crime Commissioners? Do you think it is at all possible to collect comparative data on them to see how they are getting on?
Tom Winsor: We do not inspect them, so I think that would probably be not an appropriate or legitimate function for us. However, as we inspect and report upon the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces, and we do more and more 43 force inspections, then clearly the influence that Police and Crime Commissioners have had on the efficiency and effectiveness of the Chief Constable in question will come out of that process. But I think that is about as far as we can go. Until Parliament-and I do not think it will-changes our remit and requires us to inspect Police and Crime Commissioners, and I have no appetite for that but that is Parliament’s decision, then I think that is as far as we can go.
Q66 Chair: Before I call Mr Winnick, I think I said that we recommended your appointment on a unanimous basis. Mr Winnick put the record correct; it was a majority decision.
Tom Winsor: I noticed that. It was 8:1.
Chair: Of course, Mr Winnick voted against it, as he said.
Tom Winsor: 8:1 is not a bad score.
Chair: Indeed. It is not a bad score from this Committee.
Tom Winsor: I shall try very hard to win around the one.
Q67 Mr Winnick: We are not always unanimous, Mr Winsor, and not necessarily just in your case.
As I am sure you are aware, there is a great deal of concern about women who have been murdered. It would appear the police did not act before as quickly as they should have done or did not act effectively at all. I understand that HMIC is carrying out a review in some of these cases-for example, the stabbing of Ms Wood.
Tom Winsor: Yes. We are doing a major inspection on domestic abuse. We will be carrying out that work in the 2014 programme.
Mr Winnick: You are carrying out a review?
Tom Winsor: Yes. It is a Home Secretary commission. It came after we established our inspection programme for the current year. The Home Secretary has commissioned us to investigate the police handling of domestic abuse in all 43 forces.
Q68 Mr Winnick: When is that review likely to report?
Tom Winsor: That review is likely to report in early 2015. It may be earlier.
Q69 Mr Winnick: On the basic issue of these cases, what do you think could be done more effectively when women-obviously not in all cases, but it tends to be women-report acts of violence carried out by their partners or former partners? I understand it does tend to be former partners. Are you satisfied that these reports are being considered seriously enough?
Tom Winsor: A great deal has changed in the last years in relation to domestic abuse. I was speaking recently to a senior Chief Constable who was commenting favourably upon the change in attitude to domestic abuse. He explained that at the beginning of his career the phrase was, "It is just a domestic" and now of course domestic abuse is taken extremely seriously.
As I said, we are carrying out our investigation in the current inspection year because there is a widespread public concern in relation to the efficiency and effectiveness with which the police handle complaints of domestic abuse. Let us remember that broadly a victim of domestic abuse will be abused perhaps as many as 30 times before she-and it is almost always a she-first reports the matter to the police. That is an extremely serious state of affairs and our inspection will be appropriately searching.
Q70 Mr Winnick: Do I take it that it is Chief Constables or the Commissioner in London, as the case may be, who write to the police forces under their command or do you do so in your present role?
Tom Winsor: In relation to domestic abuse, this is a matter of operational policing. It is a matter within the jurisdiction of the Chief Constable. We can only inspect and report to Parliament on what we find.
Q71 Mr Winnick: We are very concerned as well in a form of abuse that has become notorious-namely, female genital mutilation. Does it surprise you that, as far as I understand the position, there has not been a single prosecution for that in this country?
Tom Winsor: It disappoints me, but there are material factors at work as to why there has not yet been a prosecution. As I understand it, it has been explicitly illegal in England and Wales since 1985. It has been illegal in Scotland since the beginning of time. Yet there has never been a prosecution, although I understand-both from the evidence that the Commissioner gave to this Committee and also from statements by the Director of Public Prosecutions-that there is optimism that there will be a case quite soon. As the Commissioner mentioned to this Committee, the difficulty is that sometimes the victims will be too afraid to make a complaint. Of course, they are reluctant to make a complaint against those who almost always will be their parents.
Mr Winnick: Against immediate family, yes.
Tom Winsor: They will not want their parents to be prosecuted, so it is getting the evidence. There are also perhaps cultural reasons why the propensity to make a complaint may be very limited.
Q72 Mr Winnick: Would you say that this barbaric custom-there is no other way to describe it-is now widespread in this country? I assume it is not. Would you comment on that?
Tom Winsor: I cannot speculate. I have no evidence. Clearly in some communities it is a practice that goes back a long way. I entirely agree with you-it is a barbaric mutilation of defenceless children. It is illegal and, when proved, it should be met with the most severe penalties of the law.
Q73 Mr Winnick: All the evidence seems to suggest that the Muslim community as a whole are totally opposed to this custom.
Tom Winsor: If that is the case then I applaud that.
Q74 Chair: Thank you. We are coming to the end. Just a couple of final questions. You made a very interesting speech on 29 April about procurement. You said that if you look in the police locker you will find a smart phone, which has a much better potential, greater capacity, than the Airwave system. You also talked about primitive and antiquated technology.
I thought it was an excellent speech. I heard you on the Today programme the morning that you made that speech. What has happened since? Not much seems to have changed as far as procurement is concerned. For example, if you look at tasers, the United Kingdom police pay £850 for each taser but you can buy them in America for £547. What are we doing about that? It is obviously a function of the inspectorate that they should be saying things about procurement.
Tom Winsor: Yes. We published a report with the National Audit Office earlier this year in relation to procurement in the police service, which I think has been well received. But clearly it goes to the heart of efficiency. With police budgets remaining under very severe pressure, it is extremely important that public money is spent as wisely and as appropriately as possible. So the procurement practices of the police are of very considerable interest to the inspectorate when we assess efficiency as part of evaluating the police programme. We have now done three major reports on how police forces are responding to the budgetary pressures.
Q75 Chair: Where does it sit now? This is the confusion. Obviously, we have admired what the Home Secretary has done in respect of the new landscape of policing in de-cluttering the landscape-although the landscaping is not over yet, so the clutter might even be greater than when she started. One of the issues was you had the NPIA. Who now says, "We think that procurement should be done in this way. You are spending too much money on cars. You are spending £300 extra on a taser"? It is not you, is it? Is it the college?
Tom Winsor: No, it is not the college.
Chair: Who is it then?
Tom Winsor: Police and Crime Commissioners have a material role to play. Of course the opportunities for collaboration, including collaboration between police forces in procurement, must be fully utilised. We do comment on the extent to which police forces have collaborated on things that are capable of joint operations.
Q76 Chair: You know that there is a new procurement hub, which apparently saved 2% of all purchases even though the target was that they should save 80% by 2015. That is not very good progress, is it?
Tom Winsor: It is a pretty slow start.
Q77 Chair: What should be done?
Tom Winsor: It should be re-energised and it should operate to its maximum capacity.
Q78 Chair: You mentioned morale. One of the key issues of morale is of course the reductions in finance locally. One of the concerns that I have received is the reduction in the number of dogs and bitches available to the police-for example, Greater Manchester Police, where 136 dogs have been reduced to 36. This is a concern because the Committee has observed the way in which they operate in trying to find drugs and the other activities. This is a huge reduction. Obviously it is not police officers but these are essential to the police doing their work. Are you aware of the huge reduction in the animals?
Tom Winsor: We are aware of it. It is not part of our inspection programme, but we are aware that there has been a significant reduction.
Q79 Chair: Who would look at this and therefore be responsible for saying, "Goodness, if we lose all this expertise it is going to be even more difficult". Where drugs are concerned, they are very important. We have observed these dogs ourselves.
Tom Winsor: The resources available to the Chief Constable are a matter for the Police and Crime Commissioner. How the resources are deployed is, of course, a matter for the Chief Constable. It is extremely important that the Chief Constable maintains the capacity of his force, including the live assets of his force, the canine assets of his force, to the most appropriate extent to deal with the threats, the harm and the risk that the community faces.
Q80 Chair: A recent study by the University of Nottingham found that 56% of custody officers showed signs of anxiety or depression. Is it part of your role to try to look at that kind of issue when you are looking at why morale is so low?
Tom Winsor: Anything that goes to the efficiency or effectiveness of the police is within the jurisdiction of HMIC. Of course we must prioritise our work, but if people are sustaining much lower levels of effectiveness for these reasons then it is certainly something that we can and should consider.
Chair: There are a number of issues that I am sure the Committee has, but we will write to you about them. Thank you very much. You have been willing to come in-oh sorry, Mr Flynn had one.
Q81 Paul Flynn: Just a very brief one. I want to trap one of the hares that Mr Ellis has set running. You are aware that the interest in crime statistics in the Public Administration Committee was instigated by Mr Bernard Jenkin, the Chairman, and the person who made the complaint is one of his constituents. Mr Jenkin has never been accused of being a revolutionary Marxist. You do understand that the Committee are pursuing this, as always, in the public interest and it is not politicised in any way.
Chair: You do not have to comment on whether you think he is a Marxist or not.
Tom Winsor: No, he is not a Marxist. He was shadow Secretary of State for Transport when I was Rail Regulator, and we had several robust and interesting conversations then. I look forward to having another one.
Chair: Mr Winsor, thank you very much for coming in. We look forward to seeing you again, with or without your uniform.
Tom Winsor: Thank you.