27 Sep 2019

Cleveland Police declared the UK’s first ‘failing force’

Cleveland Police has been a troubled force for too long. Now at last something is being done to tackle its deep-rooted ‘institutional racism’ and ‘corrupt’ culture.

Its infamous chief in the late nineties, Ray Mallon, invented that much overused expression ‘zero tolerance’.

There was almost £500,000 pay to an Asian police firearms officer who was subjected years of racist abuse by fellow officers. There was unauthorised phone tapping of Police Federation officials and journalists.

Now the body which oversees police force performance is imposing zero tolerance on the force itself. Cleveland Police has been declared a ‘failing force’ by the independent inspectorate.

HMIC says Cleveland, which has had six chief constables in the past six years, is the first force in England and Wales to be placed under special measures.

Inspectors found it was failing in its duties to protect people from crime .
Last year the force witnessed a 17.6% rise in crime, the third highest increase per 1,000 population among the 43 forces. It also saw 12 murders – a 400% rise on the annual average.

The inspectors found the force inadequate in protecting vulnerable people,including children at risk;  inadequate at behaving ethically; inadequate at treating both its workforce and the public fairly; inadequate at managing demand and inadequate at planning.

They also found that officers were downgrading incidents involving young people in order to meet response times and no one taking responsibility for catching criminals.

They comment that the behaviour of senior officers from superintendent upwards is having a ‘profoundly negative impact’ and express concern the current chief constable is being given ‘untrustworthy information’ and not enough is being done to tackle corruption within the force. Many senior leaders, inspectors found, aren’t acting as ethical role models.

The chief constable Richard Lewis said “Our performance is fundamentally inadequate and this means we’re letting people down, putting people at risk and failing those who need our help the most. It is divisive to rank the inadequacies of the organisation but amongst the most worrying failings highlighted by HMIC relate to the response we provide to the most vulnerable in our communities including children…significant remedial work is already underway. This will continue over the coming months until our safeguarding measures are not simply acceptable, but the envy of every other force in the country. We owe this to our communities.”

The Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger said “I am deeply concerned at the worrying contents of this report, in particular the failure of Cleveland Police to consistently protect the most vulnerable… the Force’s recent performance is simply not good enough. I have received assurance from Richard Lewis that he took swift action as soon as he became aware of the failings.”

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