Police Commissioner responds to HMICFRS PEEL assessment of Merseyside Police

Flashing police siren

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner has responded to the publication of His Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) PEEL (Police Effectiveness, Efficiency, Legitimacy) assessment of Merseyside Police for 2023-25.

The force is one of two (the other is Suffolk) in the UK to be the first inspected by HMICFRS, under a new and rigorous assessment system, with all other forces set to be inspected in the same way going forward.

HMICFRS has updated its annual PEEL inspection with a new intelligence-led, continual assessment approach.  This still includes assessment of good performance, set out in the Peel Assessment Framework 2023-25, and the final judgments are now more clearly linked to areas of concern and improvement.        

The inspection looked at nine specific policing areas and graded eight to assess the force performance. It also recognised that the force is graded as outstanding in disrupting Serious Organised Crime in its regional HMICFRS inspection.

The gradings awarded are: 

  • Treating the public fairly, appropriately and respectfully: Good
  • Preventing and deterring crime and anti-social behaviour, and reducing vulnerability: Good
  • Responding to the public: Adequate
  • Investigating crime: Adequate
  • Protecting vulnerable people: Requires improvement
  • Managing offenders and suspects: Requires improvement
  • Building, supporting and protecting the workforce: Good
  • Leadership and force management: Adequate

Following publication of the PEEL Assessment, Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell said: “Merseyside Police is one of the first two forces to be assessed by HMICFRS under this new, more rigorous, inspection model and I will review all their findings in close detail.

“While there are lots of positives contained within this report, my focus will be on concentrating on the 10 areas where inspectors found room for improvement and holding the Chief Constable to account on how she responds to these to ensure Merseyside Police provides the best possible service to our communities.

“This includes ensuring more 999 calls are responded to within the 10 second target and the work to protect vulnerable people, such as continuing to improve the disclosure time to the significant number of Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme requests received in Merseyside.

“These are all areas of business that I have already raised with the Chief Constable and her senior team at my public Scrutiny Meetings, and I have been reassured that significant work is underway to address them. This includes through the recent Community First Operational Review (CFOR) which has implemented a new operational model focused on providing more dedicated resources into each of our boroughs and more investment in the teams that tackle the issues that matter most to local people.

“I will closely monitor the difference these changes make to ensure they are having the impact we expect and that, as an organisation, Merseyside Police is continually making positive progress to tackle the issues identified by inspectors.

“It must be recognised that this assessment was carried out during a period of unprecedented challenge for Merseyside Police following five devastating firearm-enabled murders, a number of incredibly high-profile events, particularly Eurovision, and a significant increase in calls for service, all of which put a huge strain on the organisation.

“The findings must also be seen in the context of 12 years of cuts.

“While demand continues to increase, Merseyside Police is still missing 450 officers. If the Government committed to returning these much-needed officers to the organisation, the Chief Constable would be able to boost some of the teams identified as carrying excessive caseloads and needing greater resourcing.

“It is simply unacceptable that some police forces now exceed their pre-austerity numbers, but a busy urban police force like Merseyside remains so significantly short. I will continue to lobby the Home Secretary to give Merseyside the funding it needs to get officer numbers back to where they should be.

“In the meantime, I expect the Chief Constable to continue to demonstrate Merseyside Police’s progress on these issues to me, and the public, at our public meetings and I will support her with this work wherever possible.

“Despite the major challenges faced by the organisation, I see incredible leadership at every rank, every day, so I was pleased to see inspectors also recognise the Community First approach and that Merseyside Police is an organisation which is focused on providing a supportive, ethical, and learning environment.

“It is this commitment, ‘can do’ attitude and focus on striving to continually improve which will ensure the organisation responds to these areas for improvement to provide an even better service to our communities.”

On publication of the report His Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, Michelle Skeer, said “I am pleased with some aspects of the performance of Merseyside Police in reducing crime and providing victims with an effective service. But there are areas in which the force needs to improve.

“I recognise that Merseyside Police has faced significant operational challenges since our last PEEL inspection in 2021. Incidents have included:

  • shootings resulting in the tragic loss of innocent life;
  • the terrorist attack at Liverpool Women’s Hospital;
  • large-scale disorder near premises housing asylum seekers, protest and disruption at Aintree racecourse; and
  • the policing of the Eurovision song contest.

“All these incidents required effective leadership, the ability to use resources more flexibly, and quick responses to changing situations and level of risk, which the force achieved well.

“But Merseyside Police needs to improve the service for the public in some important areas, such as the safeguarding of vulnerable people. The force doesn’t always answer emergency and non-emergency calls in a timely way, and it doesn’t always respond to calls for service as quickly as it should. While the force has tried to address some of these problems, for example, by reopening some rural stations to attend incidents more quickly, it needs to do more to meet the public’s needs.”

Read the full report