Tom Winsor the ex Rail Regulator and a favourite of Tory Home Secretary, Teresa May was quoted in a speech at the International Conference on Leadership and Standards in the Police recently:
Mr Winsor – who was given the task of examining police pay and conditions before taking on his current job – said the inspectorate no longer had a role in the appointment of chief constables and was now accountable to Parliament rather than ministers.
He added that HMIC would not inspect PCCs as it had done with police authorities...
...The HM Chief Inspector pledged that HMIC would place the public at the heart of its activities in its future role, adding that a new piece of work would be published shortly.This should raise some fundamental concerns about the future stability of Police Forces, first of all the situation that HMIC has no role in the selection of Chief Constables; in the past HMIC's have always advised Police Authorities whether potential candidates for Chief Officer ranks are suitable. These checks and balances are no longer there leaving an opportunity for a return to the 'corrupt practises' of the old Watch Committees.
The second point is that HMIC have no regulatory role over the Police and Crime Commissioners, so how will this work? The PCC sets the budget and the Policing Plan and the Chief Constable implements it. The HMIC still inspects the implementation and the outcomes of the Policing Plans but may be critical about some aspect of Policing where the PCC is responsible. Where does the buck stop then and who resolves the conflict? Lots of unanswered questions here.
The third point is that the HMIC would 'place the public at the heart of its activities' That place will be crowded because every officer to the Chief Constable seems to want the 'public at the heart of its activities.'
Even the PCC has a statutory responsibility to seek the views of the public in formulating his Policing Plan. I really don't think there is a role for the HMIC in this crowded playing field as well.
We should look forward to the piece of work that Tom Winsor will be commissioning (by someone who knows how Policing works!) which will hopefully address some of the cracks that are already appearing in our long applauded Policing model.