Humberside Police deemed ‘outstanding’ five years after being classed as failing | Police

A police force has gone from being classed as failing five years ago to being awarded the highest ratings of the modern era by the police inspectorate.

Humberside Police have been rated outstanding in six of nine categories by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Police, Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

Humberside Police Chief Constable Lee Freeman said one of his sweeping reforms was freeing up time for officers to fight crime by reducing the amount of mental health work done by police which was better handled by health professionals.

He said it was also best for people with a mental health crisis to be cared for by people with sufficient medical training. “If you slip off the sidewalk and break your ankle, you’re not going to end up in a police cell or a police van. Why should it be any different if you’re having a mental health crisis?” he said.

The inspectorate agreed and in its report today found that patients were receiving better treatment and the police had freed up resources.

Humberside Police pioneered the strategy, which saw them giving the health service a year’s notice that they would no longer routinely spend hours sitting with patients in mental health crisis or that they would would no longer transport people to the hospital.

The program – called Right Care, Right Person – is gaining national attention. Several forces, including the Metropolitan Police, are studying it, with its commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, keen to reduce the time officers waste on dealing with work that other services would have to do.

Freeman, who has served as police chief since 2017, said: ‘We don’t have to wait for legislation or departmental strategies. We can help each other.

Freeman said he had a good relationship with health services after initially playing “hardball”, with practitioners agreeing that experts – not police – should deal with people with health needs. He also managed to recover 1,100 officer hours per month, or 7% of the total. “We held on, and that led to partners in mental health trusts, the ambulance service and the NHS spending more money.”

The inspection said: “The Right Care, Right Person approach means vulnerable people get the support they need from the right organisation. The force has experts in its control room to support these vulnerable people until help arrives.

Humberside today scores a record six out of nine marks, not achieved by any force since inspection began issuing marks. It was rated good in two areas and adequate in one.

Freeman said the principles driving change were the same for small, medium and large forces. “Changing cultures takes longer than you think,” he said.

He cautioned against a top-down approach of leaders dreaming up executive orders and handing them out, instead asking staff and officers for their ideas. “I took over when staff were angry, they felt unsupported, unlistened and undervalued. They felt like the leaders were doing things to them, not with them.

“It’s not enough to yell at people and tell them they’re not good enough.”

Freeman said the culture change has seen officers willing to call out hateful or poor behavior from their colleagues and “break through walls” to improve crime fighting. He said: ‘Sergeants and inspectors work for the staff, not the other way around. It’s high support, high challenge. We expect them to go the extra mile for the public.

Freeman said there was now a real neighborhood policing effort. Stations closed at the height of the cuts were reopened and local officers patrolled the areas and were rarely taken away. Communities raised issues and saw them being addressed, he said.

Humberside is a rare achievement for Britain’s police, which have been plagued by a series of scandals and concerns over their effectiveness. A total of six forces in England and Wales have been placed in special measures by police inspection – a record – with fears a seventh will soon join them.

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