Tom Winsor is the HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), a role he took over in September 2012, two months before the end of Police Authorities and the election for the Police and Crime Commissioners. Tom Winsor was the first person who took on the HMIC role who has not been a Police Officer. He is about to retire at the end of this month after 10 years and in his final annual report which emerged in the last few weeks it includes a comment relating to the Police and Crime Commissioners some of which he claims “were abusing their powers”.
It is important to recall how that the original proposal for the PCCs raised by David Cameron was it was not political candidates and indeed the Association of Chief Police Officers at the time stated “Policing must not be influenced, nor appear to be so, by political bias. To allow it to be influenced in such a manner undermines the fundamental principles of British policing,”. As the PCC elections got closer all of the main political parties chose to ignore the initial comment from David Cameron and indeed the ACPO and in 2012 1/3 of the PCCs were Independent, 1/3 were Labour and 1/3 were Conservative. At the following election in 2016 tragically nearly half of them were Conservatives and nearly half of them were Labour and only 3 of the 41 were Independents. The election in 2021 shifted them even more so that 2/3 are Conservatives and 1/3 are Labour.
Tom Winsor has also stated that some of the Chief Constables had an atmosphere of “mistrust and fear” prior to the latest election. According to this article by Gary Mason who writes for the Police Oracle he states that “A significant number of Chief Constables have ….. see as growing political interference in operational policing matters” The article focuses on the comments from Tom Winsor and it goes on to state that Too many Chief Constables did not understand “the boundary between democratic accountability established in legislation, and the extent of their operational independence”
It would be fantastic if this call from Tom Winsor would persuade the Government to go back to the very strong call from David Cameron before the PCCs were elected. However as the image above indicates, our current Prime Minister is not at all unwilling to mix his politics with the image of policing which is deeply concerning.