Surrey PCC response to HMICFRS report: State of Policing – The Annual Assessment of Policing in England and Wales 2020

As a new PCC Elected in May 2021, this report was extremely helpful in providing an assessment of the challenges faced by policing, what is working well and where there needs to be focus for improvement by Chief Constables and PCCs. Much of what was covered in the report chimes with my own experience over the last few months in speaking with senior officers, police officers and staff, partners and residents.

The report rightly recognises the unprecedented times we are in and the immense challenges faced by policing, my own force and the public during the pandemic. We have seen a change in the nature of crime during the pandemic, with increases in abuse and reduced ability for people to seek support as well increases in fraud. And we know that we are likely to see future increases in acquisitive crime as people return to leaving their homes for periods of time. My residents are also telling me about increased anti-social behaviour. This changing demand places challenges on police forces and is something I am keen to work with the Chief Constable on understanding and providing an effective response.

The report highlights the impact on the Mental Health of police officers in these current times. This is something that has also been highlighted to me. Whilst Surrey Police has made great strides in the support offered to officers and staff, we need to make sure there is appropriate investment in Occupational Health services.

The recognition in the report of the issues faced with non-policing partners is also welcomed. There are increased challenges in supporting people with mental health need and supporting vulnerable children and adults. We also need ensure that policing is part of an effective Criminal Justice System, recognised in the report as needing significant improvement. All services are under pressure, but the whole system will fall apart if we don’t work together to resolve these issues – all too often the police are left to pick up the pieces.

I am currently drafting my Police and Crime Plan, taking care to speak to all stakeholders and understand where the priorities should lie for Surrey Police. This report provides a very useful national background to aid the development of my Plan.

Lisa Townsend
Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey