COLUMN: Do inspections really encourage improvement asks Rosemary Westwell of Ely

COLUMN: Rosemary Westwell asks ‘are we really in the Christmas spirit this year?’

COLUMN: Rosemary Westwell asks ‘are we really in the Christmas spirit this year?’ - Credit: Archant

Do government inspections or reviews give value for money? Is any notice taken of the findings; does anything improve?

It was reported recently that government inspectors found that Cambridgeshire Constabulary requires ‘improvement‘ with investigating crimes.

The Police and Crime Commissioner councillor Jason Ablewhite has responded saying that the inspection was done at a time when the police were too busy, that the media has confused the numbers, and that ‘the police has undergone a Local Policing Review which has reduced command structures, increased the size of specialist teams and increased the number of constables’.

Yes, but, what is being done to improve the work of these people? How are the speed, accuracy and effectiveness of their investigations going to improve?

A local recently reported the theft of a brass bell in their church. A photo was provided for the police. The police thanked the local and said they would send it to the press. Is that all? We could all do that!

The local asked if the police knew of anyone in the area who was likely to steal it, and was it likely to have been melted down. There was no reply.

While a single bell may be a petty item and the crime dismissed as a petty crime, it is nonetheless, a crime. The more you ignore the petty crimes, the more likely more serious crimes will develop as the perpetrators believe that they will get away it.

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A lot of crimes occur because the individuals concerned run out of money – an easy way to get it, is to steal it or steal something to sell. If we want to stop these crimes, we need to do something about the root causes, be they drug addiction or unemployment.

A lot of our problems come from an office-based, nothing to do with us, there are more important priorities for us to consider - mentality. This goes for the inspectors and the services being reviewed.

We can all think of some extremely expensive reviews, inquiries, reports – whatever you like to call them - but have they actually achieved anything?

Finding out that you have to improve does little to encourage you to do so. All that you are likely to do is to set up ways that look good rather than are ‘good’.

‘We’ve got more staff’ is not the same as saying, for example, ‘our staff now contacts Neighbourhood Watch leaders for more information about their area when crimes have been committed there.’

Talking to James Palmer, Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, recently, when I said we needed a one-hour bus service in Witchford, he thought aloud, ‘Yes we must do a review of the bus service.’ Need I say more?