"... THE PEOPLE OF SCOTLAND ARE WELL SERVED BY THEIR POLICE."
This is my first Annual Report since becoming Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary on 29 March 2007, and so the year under review, from April 2006 to March 2007, was practically over by the time of my appointment. Nevertheless, the Annual Report affords the Inspectorate an opportunity to reflect on its role in the past, the present and the future.
HMCIC Paddy Tomkins
The report has always provided more than just a look at the Inspectorate and, although I have shortened the content considerably, I believe that there is still value in fulfilling the statutory remit to report on the state and efficiency of the police forces generally.
Looking back at the issues which the Inspectorate was concerned with over the year helps to take stock of some of the drivers for change and the developments already underway to address these. It appears to me that a common direction of travel can be discerned from recent developments in the police management of knowledge, of risk and of performance. Continuing improvements in these areas should have a positive effect on all policing activity, from helping to solve community problems to assisting people in emergencies, and from dealing with serious sex offenders to helping to maintain national security. I believe that HMIC is particularly well-placed to contribute to the pace and steering of improvements in all aspects of these three fundamental areas.
Scottish policing is at a stage of its development when there are many opportunities and influences that could combine to make it not only good, which I believe it already is, but world-class and an example for others to follow. HM Inspectorate of Constabulary's role in scrutinising how police forces fulfil their functions, separately and in general, offers a unique perspective which I intend to use to encourage the full exploitation of opportunities for improvement.
The relationships between local and national policing need, and between local and national governance and accountability for policing, are matters which have not been fully addressed for several decades. I believe that these may soon need clarification for the benefit of all concerned - for the people living and working in or visiting Scotland who need police assistance or protection, for police officers and staff, for police leaders, and for the elected representatives at local and national level who have a responsibility for policing and a duty to hold police forces to account. In Chapter 3, where we look ahead to the future, HMIC offers a way of looking at the issues that may help interested parties and onlookers to consider the different factors involved without becoming hidebound in arguments about structures and forms.
Whatever the outcomes of any deliberations on these fronts, my assessment of the service delivered by the twenty-five thousand people in the police service in Scotland today, is that in most areas it is as good as it ever has been and that in some it is quite significantly better. This does not mean that there is no room for improvement, but it does mean that the people of Scotland are well served by their police.