Police force is one of worst in country

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INSPECTORS have labelled Northamptonshire Police as one of the worst performing forces in the country.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary today published their report on the review of the county force which started at the beginning of this year.

The damning report said Northamptonshire was failing to deliver acceptable standards in reducing crime, investigating crime and promoting safety, awarding it a "poor" grading in three out of seven performance areas.

But Chief Constable Peter Maddison says the report is not a true reflection of the progress the force has made over the last 18 months.

He said: "It is disappointing that the improvements that the service has produced during that 12 month period do not appear to have come through in the grades.

"An easy example of this is in reducing crime where we got a poor grade, even though we were well above average in the country."

Mr Maddison revealed last year Northampton was the fourth best force in the country for reducing the number of crimes committed, with an overall crime reduction of six per cent year on year.

He said that a further problem was the Home Office rules for totting up the marks. In the counting rules "poor" grades are given greater weight than other positive grades.

The seven performance areas are broken down into 26 subsections. Northamptonshire scored a total of eight "good" marks, 15 "fair" marks and three "poor" marks.

Chairman of Northamptonshire Police Authority Dr Marie Dickie said the report had not taken into account that the force had made progress and that the work would continue to improve performance ratings.

The report is part of a national performance review into all 43 forces.

The chairman of Northamptonshire Police Authority said the force's funding problem has been one of biggest hurdles in hitting performance targets.

Dr Marie Dickie said the refusal by Government to stick to its own funding formula for funding Northamptonshire Police had left it cash-strapped and unable to compete with forces which have similar geographical and social profiles.

As part of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary's marking procedure, the county force was compared to such forces, which inspectors call most similar forces, or MSFs.

But Dr Dickie said that it was an unfair comparison to make as the MSFs the force was compared to received much more funding and were in some cases "over-funded".

She said: "Each police officer in this county has a higher workload than the national average. We have managed to get something done about that in using our resources in the most effective way to civilianise many police jobs.

"But funding is an issue. If you look at where other forces sit in this grading system you will see more of those that are underfunded are struggling."

Mrs Dickie said that she and the police authority continued to support Chief Constable Peter Maddison and that he had exceeded their expectations in turning around performance.

But she added that they would take time to scrutinise the report to find out what changes would need to be made in the force.

Dr Dickie said: "What the police authority is most concerned about is making sure that the people in Northamptonshire get extremely good police service which offers good community focused policing.

"We will not to allow this report to force us down the wrong road because of some very crude judgements."