A Yorkshire police force was today condemned as “inadequate” by an official watchdog over the way it uses its resources to keep the public safe.
Humberside Police was the only one of the 43 forces in England and Wales to be given the lowest possible rating for its efficiency by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary.
It is the first time such a poor rating has been handed out by the watchdog since it reformed the way it inspected police forces two years ago.
Inspectors said Humberside Police had a limited understanding of current and future demand on its services, a failing that affected “its ability to provide a good service to the public”.
Their report said its current workforce model was “not sustainable” and that its work had been compromised by problems with the introduction of a new operating model.
The force has recently undergone the biggest restructure in its history as it battles to save £31m by 2019. Geographical divisions have been scrapped and hundreds of officer roles are expected to be lost.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Mike Cunningham said: “Humberside Police is working to provide a quality and timely service to the public, something which has been compromised this year by problems with the introduction of a new operating model but its current workforce model is not sustainable.
“However, Humberside Police has achieved its savings requirement and balanced its budget. It has set up a strategic partnership with South Yorkshire Police to improve efficiency by pooling resources and it is considering further collaboration.”
Responding to the rating, senior police officials said the inspection was carried out in June, when the force was in he middle of carrying out the changes, and that improvements have since been made.
Chief Constable Justine Curran said: “Of course I am disappointed by the assessment but would stress that we have moved on since then.
“The findings may have been accurate at the time but much progress has been made since then and we are continuing to learn and make adjustments.”
Police and crime commissioner Matthew Grove said the report “clearly vindicates the decision... to fundamentally restructure and modernise Humberside Police”, which he said was “consistently at or near the bottom of most national police league tables” when he was elected in 2012.
He said: “It is frustrating that the timing of this HMIC inspection came when the force was in the first few weeks of one of the biggest restructures Humberside Police has ever undertaken.
“It is a snapshot in time of how things were four months ago and there has been a significant amount of work and review since then which this report does not reflect.
“In contradiction to this report, in their previous inspections HMIC have actually supported the essential changes being implemented by the force.”
The official policing watchdog said that nationally fresh spending cuts threaten to undermine the financial sustainability and operational viability of some police forces.
The report said forces will need to make major changes to the way they work in order to drive down costs in future years.
The result, it said, is likely to be a police service that looks different in five years’ time - with fewer numbers and “perhaps less visible”, while maintaining neighbourhood policing is likely to be a “challenge”.
HMIC said that having been through change on an “unprecedented scale” since 2010, forces in England and Wales were preparing to lose another 7,400 officers over the next five years as well as 1,300 community support officers and 3,500 other staff.
However it found that the rigour of financial planning varied considerably from force to force, while most had a “weak understanding” of the future demand for police services.
Eight forces, including South Yorkshire Police, were found to require improvement by HMIC. West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire Police were both judged to be ‘good’ on the subject of ‘how efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime’.