The police force has gone from being a failure five years ago to being given the highest score ever in modern times by the Police Inspectorate.
Humberside Police are rated Outstanding in six out of nine categories by the Inspectorate of His Majesty’s Police, Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS).
Humberside Chief Constable Lee Freeman said one of his radical reforms was to buy officers time to fight crime by reducing the amount of mental health work done by the police that was better managed by health professionals.Read:Man stabbed and hit with a baseball bat in Sankey Valley Park
He said it was also best for those experiencing a mental health crisis to be cared for by people with adequate medical training. “If you slip off the sidewalk and break your ankle, you don’t end up in a police cell or in a police car. Why should it be any different if you’re having a mental health crisis?” he said.
The Inspectorate agreed, and in its report today, found patients were receiving better treatment, and the police had freed up resources.
Humberside Police pioneered the strategy, which saw them give the health service a year’s notice that they would no longer spend hours sitting with patients who had a mental health crisis or routinely take people to hospital.
The scheme – called Right Care, Right Person – is attracting national attention. Several forces, including the Metropolitan Police, are considering it, with its commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, wanting to reduce time lost by officers dealing with work that must be done by other services.Read:Man in his 20s seriously injured after car hits a tree
“We don’t have to wait for legislation or ministerial strategies. We can help ourselves,” said Freeman, who has been chief of police since 2017.
Freeman said he maintained good relations with health services after initially playing “rough ball”, where practitioners agreed that experts – not police officers – should look after people with health needs. He also managed to recover 1,100 officer hours per month – 7% of the total. “We’ve kept the line, and that has resulted in partners in the mental health trusts, the ambulance service and the NHS spending more money.”
The inspectorate said: “An appropriate care, right person approach means that vulnerable people receive the support they need from the right organisation. The force has experts within its control room to support these vulnerable people until help arrives.”
Today Humberside scored a record six out of nine outstanding grades, and no force has achieved it since the Inspectorate began issuing grades. It was rated good in two areas and adequate in one.
Freeman said the principles driving change are the same for small, medium and large forces. “Changing a culture takes longer than you think,” he said.Read:Jeni Larmour inquest hears student express “guilt” over sniffing ketamine with teenager
He cautioned against a top-down approach to commanders who dream and dismiss edicts, instead asking staff and officers for their thoughts. “I took charge when employees were angry, felt unsupported, unlistened and undervalued. They felt that leadership was doing things for them, not with them.
“Just yelling at people and telling them they’re not good enough doesn’t work.”
Freeman said the culture change has seen officers willing to call out hateful or bad behavior by colleagues and “walk through walls” to improve crime control. He said, “Sergeants and inspectors work for the benefit of the staff, not the other way around. It is high support and high challenge. We expect them to go the extra mile for the public.”
Freeman said there was now a real police effort in the neighborhood. Stations that closed at the height of the cuts have reopened and local officers monitor areas and are rarely chauffeured. He said communities raised problems and saw them dealt with.
Humberside is a rare success story for British police, which have been plagued by a series of scandals and concerns about their effectiveness. A total of six forces in England and Wales have been placed into special procedures by the Inspectorate of Police – a record number – with fears a seventh may soon join them.