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Notts Police Commissioner accused of missing problems which put force in special measures

Police and Crime Commissioner Caroline Henry , who is responsible for monitoring and scrutinising force performance, was criticised by councillors for not spotting the problems sooner.

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Nottinghamshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has faced accusations she failed to spot problems soon enough after inspectors placed Notts Police in special measures.

His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) raised serious concerns last week over how the force runs investigations and handles victims.

Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner Caroline Henry (Con), who is responsible for monitoring and scrutinising force performance, was criticised by councillors for not spotting the problems sooner.

She said she was “shocked” and “disappointed” to learn the force would be put special measures, known as ‘Engage status’.

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She hoped the force could get out in under a year, and said Chief Constable Kate Meynell was already making improvements.

She defended not spotting the issues earlier, saying inspectors had gone “under the bonnet” of police operations in a way she couldn’t.

The commissioner told a Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Panel meeting on Monday (March 18): “I am confident that we won’t stay in Engage for a long time – some improvements are already changes in place. I will be stepping up how I’m scrutinising the force.

“These issues were first brought to my attention on February 14 when we were debriefed after the inspection. They are operational factors I haven’t been able to see as PCC.”

During the meeting, she also revealed that she was surprised by the special measures decision, as inspectors hadn’t given any early indication.

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Criticism by the inspectors of investigations and supporting victims was described by Mrs Henry as a “software issue” related to officers not using police systems properly.

The panel urged more transparency, which Mrs Henry said would be provided in a closed-door briefing.

Inspectors found a backlog of 609 domestic abuse incidents which were still waiting for risk assessments, and some incidents had been closed without victims being told.

Councillor David Ellis (Lab) raised questions about how closely the force was being monitored.

“You say you will be ‘stepping up scrutiny’ – we’ve heard this before after the last HMI report in 2022,” he said.

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“You’ve not been scrutinising – performance has deteriorated on your watch. How can have confidence in what you’re telling us?”

Despite assurances that improvements would be made, Councillor Paul Taylor (Lab) said: “I’m getting concerned that the report is being taken too lightly – it’s a really serious issue for people of Nottinghamshire.”

Councillor John Wilmott (Ashfield Ind) said it was “mind-boggling” that problems weren’t sorted at an earlier time.

Notts Police must now produce an improvement plan and has been set a deadline of September to make a series of changes.

The inspectorate has confirmed the report isn’t linked to the June 2023 Nottingham attacks by Valdo Calocane. The force’s response to this incident is being reviewed separately.

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