§ Mr. Denham
[holding answer 25 January 2002]: The Police Act 1996 requires Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary to inspect and report on the efficiency and effectiveness of every police force in England and Wales. 862W Where an inspection finds that a force is not efficient or effective, or is at risk of becoming so, the Home Secretary is empowered to require specific measures to be taken by the police authority.
Under the Local Government Act 1999 police authorities are required to secure continuous improvement in the way in which their functions are exercised. Where the Secretary of State is satisfied that an authority is failing in its duties under the Act, he may direct the authority to take such action as he considers necessary.
The White Paper "Policing a New Century" (CM 5326) set out the Government's intention to introduce a National Policing Plan, three year plans for police authorities, and a framework of Regulations, codes of practice and guidance. These and other measures are currently before Parliament in the Police Reform Bill. The new Standards Unit will also have a key role in performance and spreading best practice in the light of the proposed changes.