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Russell Webster

Russell Webster

Criminal Justice & substance misuse expert and author of this blog.

A social justice model of neighbourhood policing

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One of the distinguishing features of Policing for a Better Britain is the report's emphasis that the role of the police is much more than crime fighting. The report argues that policing has suffered from being a political football with policy emphasis swinging between crime control and service. The report's authors, the Independent Policing Commission, sets out its view that the mission of the police should be to:
This is the first in a series of posts on the seminal Policing for a Better Britain report.

A social justice model of neighbourhood policing

One of the distinguishing features of Policing for a Better Britain is the report’s emphasis that the role of the police is much more than crime fighting. The report argues that policing has suffered from being a political football with policy emphasis swinging between crime control and service. The report’s authors, the Independent Policing Commission, sets out its view that the mission of the police should be to:

  1. Encompass both crime prevention and the detection of crime;
  2. Encourage proactive engagement while retaining reactive emergency responding capabilities;
  3. Contribute to community cohesion while maintaining order; and
  4. Provide a local focus while safeguarding national security.

Enshrining the police’s social purpose in law

The Commission recommends that the social purpose of the police should be enshrined in law to cement a long term approach to policing and clarify exactly what we expect the police to do.

The report praises the Scottish example which accompanied the creation of a single national police service with a legal statement of purpose. Neighbourhood policing is seen as the key building block of fair and effective policing. The Commission says: [mks_boxquote align=”left” width=”610″ arrow=”0″]We need a police service that listens closely to the demands of the whole community while focusing resources where evidence suggests they are most needed and can do most good[/mks_boxquote]

The commission goes on to recommend that legislation should be backed up by a set of minimum standards for local policing . [mks_separator style=”double” height=”2″]

Minimum Standards

The commission goes on to suggest an initial set of minimum standards to which all citizens should be entitled and against which local police services would be monitored.

  • guaranteed minimum level of neighbourhood policing;
  • Emergency response or an explanation of why this demand will not be met or can be met by other means;
  • Requests to the police for assistance or reporting a crime will be met by a commitment to appropriate response times;
  • Reported crime will be investigated or an explanation given of why this is not possible;
  • Victims will be regularly updated as to the progress of the investigation; and
  • Those coming into contact with the police whether they be victims, witnesses, offenders or complainants, will be treated with fairness and dignity.

You will see the emphasis on fairness and transparency and a desire for a universal service. The Commission’s recommendations conflict with the recent statement by Greater Manchester’s Chief Constable, Sir Peter Fahy, that 60% crimes are not investigated. Although, clearly, Sir Peter’s announcement was an attempt to be honest about the realities of policing in 2013.

What would be your top six minimum standards for the future of policing?

Please use the comments section below to give your views.

 

Next Tuesday’s post continues this series of posts and looks at the Steven’s report’s emphasis on creating effective partnerships.

 

Related posts you might like:

Can we afford the police service we need?

One of the difficulties in getting a more efficient police force that spends a larger proportion of its funds on policing rather than administration is getting rid of an excessively bureaucratic culture. The Stevens report treads a fine line here as some its remedies, to my mind, seem to imply introducing a number of new systems which will struggle to streamline procurement and cut waste.

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Do we need a national police service?

The report asks how we reconcile the need for police services to be locally accountable while facing up to the fact that the current structure of 43 separate forces in England and Wales is no longer cost effective, nor equipped to meet the challenges of organised and cross-border crime.
This is a challenge which also faces the modern probation service.

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Raising police standards and tackling misconduct

This seems to be a particularly bold and radical approach to addressing two separate problems. The Stevens Report makes a very strong recommendation that this new ISPC should be entirely independent of the police service. This seems to me to be absolutely right in terms of the investigation of serious complaints. However, although the inspection function would benefit from a broader perspective, surely the intimate knowledge of police officers is absolutely key to make inspections a helpful and constructive exercise, rather than just a bureaucratic requirement?

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Building a police profession

This approach clearly brings benefits to police officers in terms of elevating their professional status and celebrating the high standards already embraced by many. The flipside of the coin is that there would be much more openness about the inner workings of the police, particularly in terms of misconduct and press relations.

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A new deal for the police

The report acknowledges the Winsor review, supports some aspects of it and rejects others. It criticises the way that Winsor has been handled and says their needs to be much more engagement and discussion with police officers themselves. It’s attitude to Winsor is summarised as…

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