Critical issues in policing

Critical Issues In Policing And Crime Investigation

Due to an increased concern regarding the relationship between the Police and the public in the community of Glamville, the implementation of new policing methods must be considered in order to effectively create and maintain a cohesive relationship between the authorities and the Glamville public in an attempt to efficaciously maintain crime and disorder in the area.

In order to find an appropriate method of controlling public disorder, the benefits and drawbacks of three modern policing methods; Community Policing, Reassurance Policing and Neighbourhood Policing, will be analysed with the prospect of its successful implementation producing positive Police/Public relations and a subsequent reduction of crime in the Glamville area.

The incentive for Community Policing lies strongly with the large scale urban unrest seen in both Britain and the USA seemingly emanating from heavy handed policing strategies which were highly insensitive to the wants and needs of the public, especially minority groups.

What is meant by the term 'Community' is often largely ambiguous. It is sometimes treated as an ideal to be aspired to and sometimes a descriptive term to refer to a given population. (Newburn & Newground, 2008).

In the USA, Trojanowicz and Bucqueroux (1990: xiii-xv) describe Community Policing as both a philosophy and organisational strategy to allow community residents and police to work together in new ways to solve problems of crime, fear of crime, physical and social disorder and neighbourhood decay. They indicate that this involves police and community support officers adopting proactive roles to engage in a problem solving manner with the community and other agencies in a decentralised manner. (Trojanowicz & Bucqueroux 1990, cited in Tilley 2003).

The Community Policing model looks to encourage the visualisation of the Police as a service rather than a 'force' by promoting strong two way communication between the local citizenry and the police (Newburn & Neyroud, 2008).

In Britain the Community Policing model has not seen as popular implementation as in the USA, where “Community Policing, or variations of it, has become the national mantra of the American Police” (Greene 2000:301, cited in Newburn & Neyroud 2008). However significant shifts towards community focused policing strategies were seen in the 1970's when John Alderson (chief Contstable of Devon and Cornwall) argued that traditional 'authoritarian' policing was proving inadequate and inappropriate in a plural, 'libertarian society' with increasing levels of crime. A different, community model of policing was needed (Alderson 1977, 1979, cited in Tilley 2003). This necessity for a public focused policing strategy was brought to light by the controversy surrounding Lord Scarmans report on the Brixton riots of 1981. Scarman reported that thepolicing standard was far from satisfactory, and was especially critical of the 'heavy-handed' Swamp 81 street saturation project in which large numbers of police officers patrolling the streets using heavy implementation of stop and search powers were employed in an attempt to 'detect and arrest burglars and robbers' (Scarman 1982, cited in Newburn 2007). Scarman also indicated that a major contributing factor to the disturbances was a 'lack of communication' with the community.

This led to a more widespread application of Community Policing models. A common approach, such as implemented in Brixton following the Scarman report, is the introduction of community consultative groups. These involve regular meetings between the Police and the public, regarding problems and issues and what should be done to avoid them. Other community related methods may include regular newsletters, advisory groups, youth clubs and neighbourhood watch initiatives.

Sadly, in practice, Community Policing has faced many drawbacks in Britain. Although in theory there is substantial support for Community Policing from politicians, the media and the public alike, and it presents a great number of potential benefits, the practical implementation of the model has presented many difficulties. In a theory that must involve close partnership between the Police and the public there is much resistance from both parties. Regarding the public, history has shown poor communication and involvement from communities, especially in areas of economic hardship or strong ethnic diversity. Also, as the public already show fleeting trust in the Police they may show unwillingness to work alongside them. Thus creating the most significant problem Community Policing has to face, it is ineffective unless the whole community is willing to take part. Due to the varied composition of the Glamville community this may mean application may not be accepted by the public. Regarding the Police themselves there may be resistance among officers on the street who may resent the roles of civilians in police operations, or may be 'set in their ways'.

Due to the problems seen in the actual implementation of the model, Community Policing has come to be regarded as more something Police should aspire to than an actual description of policing practice (Newburn, 2007).

However, amidst an array of problems, the concept of Community Policing has not been completely unsuccessful. Its unmistakable benefits have lead to the construction of more applicable theories with the ideas of Neighbourhood and Reassurance Policing.

Overall, the concept of Neighborhood Policing is very similar to that of Community Policing. It seeks to increase interaction with the public in defined geographical areas (Newburn & Neyroud 2008). However the focus of Neighbourhood Policing is to be accessible to everyone within the area, in recognition that individuals can belong to several 'communities'.

Whereas the Community Policing model looks to build relations with the public as a whole, the Neighbourhood model focus's on specific neighbourhoods, tackling local priorities. The main intention being to send out a signal to the local public, especially in deprived areas that something is being done in their area. Whereas the Community model implies that crime reduction would follow increased police legitimacy through whole-force community relations (Tilley 2003) the Neighbourhood model looks to deal directly with small localities in an effort to create a mutual relationship. This may involve an increase in foot patrol (although avoiding he uses of 'heavy-handed' tactics such as stop and search), more Community Support Officers (CSO's), or simply dealing more effectively with small local problems such as youths causing disturbances on street corners. This concept somewhat reflects the idea of the 'Broken Windows' theory, in the way that if these small problems are dealt with effectively, then the larger problems in the area will show a decrease. As with Community Policing there is also much emphasis in the Neighbourhood Policing model for policing to be delivered in a decentralised manner.

Reassurance Policing is also a responsive approach to policing but aims to increase public relations with the police not only by targeting public problems, but by actually making the community feel safer. The main priority being to target visible crime in areas, and increasing visibility of police presence with the aim to reassure people that the police are 'on their side'.

US academic Charles Bahn proposed that that an important function of the police is 'citizen reassurance - the feeling of security and safety that a citizen experiences when he sees a police officer or patrol car nearby (Bahn 1974, cited in Newburn & Neyroud 2008). The importance of this was shown when during the 1990's , even though statistically crime was falling, the perception remained among the public is that crime was on the rise (Newburn. 2007).

As the Police and Community Together (PACT) meetings in the Glamville area call for a more visible police presence in the area, Reassurance Policing is seemingly the road to go down. However, due to the varied communities all habituating the relatively small area of Glamville it must be suspected that these meetings do not necessarily portray the whole communities view, for these reasons I believe a Neighbourhood Policing style should be implemented in order to focus on specific problems that effect the public on a day to day basis with the aspiration of dealing with the specific problems of the area leading to greater public acceptance of the Police. This should preferably be implemented through the deployment neighbourhood policing teams, and CPO's who are willing to work with the public of Glamville. This acceptance stemming from the view that the Police are doing something for the community. This strategy will hopefully lead to the community being willing to work with the police more reliably in future.

References:

Newburn