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Friday, 5 February 2010

Confidence in the Police and Geography

I cannot over-state how important the overarching performance indicator of increasing the public's confidence in the police is to the police!!! Now I have got that sentence off my chest I can breath easier.

I will briefly explain why this performance indicator is now ruling the roost, how it changing the way in which we are being policed in London and what it has to do with crime, fear and mapping.

There is a history which I will list and simplify.
  1. 1980-2000 policing performance is primarily centred on detecting and reducing recorded crime and responding quickly to calls from the public.
  2. This led to police patrols being in vehicles rather than on foot and along with intelligence and investigation units, only treating recorded crimes as priorities.
  3. Even though police were successful in achieving their performance targets the public was feeling unsafe, fear of crime was rising and confidence in the police was in jeopardy.
  4. 2001 this mismatch between police priorities and the public's needs and expectations is identified by the police and termed the Reassurance Gap.
  5. The potential consequences of allowing the Reassurance Gap to continue to widen hits the senior policy makers and strategists between the eyes.
  6. They realised that if confidence in the police kept falling this would lead to non-cooperation with the police and the criminal justice system, lack of compliance with the law and ultimately communities and individuals taking policing into their own hands without reference to the legal system of the country.
  7. 2003 Reassurance Policing was introduced to address fear of crime by introducing dedicated foot patrol community policing teams. In about 2005 this style of policing was rebranded as Neighbourghood Policing.
  8. 2008 the overarching performance indicator of Increasing the Public's Confidence in the Police is introduced in England and Wales.
  9. 2010 "Walking is Working" and single patrols are at the forefront of the Metropolitan Police Service publicity campaign.

Confidence in Police is measured by independent market research type companies by questioning a small sample of the population of London. These people are asked about their experiances of policing, crime and disorder in their local area. This means that local police are now most concerned about crimes that happen to adult local residents not to people that live elsewhere.

The priority of crimes types are now judged on this basis. Residential Burglaries become the number one priority with anything that happens in the home not far behind, for instance domestic violence and disputes. Similarly antisocial behaviour affecting residents goes up the hierachy.

This, perhaps is not an entirely predicted outcome of the confidence measure, is happily in my view positive due to the nature of the fear of crime. I will explain this in a later post. What I want to leave you with is the thought that policing is becoming even more geographical with this emphasis on what is local. This is a fertile area for mapping and spatial analysis. Again more thoughts on this later.

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