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Tuesday, 23 February 2010
I have taken this picture from an interesting and amusing blog site that can found here about CCTV in London.
From my understanding of George Orwell, unlike what the picture suggests, I think he would probably approve of CCTV in London. It is a very British thing, ironically ineffectual in an almost Monty Pythonest sort of way, but benignly comforting to all but the most paranoid. It is not who is watching you, it is why they are watching over you that counts. It may only have a marginal effect on volume crime but it one of the best weapons against serious crime and terrorism. The Hamas murder in Dubai is a good example.
So George Orwell was an enigma, perhaps CCTV is too..............
Monday, 22 February 2010
I ended my last post commenting that I should try to keep data about the the public's demand data the police activity data separate. In this post I have shown a table and graph of the total number of incidents recorded on the MPS CAD system each month in 2009. The table and graph also shows how the police treated these calls. The most urgent are graded "I" for immediate and shown in green in the graph. As I have discussed these calls have a target time of 12 minutes. The calls that are of lesser urgency are graded "S" for soon and have a target time of one hour. These are shown in orange on the graph. The red "E" calls are extended calls, where it is known that police will not be able to attend within the hour. "R" calls (blue) are calls that are referred to non-response police officers and staff to deal with. "P"calls are those that originate from the police themselves. An MPS wide policy decision was implemented in April 2009 removing the use of the P grade. This can be seen very clearly in the graph where the purple colour stops.
Monday, 15 February 2010
Friday, 12 February 2010
- Perception is a global view about the level and nature of crime and disorder
- Assessment is where that perception is applied personally in a way that the risk of being a victim of crime can be avoided or mitigated
- Worry occurs if the risk cannot be avoided or mitigated
Confidence in Police is linked to people's perception of crime and disorder and how effective and efficient police are at dealing with it. Generally people accept that it is their responsibility not police to assess the dangers and act sensibly. Worry is the negative aspect of fear of crime and occurs mainly where people live or have to go - places and times people cannot avoid. This the reason why prioritising residential crimes is a correct policy.
How does communication, such as, Internet crime mapping fit in? Fear of crime spirals out of proportion to reality when perception of crime and disorder is wrong. This can lead to inappropriate crime prevention and unnecessary worry. Police, by providing information allows more accurate perceptions of the crime and disorder problems leading to positive crime prevention and worry outcomes. This, if done correctly, leads to the public feeling that the police are on their side working to tackle the problems that affect them, thus increasing confidence in their police.
Thursday, 11 February 2010
- Analysis is carried out on different scales. Even though the underlying data is exactly the same the visualisation of that data will produce different results depending on the scale used. This dataset is a good example because grid squares that are on the opposite ends of the graph are geographically next to each other. This means that doubling the scale will amalgamate these squares producing an aggregate result. Halving the scale (if the dataset will allow -not in this case) will potentially give more definition but it will aggregate the problem of low numbers that is part of this dataset (see below).
- The location of the grid square frame is arbitrary. If the grid frame is moved in any direction the results will be slightly different especially if a grid gains or loses a high street.
- The problem of low numbers is a simple concept to do with probability best illustrated by an example. When you flip a properly weighted coin you know there is a 50% chance that it will land heads up and a 50% chance it will land tails up. But if you only flip the coin say three times it is not that unusual for the three results being all heads or all tails. The probability of this happening 4, 5, 6 etc in a row dramatically reduces with each flip. Therefore relying on low numbers to make inferences or hypotheses is unwise.
The problem of scale and grid are unavoidable but the problem of low numbers is simple, just get rid of them from the analysis. I have not done so up to now because of a public perception of the police reason. I am a member of the Automobile Association (AA) for which I pay about £150 a year for a premier service, anything they offer - homestart, breakdown, roadside relay, etc. I should get. I have been a member since 1988. In the early days when I had older and mechanically unreliable cars I use to call them two or three times a year and I was generally pleased with service I got because I was getting good value for money. I have called the AA only twice in the last ten years (I think) on both occasions I have been unsatisfied with the response I got. On the second occasion they refused to come out for a Homestart because they were overstretched even though I probably paid over £1000 into their coffers for that one call. (That's weird I feel an emotional release now I got that out in the open!). Coming back to the point, low numbers are very important to the police. These are the calls they really should be getting right.
This where I come back to the confidence in the police measure. What is of concern is if the blue squares are residential locations then the very people that they wish to provide a premium service to (see the end of my previous post) are the ones who are apparently getting second best.
Wednesday, 10 February 2010
Tuesday, 9 February 2010
This post continues with the analysis of response times for CAD immediate incident calls on a London borough. This analysis is carried out with the purpose of discovering geographical variations in police performance, trying to discover the reasons for these variations and trying to link them to confidence in the police.
The second cluster I have selected are those grid squares where the average response time is greater than 10 minutes. My initial hypothesis for this cluster is that the grid squares contain mainly residential areas which are off the main roads, in places that police do not so regularly patrol and locations that police are less familiar with. For instance, an address that is flat 1032a, Sampson House, Peabody Estate will inevitably have a longer average response time than the Red Lion Public House, High Street.
There are two grid squares that meet the criterion of the first and second clusters. Using the data presented so far I would suspect that any residents in living in these grid squares will have a higher level of dissatisfaction with police performance than residents of other grid squares.
Monday, 8 February 2010
Recent research into confidence in the police in the UK has centred around police priorities, style and competence. This is a reminder that honesty and the correct use of authority are factors that are also very important. The best the MPS can hope for is a score draw in this case.
At least the MPS have avoided a nightmare scenario of Commander Dizaei being found not guilty for a second time on serious charges and expecting to resume his highly privileged and powerful policing role. It reminds me of the fact that up to 9 million people are having to undergo criminal records checks if they work or their social lives involve interacting with children outside the family environment following the Bichard enquiry (see my previous post here on this subject). Decisions are made with reference to relevant intelligence, allegations, discontinued cases and acquittals. The public would be reassured I am sure if they thought the same standards applied to police employees with regard to matters to do with dishonesty, corruption and abuse of authority.
Friday, 5 February 2010
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.
- 1980-2000 policing performance is primarily centred on detecting and reducing recorded crime and responding quickly to calls from the public.
- 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.
- 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.
- 2001 this mismatch between police priorities and the public's needs and expectations is identified by the police and termed the Reassurance Gap.
- The potential consequences of allowing the Reassurance Gap to continue to widen hits the senior policy makers and strategists between the eyes.
- 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.
- 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.
- 2008 the overarching performance indicator of Increasing the Public's Confidence in the Police is introduced in England and Wales.
- 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.
Wednesday, 3 February 2010
Hopefully to a large extent the above figure, that I have devised as part of my way of understanding and explaining fear of crime, is self-explanatory.
It helps to explain the Reassurance Gap that I have referred to in previous posts and leads me onto dissecting the elements that make-up the fear of crime which I will tackle in later posts.
Tuesday, 2 February 2010
The Metropolitan Police Service latest advertising campaign is about foot patrols - "walking is working" - a double meaning positive message reminiscent of negative message "Labour is not Working" that started the Saatchi fortune back in 1979. The posters for campaign were the subject of a previous post.
Apparently there is a protest on Facebook led by Police Community Support Officers and some Police Officers against single patrols. On the basis, as far as I can see, that patrolling on your own is by its nature unsafe. Here is the story in the Evening Standard.
This is where I am going to swing the lamp and start talking personally. In my police career I have worked in some of the thought to be more dangerous places in London -for instance Hackney Borough and those thought to be less dangerous - for instance Hillingdon Borough and a lot of the time I patrolled on my own. I am a supporter of single patrols with a number of provisos.
Firstly why am I a supporter of single foot patrols? The reasons are quite complex and I do not have the time to spell them out in detail here but can be summed up by saying that it makes young inexperienced officers stand on their own two feet and interact with the public on their own without having a safety net of a colleague. Patrol becomes a more community interactive exercise where personal tactics and strategies to detect and prevent crime, and solving problems are devised. Patrolling in pairs can become a stroll with a friend.
What are the provisos? The major proviso is that there must be enough other police officers available to come to the aid of a single patrolling officer when s/he needs help. As a supervisor I would more likely double people up if we were short on parade than if we had the full crew for that reason. That means not dispensing with response vehicles to allow more single foot patrols.
The second proviso is the training, skills, expectations and physical fitness of those employed by the police. Policing, especially police patrols, by its nature is not suited to everyone. It could be argued that people who in their personal lives would never consider walking in their own neighbourhood after dark on their own are not suited to police patrol work. Unfortunately such people are employed by the police for patrol work, so it is not surprising if they expect to be accompanied in their patrols.
My last point is one of perception and fear of crime. It comes back to a conversation I had with an American police officer who wanted to convince residents of a housing estate in a city in the United States that he policed that the crime levels had fallen sufficiently for them to have a lower fear of crime and start frequenting and enjoying the communal places on the estate. I said "Do your officers patrol the estate on their own, or only in numbers?" He said "I patrol it on my own but the other officers refuse to." I said "You cannot expect the residents to think the estate is safe, if your officers do not think so. Police have to take the lead, when resident see single patrols they might start believing you."