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Neighbourhood Policing And Beneficial Programs Criminology Essay

In recent years the UK government has been focused on advancing police service under the Public Service Reform agenda. As the funding towards police service had increased, so did the expectation of improved performance and greater accountability of policing. In particular, the government wanted a change of the way police performance is measured and so that it reflects the priorities of the communities it served and their views about the policing they have received. [1] 

Neighbourhood Policing is a flexible and reactive programme combining several policing projects into one service provided to local communities everywhere around England and Wales. It is delivered by the Neighbourhood Policing Teams consisting of police officers as well as Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs), Special Constables, local authority wardens, volunteers and other partners. Around the country Neighbourhood Policing may be known under other similar names, but remains the same service. NP consists of and its purpose is to provide local communities with four key components which are

Access - to local policing services through a named point of contact

Influence - over policing priorities in their neighbourhood

Interventions - joint action with partners & the public

Answers - sustainable solutions & feedback on what is being done

NPT’s work to publicise how to get in touch with them, research local issues and decide on their priority, organise solutions and deliver those together with partners and residents, and finally to deliver feedback on the actions taken and receive feedback from residents. [2] 

For the purpose of this text neighbourhood, in the context of Neighbourhood Policing, needs to be defined. For someone who lives in the country neighbourhood may be completely different to what it is for someone who lives in the urban area of a town or a city. For one it may be the whole of the county they live in and for others it may be just the political ward their house is in. Thankfully, the government has decided to leave the decision of defining a neighbourhood, in conjunction with the police and local authorities, up to the communities themselves, thus enabling the residents to cooperate with the authorities by giving them a voice to decide on what they consider as their neighbourhood. Hence, neighbourhood is not merely a political area or group of houses. What comprises it differs everywhere around the country. It varies with the locality and depends on many social factors, crime statistics, housing information and local employment. [3] 

NP was introduced by the government in 2005 following the release of ‘Building Communities, Beating Crime’ document which contained the proposed improvements and strategies towards building a better police service and ensuring its effectiveness. This was also when the public have received own Community Beat Officers, at least one per electoral ward. In addition to CBO’s NP uses partners as well as the rest of policing relations such as special constables. NP was introduced as a policing aid tool used towards fighting crime and disorder. [4] 

NP deals with crime and disorder intelligently by building healthy relationships between the police and the community. This relationship aims to be strong through cooperation rather than just with the consent from the community. It has a logic that - the best results can be delivered if local residents and partners are involved themselves in the solutions of problems in the community. [5] 

In the past all policing was done by means of “reactive” method, where the police would respond to problems and deal with them after the incident. This approach did not rely on any strategy or examination of potential problems. This of course, was not ideal for public confidence in the neighbourhood, when all the incidents occurred with nothing to prevent them even though they were dealt with after they did. In other words, little was done in advance for prevention. Today NP includes three modern approaches to policing. These are community policing, problem-oriented, and intelligence led policing. These heavily rely on strategy and forward thinking, thus focus on prevention of crime and disorder. All three approaches play an important part in NP, however there is a large emphasis on problem-oriented policing. [6] 

The main reason for introduction of community policing, pioneered in the 1970’s, were reports that substantial sections of communities had bad relations with the police and no trust between the parties. With the crime rates on the increase greater involvement with the community became essential in order to reduce the distance and instil public trust and satisfaction with the police service. Existing dissatisfaction with the rigid approach towards problems and no close relationship effected in no incentive to associate or help the police. In contrast, by building a close relationship and gaining trust police are able to achieve cooperation and response when dealing with problems. [7] 

Problem-oriented policing stems from the great demand on police due to the re-occurring crimes and addition of new crime forms. As well as the limitation of resources available to the police, which need to be spent in most effective way possible. This approach seriously values community concern and acts upon it. It employs analysis of problems which can then be addressed at ‘their pinch points’. By analysing the problem a strategy is formed which is then used to deal with the problem effectively by tackling its cause with an arranged method. This approach was pioneered by Metropolitan police in the early 1980s but became more significant in the early new century and is still used today. [8] 

Intelligence-led policing sprung out from the inability to prevent reoccurring and systematic small crime as well as from the need to tackle organised crime. Police raids on known crime organisations however large or small were rare and solely relied on opportunity rather than long built up information. Intelligence-led policing employs a pro-active approach where the target is the criminal not the crime. It works because of the effective sourcing assembling and analysis of intelligence about criminals. Criminals are then targeted with the maximum effect ultimately reducing the reoccurrence of a particular crime and in better situation disrupting an organised network. The most influential of pioneering projects adopting this approach was used in Kent, which gave birth to the NIM. [9] 

The following dissertation will consist of four main chapters focusing on the four key components of NP and look in detail into the core structure of NP and associated programmes, how it is delivered by the local NPT’s, how it is measured and whether it is working, results in terms of current success, and future improvement aspirations.

CHAPTER 1 Access

The key of Access is to have a named point of contact to policing or community safety service. NPTs are dedicated to a specific geographical area or community of interest and are locally accountable. Teams need to be visible, accessible, locally known, and knowledgeable. [10] Plain visibility of passing patrol is not enough for access. NPT’s must engage in getting to know the residents of their community by direct contact. Contact can be made by telephone, at an arranged meeting or through the internet. Once relationship is established, the community will cooperate and report their concerns. Community concerns and reported problems are what drives NPT and what forms their agenda. [11] 

Each NPT consists of several members head of which is a designated Police Constable who is assigned to that particular neighbourhood and is not involved in other police duties except in emergency circumstances. They are easily accessible by the residents via all the methods as their contacts are publicised around the neighbourhood and on the internet. These constables are also familiar with their locality which helps their duties. Their duties are to come up with solutions for local concerns and organise meetings with community members and partners. [12] 

As mentioned above, the NPTs delivering neighbourhood policing include so called extended policing family. They are not solely formed from paid uniformed police personnel and special constables. The need of extensive access to NP has promoted the need to use other personnel. A large proportion of these personnel are PCSOs who were introduced by the government in 2002 when the funds were made available to employ them as part of the Police Reform Act. PCSOs posses powers of traditional police constables, that they can search and arrest those committing a crime. PCSOs have two main functions in NP. Firstly, they facilitate extensive access as they patrol and directly engage with the residents, as well as provide visual reassurance of policing and a visual deterrent for small crime and anti-social behaviour. Secondly, PCSOs act as primary response officers to small incidents thus saving some resources by refraining from sending constables at first instance. [13] 

In addition to PCSOs and constables visual presence is also provided by the neighbourhood wardens who work in liaison with police personnel as part of NP, whilst being employed by the local councils. Neighbourhood wardens provide uniformed semi-official presence and can be approached by the residents with their issues concerning well-being of the residential area just like they would approach a PCSO or a constable. Their general duty is to improve the quality of life of the community. Neighbourhood wardens improve policing of the neighbourhood, whilst being funded by the home office which indirectly saves money for the police. [14] 

In some places voluntary neighbourhood watch add to the policing of the community. Their task, similarly to wardens, is to deter anti-social behaviour and ensure environmental well being of a community. Although these have not been widely spread around the country, wherever they have they add to the visual policing presence which helps reassurance of the residents. [15] 

Partners and Communities Together or PACT meetings are an important part of NP. These are meetings organised by Basic Command Unit (such as the Lancashire Constabulary), usually run in the local community centre or similar venue on regular basis. PACT meetings emerged from The National Community Safety and Building Communities, Beating Crime government publications whose intention was to ensure communities’ full involvement in fighting crime. Carried out monthly, PACT meetings enable residents to voice their concerns and problems, as well as propose solutions by talking to their local NPT officers and council coordinators who are required to attend. The focus of these meetings is to establish priorities for improving the quality of life of each community. After the meeting the partners then tackle the problems in order of their priority and report on progress at the next meeting. One of the challenges that BCU will face is to ensure that the change of staff is minimal. As residents of the community get to know their NPT members by attending PACT meetings and through other direct contact it is crucial to ensure continuity of staff. As the trust builds, old faces are preferred to new ones. [16] In larger areas PACT meetings are rotated around several districts or villages to ensure that all areas are covered and residents have access to a PACT meeting. [17] 

In addition to PACT meetings, Police Meetings can be arranged at time when a concern arises. This is when a member of a community contacts a member of his NPT who arranges a meeting to discuss the problem.

It is safe to say that all neighbourhoods are different from one area to another. In different neighbourhoods access may need to be delivered in different forms. Fundamental trait of NP is to cater and adapt to the community it serves so that it delivers best results. As a result, just like the priorities, access must be flexible and adaptive too. It largely depends on the community it serves. Elderly community is less likely to use the internet for communication or may have mobility problems attending meetings, therefore in-person access or easy telephone access is made available. In other ethnical communities language may be the barrier, therefore access in that language is required. [18] 

CHAPTER 2 Influence

General aim of NP is to build trust and confidence in the community and reduce crime and disorder. These are sought to be delivered using three mechanisms: police visibility, community involvement in identifying local priorities, and problem-solving in conjunction with the community and their partners and other agencies. The way NPTs work will be influenced by the BCU which will aim to work in accordance with the National Policing Pledge and priorities and by the community of the neighbourhood itself.

National Priorities

The National Policing Pledge emerged in 2008 from a government report of initiative to reinstate public faith in the police service. The pledge gives a minimum standard of service provided by the police and is a set list of promises which all 43 police forces in England and Wales have made to the public. [19] 

The list comprises of ten promises which are fundamentally about the accessibility of NPTs, how the police service responds to emergency calls and deal with enquiries, and how the police service takes constructive measures. The pledge is essentially the bread and butter of policing across all neighbourhoods and are things which should be aimed at for improvement. The implementation of the pledge has shown continuous determination to look for efficient methods to improve the police service. Moreover, NPTs work towards letting the residents of the community know by direct contact what the pledge means to them instilling public confidence. Every police service seeks to ensure that the ten promises listed in the pledge are delivered to the communities. The pledge is therefore a useful set of priorities which will help to improve public faith in the police service. [20] 

Current national priorities consist are

Local Priorities

NP provides the residents with the ability to influence on how policing is carried out, specifically how they influence the priorities of NP. The difficulty for NP is that the community priorities are often competing with National, Force and BCU priorities. This creates a struggle for community influence. Thus, public confidence and satisfaction with the NP and policing service overall is directly reflected by how greatly the community influences these priorities. It is therefore an aspect of NP which must be measured to indicate its effectiveness. [21] 

Appearing straightforward this is sometimes complicated by the confliction between the national and local priorities.

The national evaluation of influence of NP is measured by collecting data from all 43 police forces and their 244 BCUs in England and Wales through surveys. These surveys asked the residents about the implementation of NP and how it brought any change. The results were used to create implementation scores for each area. The modelling techniques compared outcome changes in the BCUs and forces after neighbourhood policing had been implemented (‘treatment areas’), to changes in those areas that had not yet been implemented (‘control areas’). The national evaluation only looked at changes in implementation and outcomes, comparing the six-month period immediately before implementation started in the Pathfinder BCU (April to September 2005) with two six-month periods afterwards (October to March 2006, and April 2006 to September 2006). This is a relatively short timescale in which to affect change, and covered the period before force-wide implementation was fully underway. [22] 

Influence of NP is measured in

CHAPTER 3 Intervention

NP largely bases its operation on the principle of ‘problem solving’. This principle was pioneered by an American professor Herman Goldstein in 1979. He criticised how the police fell short on aiming to reduce the problems, tackling them in order to prevent them, and were rather preoccupied with improving response efficiency. Goldstein introduced an approach to tackling policing problems and called it ‘problem-oriented policing’. He later devised characteristics of a police service which is problem-oriented. [23] 

Following this approach, NP is characterised by the following qualities and practices. NP focuses on the wide range of community problems that the residents voice over to the police. [24] These problems may range from anti-social behaviour by youths in a particular area of the neighbourhood to vandalism and drug use in a poorly lit park at night.

NP then concentrates on efficient eradication of problems and works pro-actively to identify and handle them, [25] meaning that NP looks for solutions which solve and bring closure to the problem so that the problem hopefully does not reoccur. A simplest example for this could be a group of youths causing nuisance down an alley disturbing house residents in the evening hours. NPT may direct the local council to install gates to set up authorised access only to the alley. This way not only the council pays for the problem but it also solves the problem, rather than having police to react to move on the youths when they are there.

NP distinguishes incidents which have common crime type into separate problems. [26] A hypothetical area may have a high number of reported theft incidents. However, theft could include various different types, for example shoplifting, theft from residents’ property or theft from the vehicles. Looking at each incident separately NP can distinguish them into separate problems which would be dealt with individually in the most effective manner possible. Thus, this would not mean simply deploying more patrols to deter such crime. Shoplifting may be tackled in conjunction with the affected businesses and the other two with the help of the residents, where feasible solutions would be sought after.

Problem-oriented approach thoroughly enquires incidents and critically examines existing responses moving away from simply analysing information to increase detection. [27] This means that NP reviews solutions to problems if the problem reoccurs with the aim to improve the response and eradicate the problem.

NP utilises a wide range of inventive custom-made solutions to solve problems, in place of depending on basic tactics of arrests and prosecution of parties. It recognises inadequacy of criminal justice system to address every type of problem. [28] Hereby the solution to a policing problem is not always prosecution of the ones involved and often does not require criminal justice system at all. As in example above, where an alley is subjected to restricted access the youths are diverged from the problem area and no arrests or direct police involvement is needed. Ideally, the solution for that problem would be taken even further, by establishing the needs of the youths and providing them with alternative activity which could mean building new facilities.

Whilst introducing custom-made solutions to problems can be helpful, NP also accepts that inventive solutions involve risk-taking. [29] This is risk is reduced due to the thorough enquiry and critical examination of the problem. Therefore, resources invested must always be justified by meticulous assessment of the problem and approved response and are covered by comprehensive accountability of the parties involved in the solution.

NP aims to identify interests of all parties to a solution of a problem and recognises the value of the response of addressing that problem. [30] This means if a problem is raised by the neighbourhood residents alone, but NPT identifies that the beneficiary of solving that problem are also local businesses, then NP will work towards involving all parties in the solution of the problem. This way the cost of resources or effort for the solution is spread between the parties. Additionally, when the problem is solved NP identifies all who benefited demonstrating usefulness and justifying the cost.

After problems have been dealt with, their custom-made solutions are thoroughly evaluated for each problem independently. [31] This ensures existing solutions continue to work. Evaluation of solutions also avoids repeating ineffective response and teaches lessons for the future, whereas good examples teach other forces. If an innovative solution is proved useful it is then likely to be widespread adopted. A simple example could be the use of a “mosquito” alarm to deter congregations of youths.

NP also aims to fully utilise police personnel skills and expertise. It will always work towards using the best people for the job and realising their potential. [32] Hereby officers with excellent communication skills are used to establish liaisons with the residents and partners, or similarly younger PSCO’s are used to approach young people who better understand their needs.

To summarise the above characteristics of NP problem-oriented approach to address neighbourhood problems it can be underpinned by four main processes, first being problem identification. Problem identification involves rigorous grouping of repeating incidents, whilst identifying the links between the incidents and an effort to establish why these incidents occur. When several incidents are linked together by their characteristics, rather than just a group of unrelated events, they become a policing problem. Vitally though, before these linked incidents are prioritised as a problem, they must comprise a concern to the relevant neighbourhood. [33] 

Second process is problem understanding. When a problem arises the first step for analysis is looking at the relevant police statistics if the problem is a crime. However, these statistics are very limited at providing analytical data. Police officers should also review existing research evidence and decide whether more is needed. Officers must also critically assess existing responses to problems. Each problem must be broken down to its core details as to who what where and when and how. This is essential to prevent different problems merging together and getting hindered by falling under the same legal definitions, such as an earlier example of theft. Separation leads to tailored response specifically tackling each problem separately with the best effect. [34] 

Third process, logically, is the development of the response. Response or a solution to the problem must be custom-made specifically for the reasons why that problem exists. However, it is not always the root cause which must be attacked to eliminate the problem. Often the efforts of the solution are focused on the facet of the problem which is most likely to be susceptible to intervention. Response should encompass a wider range of solutions other than law enforcement. NP should be about finding solutions to all problems rather than purely instilling police authority. It recognises the value of other services in bringing help for dealing with a problems and reducing crime thus aims to build partnerships. Ideally the response to a problem consists of several interventions which will have the most effect on eliminating it. [35] 

Lastly, the fourth process in problem-oriented approach is the evaluation. The newly custom-made response is monitored and assessed as to whether it is working and how well. It is further evaluated to prevent one unsuccessful response being replaced by another unsuccessful one. The extent of each evaluation differs in each case as the problems differ in all aspects. In practice, the four processes present a cycle where evaluation then feeds new problem identification in order that old responses are checked and modified for improvement. In addition to basic four processes above, problem-oriented policing is further aided by several other tools, such as SARA PAT and RAT models, all utilised in neighbourhood policing. [36] 

SARA model has been developed by Eck and Spelman with the aim to improve the practice of problem-oriented policing. Although its elements must be distinguished and their order is important, in practice they often overlap feeding back from one to another. [37] 

The first element of Scanning is essentially problem identification. It is concerned with specifying patterned incidents that are realistically solvable. Specification of problems is reached in several ways. Primary tool used for scanning are data sources such as crime records for recorded crime. Additionally police may have a record for calls for service, and letters from the community. Other supply of information can come from the local council, such as records of different types of disorder and public surveys. Local health service could provide records of unreported wounding, drug use or domestic violence. Vehicle parking services may have a record of incidents grouped by type and mode of conduct. All these records could all accumulate to a problem. [38] 

The rates of incidents are identified by looking at the local census which allows calculation of the number of the residents in the area and their demographics. The address file allows distinguishing between domestic and non-domestic incidents. The local council may improve knowledge about the problem by providing information on the land use. Nevertheless, there is often a need to conduct a dedicated data collection in the absence of it by making direct observations in the problem areas and by conducting public and stakeholder consultation. [39] 

Unfortunately each data source has its drawbacks and even consultation exercises often only represent self-selected sample, even when targeting those that are ‘hard to reach’. Obviously the best source for scanning will differ for each problem. Better analysis of a problem will follow from the efforts to critically use the data beyond police records, whilst recognising its shortcomings. [40] 

A classification of 66 types of problem has been introduced by Eck and Clarke to help specify the incidents which are then grouped into solvable problems. A problem is therefore a set of events linked together. Problems can be split into behavioural and environmental which are further divided into subtypes allowing close grouping. [41] 

Analysis

The purpose of analysis is to identify facets of the problem which are susceptible to intervention and provide a high likelihood of reducing and removing the problem. The term addressing the problem ‘from the root’ is not often used or acted upon. This is for several reasons. First of all, little is known about root causes. Secondly, things that are suspected to be the root causes are often very difficult to alter. These include pathology, moral weaknesses of individuals and social conditions. Thirdly, other facets of the problem are often more easily available for intervention, and are proven to be effective if acted upon. And lastly, ‘root causes’ are not specifically looked for in problem-oriented policing because most of them require enduring intervention. It is known that those affected by policing problems prefer the problem to be dealt with as quickly as possible rather than waiting for root interventions to take effect in the future. Analysis is part of the second process of understanding the problem so it asks questions how and why with the aim to identify methods of offending which can disabled or causes which can changed. [42] 

With the purpose of aiding analysis within the process of problem understanding additional tools PAT and RAT are used. PAT Problem-Analysis Triangle breaks down a problem into three main facets: the type of location where the problem occurs, the type of offender or person creating a problem, and the type of victim affected by the problem. The simplest use of PAT is to establish whether the problem is predominantly of one specific location or types of locations, or of one or more types of offender, or targeted at one or more type of victim. This is crucial for deciding on response as the correct facet for intervention must be chosen. Ideally, analysis further focuses on the attributes of these facets picking out which attributes are crucial to the creation of the problem. [43] 

Dealing with crime, standard PAT analysis is further evolved by Routine Activity Theory or RAT. RAT supposes that a crime constituting to a problem, occurs when three conditions occur at the same time and place. These are a potential offender, a fitting target and an absence of a competent guardian. A competent guardian does not necessarily mean a security guard for something that could be stolen by a thief, but could also range to a suitable police patrol deterring the acts of violence. This theory has shown to be useful in explaining crime patterns and problems of crime for NP. Significantly, when one of the three conditions is removed, the crime cannot take place. The victim or target and the offender elements of PAT and RAT overlap making analysis easier. [44] 

Additionally PAT is further improved by a second triangle around it carrying options of practical potential to weaken the essential conditions needed for the crime to occur. These options include introduction of a handler who is capable of stopping the behaviour of a potential offender, introduction of a location manager who can make the place safer, and introduction of a guardian, as proposed by RAT, who can protect a fitting target or a victim. All options are weighed up in the analysis and the most effective one for prevention depends on the type of problem or crime. [45] 

Other crime analysing tools are used in problem-oriented NP. A concept of hotspot attractors and generators has been in use. When a problem location has been established as a hotspot it is then analysed as to whether it is a crime attractor or generator. The difference is that the attractor hotspots offer offenders with plenty of opportunity for a crime they are prepared to use. Whereas generators are usually hotspots of crime where entry is restricted, for example crowded places such as music festivals or subway train routes. The use of distinguishing between the two is that of planning a response. Attractor hotspots will usually be subject to finding a solution to prevent offenders from accessing the area. The generator hotspots will be helped by providing protection for the potential targets or victims. Unfortunately some hotspots, such as shopping centres, are both attractors and generators. Subsequently, the response to problems in such areas will consist of mixed tactics. In general, the list of analysing tools for the purpose of problem solving in NP is extensive. [46] 

Response

Having thoroughly worked through scanning and analysis and having used the tools available the response element of SARA becomes quite apparent, in terms of which aspect of the problem must be addressed. PAT together with RAT identify the point of intervention and provides six general options of response: either to remove one of the three essential conditions – the offender, place, target/victim, alternatively to introduce a handler, manager or a guardian. [47] 

Developing a response to situational crime a typology created by Ronald Clarke laying out five strategies can be used to attack points of intervention identified in the analysis. These aim at minimising opportunities, excuses and provocation for problem occurrence. These strategies, either to increase the effort, reduce the risks, reduce the rewards, reduce provocations or remove excuses are split into 25 techniques which can all be specifically adapted to a particular problem or a crime. [48] 

One of the key aims of NP is to fight fear of crime. This is a common occurrence in many neighbourhoods due to the presence of insignificant anti-social behaviour which creates the fear and anxiety for its residents. Small disorder creates an atmosphere where bigger crime seems acceptable. Not being serious, such behaviour is usually visually noticeable and increases the residents’ unease reducing their quality of life. Known as signal crime it has several accepted responses. The way NP deals with such behaviour and essentially the fear is by imposing control signals. One of the oldest of such controls is the ‘broken windows’ approach. The approach believes that leaving small anti-social behaviour undealt with can spiral out into more serious crime and bigger problem for the neighbourhood. As the name of the approach suggests that if say a window of an unused property is broken, it should not be left broken as that will create a sense of normality which would lead to more crime, but must be repaired as soon as possible to signal control over the disorder. Of course, the principle of this approach can be applied to many sorts of anti-social behaviour, for example vandalism and even taunting of members of the community. [49] 

Another control signal for crime problems in neighbourhoods is the creation of collective efficacy. This means emphasising the involvement of the community to participate in the solution of a problem. Increasing the capacity of informal social efforts has a direct impact on the fear of crime. Some evidence has shown that neighbourhoods with higher collective efficacy experience less fear of crime and better quality of life than those with the same level of crime or disorder but less collective efficacy. The involvement of the community creates a sense of control as they feel something is being done improving their perception of wellbeing. NP values this approach and always works towards increasing the involvement of the community. [50] 

NIM

CHAPTER 4 Answers

CHAPTER 5 Discussion and Conclusion

Problem of displacement

Unfortunately, policing pledge is to be scrapped due to the budget deficit in favour of police concentrating on law rather than target meeting. In my opinion it is a step backwards.

Whether it is good, Future improvement ambitions

Also as useful in rural areas:

http://www.ruralcommunities.gov.uk/files/Neighbourhood%20Policing%20Rural%20Guide1.pdf

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