Discuss British Culture Public Perceptions And Expectations Criminology Essay

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In the following assignment I will discuss how the British culture, public perceptions and expectations have continued to influence the development of the police service from its early beginnings in 1829 to the present day.

During the industrial revolution conditions became intolerable which helped lead the way for the formation of the "new police". Henry Fielding one of the chief magistrates also shaped the British police force introducing the first paid police force in 1753, called the bow street runners who were thief takers in civilian clothing, latterly they were an armed patrol on the streets into the capital.

However reform was delayed by a series of committees who opposed the idea of a police force, the 1822 committee stated "…. It is difficult to reconcile an effective police force with that perfect freedom of action and exemption from interference which are the great privileges and blessings of society in this country.", this opposition was collapsed in 1829 when Sir Robert Peel, home secretary at the time put forward the metropolitan act through parliament, this new force superseded the local Watch in the London area, but the city of London was not fully covered. Other groups such as The Bow Street Patrols, Police Office constables attached to the offices of, and under the control of, the Magistrates and The Marine or River Police all initially coexisted alongside the metropolitan police, but by 1839 all of these establishments were absorbed by the new force. This history shows that there has always been a police presence around although they might not have been an established force. By the beginning of the 1960s the police service was still conducting foot patrols when the public and criminals had taken to using motor vehicles, this led to the police service abandoning its traditional foot patrols in favour of conducting patrols from vehicles known as 'Panda cars'. In the 1970s the police were more mobile, which started the 999 response culture this however meant a reduction in local contact and a fall in pay.

This particular change had a major impact on the size of the police service as they could recruit more men and then more would be out on patrol at one time, this also meant they way in which the force interacted with the general public which changed dramatically as the public began to lose the relationship between the officer and the public. Policing was redefined as a function of only addressing only crime as opposed to the original understanding that police would address both crime and disorder.

There have also been regulations and laws put in place with regards to police powers as previously in the 1970s there was a high influx in police brutality as there were not sufficient or strict enough laws to protect the public and strict enough laws for the police to govern within the force itself for example, the miners' strike where there was a case where a miner claimed during some riots a police man hit him so hard on the head with his wooden baton that the baton split in two and cracked this man's head, the case was never proven or brought to justice as there was insufficient evidence or witnesses who saw this alleged incident occur. This then caused changes within the law of police powers regarding reasonable force because if these changes were not brought to light then police officers and the public would each be persecuted. A more recent incident was at the G8 summit 2009 where still some police officers exceeded reasonable force and turned their power into police brutality, this also brought to light the fact that police officers are not superior to the public, they are there to help and govern the public and so the same laws such as assault would still apply to the police if reasonable force was exceeded. This most recent incident gave the police force a generalised bad reputation which lost them a lot of faith and respect in the public eye. their are still alot of underlying issues with regards to personal beliefs within the police force, in the recent case of Tarrique Ghafur who was an assistant commissioner of the metropolitan police who accused the commissioner of racism, this case was brought forward recently but there have been many cases of racism and discrimination within the whole uk police force, these issues can never be solved because of peoples personal beliefs and views however these allegations are being sought out by the police force to keep up an equal environment for all races and sexes, the reason this needs to be upheld is because of the laws which the police enforce, as they would lose great faith from the public if they are not enforcing laws within their own work place and colleagues.

Another, less overt, theme is the public acceptance of the police as possessing legitimate authority to patrol and intervene in everyday life known as Dickson of dock green policing.

Senior police management frequently voice the opinion that communities are policed 'by consent' and the image of the British bobby still survives, as they feel that the police officer in a patrol car can still provide an everyday, physical and visible representation of the values of a police force, In particular the relationship between citizen and state. But still with a belief that the collective state should interfere with the life of the individual as little as possible

But it goes further than that - the police are more than another public service, they are commonly referred to as 'the law' and as such are separate from and independent of the government, Not only is the citizen subject to the rule of law, so are state officials, the state itself and the police

Perhaps more important in this country than in other jurisdictions such as the USA which recognises the citizen's right to bear arms.

This shows that the relationship between the officer and public is still important however the police still need to do their job.

By the 1980s the police were involved in large scale public disorder such as miners strikes, race riots in Brixton/London and Birmingham, however this meant a public lost confidence in the police and the police became politicised. In the 1990's with the Stephen Lawrence case and the allegations of institutionalised racism the police force meant the need for more changes had to happen within the force.

Chairman Fred Broughton acknowledged the exsistence of "institutionalised racism" but contested the use of the term "collective failure", which implied the whole police service is racist.

In the 2000s, high profile child sex abuse enquires such as the Soham murders meant that the police tried to specialise in these areas.

With 43 police forces in England and Wales with 43 Chief Constables they were all meant to be doing the same kind of work and following the same ideas and rules however they all seemed to be doing it differently with very different results.

Overall the police service is very slow to change and suffering political interference with the culture of the force and also the attempt to return community policing with Police Community support officers (PCSO's)

Social changes such as the post war redevelopment which created 'sink' estates in places such as Knowle West and Hartcliffe in Bristol, lead to social deprivation along with the general breakdown in the family unit, meaning that more and more children were being brought up to fend for themselves leading to an increase in juvenile offenders. Absent fathers within a household also meant that children were being brought up without a dominant father figure and parental control lacked.

After the war about 95% of children were brought up with a married mother and father who set the rules on how they should behave. The police also introduced family lea son officers to help families deal with problems within their family unit , this also included personal issues and child welfare as they could work hand in hand with social services.

Large scale immigration, initially West Indian meant that a large number of different races and cultures were coming over to the UK for work and asylum, which lead to Race and sex equality drives meaning that the police force had to integrate the needs of these people into the force.

Greater availability of news and information now with the internet helped the force as it meant that they could find out things as soon as they happened, this however was not always a good thing as it meant that there was greater scrutiny and criticism of the police, especially over mistakes for example the Menezes shooting, Victoria Climbie and the Stephen Lawrence case.

The explosion in the use of drugs such as heroin, cocaine and cannabis was also a major social change within the police force as they had to start bringing in a class system of drugs, bringing in new laws as to how to prosecute offenders in possession of drugs to deter people from using the drugs, but a general crackdown on most forms of drugs has been brought in a more and more people are seeing the damage drugs can do to people's health. Campaigns such as Frank have been set up by the government to give the public a chance to freely enquire about drugs, personal issues they have to do with drugs but these people are kept on minus so they are protected and feel confident talking to someone about their problems without being persecuted. Police Culture has also changed vastly as post war, 97% white men were police of officers however in the news more recently we are shown that more and more eligible white men are being turned down as they are trying to advance diversity. In the 1970's/80's there were increases in women entrants but were still used for meanial positions. By the 1990's there was an increase in women entrants including 'positive' action to increase numbers and drive to increase ethnic minority entrants (3% national target). Nowadays all roles in the force are open to women and there are 2,137 women representing 23.75% of the total force strength, with 2,573 female police staff, which shows a huge increase in the last couple of decades. Women officers are encouraged to apply for posts in areas where they are currently under represented for example the operational support unit and the fire arms unit although all departments have female members. Female officers are also given support when pregnant, as they are taken off confrontational duties but are still working within the force until they can come back to work. This shows that the force has advanced to still ensure that both male and female officers can be accommodated for even when they want to start a family.

Other things such as harassment in the work place is an unwanted feature of some organisations and females may feel vulnerable towards sexual harassment, but in an attempt to provide support and help for any member of staff , certain forces such as the west midlands police have set up a team of 'skilled helpers' called fist contact advisors, this is a network of police and civilian staff who have been trained to give confidential help , advice and support. No pressure is placed on any member of staff however to act against their wishes. Groups like this help the officers when they feel most venerable but can also help a member of staff with whatever problem they have. Confidentiality also means that they can deal with their problem and it doesn't have to affect their work.

Police are still required to reflect the social make of the country, however this has not yet worked and is causing problems with internal resentment as more minority groups such as the polish are brought in to help with translation as the population of the polish is increasing, this is good as it is representing the minorities but many typical white officers do not see this as a good thing because many of the promotion jobs are given to the minorities so they don't feel discriminated against. By reflecting the social make of the country the police force as a whole can have a better understanding of these minority groups however this is clearly not always seen as a good thing.

Police also still believe that they 'police by consent', which means that the police work with the public but the reality is that a large proportion of the public do not trust the police regardless. Within small communities neighbourhood watch are a good example of this as all the neighbours look out for each other and if anything happens the police are informed start away, this relationship can help both the police and the public feel more safe in their communities. Another example is crime watch as this programme involves the public heavily in finding the criminals to solve the cases; this programme gives the public a chance to feel that they can make a difference. However in France the police and the public do not have this relationship and do not help each other out.

The police are now also subjected to political interference over targets and policy direction. The overall feel is that the senior officers are only interested in promotion and not serving the public

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