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Through this paper, I will seek to demonstrate that the involvement of the external agencies to include the community themselves is essential to manage crime effectively and efficiently. I will also explore the arguments against the involvement of external bodies and the community with the Police organisation.
Times change and society changes. 'Future generations will look back on our era as a time when one system of policing ended and another took its place' (Bayley and Shearing 1996:585). Crime management nowadays is different from the generations that preceded them. Not worse or better - just different. An increase in diverse and complex crimes has led the police to increase their cooperation and partnership with a variety of outer policing agencies to manage these crimes. (Reiner, 2010) Many Boroughs across London are diverse, thus the Police have to cater for different languages, religions and more. In today's late modern environment, there is a push towards localism and the government has increased a focus on reassurance policing and a very local level police activity. (Wunsh, 2013) We know that financial challenges will continue, and that perhaps it will increase; society will become ever more multicultural; advancing technology means increasingly varied skills will be required to fight crime; organised criminals will develop ever more sophisticated methods; public support for policing must not be allowed to diminish. Police forces will be better positioned to negotiate these issues if they can enlist assistance from and work with non-policing bodies. The public represents a vast untapped resource of experience, knowledge and enthusiasm. The Public Attitude Survey shows that nowadays people wants to be more involved in their community and that has lead to a 9% increase from 82% to 91% in the level of confidence London-wide. (Wunsh, 2013)
The wider community plays a very important part in the fight against crime. Without the help of communities, the police response to countering crime is made more difficult. The effectiveness of the family structure which is responsible to the primary socialisation of young people is also vitally important. Communities and family can educate and instil right values in the young generation, thereby preventing them from entering a life of crime and contributing to the crime figures. According to Durkheim, society is held together by education, shared values and economic interdependence (Durkheim, 1895). To manage crime successfully, the maintenance of right values is crucial, primary socialisation through the family and learning from institutions of our educational system. Educating the community right from a young age should be done through a multi approach style.
Policing the late modern era is a challenge and indeed very different to how it used to be in the last decades. The public is now seen as a consumer of Policing. During this era, there are numerous requests for the police to be more accountable to the people they serve. There is a need for Police to be open and approachable. A decline in public trust can result ultimately in serious public unrest. Police behaviour and failure to effectively engage with communities was responsible for the Brixton Riots (Newburn, 2012). According to the Scarman report, the violent riot in Brixton was as a result of build up resentment from the local community. The report also highlighted the mistrust of the local community towards the methods of policing utilised. The collapse of the liaison arrangements between the local authority, police and the community prior to the riots has also an integral part leading to the disorder. (Scarman, 1981) This report has been a wake up call and a focal point for a multifaceted reorientation of police thinking. To prevent reoccurrence of similar incidents, there is a need for the police to consult with the community about policing local areas.
Police is often seen as an alienating force which patrols the local community with intent to criminalise the locals. The miners strike was another example of breakdown between the police and the community. In the lead up to the miners strike, police was seen as the arm of the state and the militaristic style of policing was certainly not in favour of the local community. To drive improvement, the police just as other public services require timely, robust and quality research. Research across all levels will ensure that the police functions efficiently, effectively and economically. (Dawson and Williams 2009) Qualitative research will also show the police what are the local issues that actually matter to the people they serve. (Wunsh, 2013) During the administration of Thatcher, the government and the police were forceful and there was no consultation with the local community, consultative process of decision making was ignored. Flynn suggests that Thatcher would have made fewer policy disasters such as the Pol Tax if she had listened to advice and consultation. (Flynn, 2007) Adopting a more open, consultative style and more collegial cabinet on the other hand did work for John Major during his time in office. (Kavanagh and Seldon, 1994)
We have seen a process of malpractice by the police in the 1970s where the police tactics was more to a coercive, 'fire brigade' style, and the treatment of detainees oppressive, resulting in PACE 1984 being implemented to govern police powers and regulations. This significant landmark has increased transparency and confidence. However, Reiner argues that even though the police did not work in partnership with other eternal agencies and taking the community views into consideration, they hade far more powers to deal with the 'fight against crime' and to resist 'political' control. (Reiner, 2010) Nowadays, the police have changed its image and the local community has a say in many decisions across policing and it can be argued that the police has far too many external organisations doing jobs that should be done by police officers. Are the police more effective in fighting crime now or was it more effective in the seventies? Since the 1970's even though there have been numerous implementations across the police; to include the introduction of the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act (S6) which requires the police and the local authority to work in partnership to identify local crimes and problems and to develop strategies to solve the issues. Despite the changes, some might argue that the police is not doing partnership to reach out to the local community. This can be evidenced through the failure of the police prior to the London Riots 2011 for not communicating efficiently with the families of Matt Duggan after his death.
The safer neighbourhood watch is a perfect example of how the outer partners can help in the prevention of crime. This scheme was set up in Cheshire in 1982 following its success in Chicago. Not only does the scheme help to solve crime but it has proven that the active safer neighbourhood watch areas are less affected by crimes compared to non active safer neighbourhood watch areas. This scheme has, in numerous communities, increased vigilance, maintained security and maintained a caring community by providing crime prevention awareness. The scheme is coordinated by the community and it gives members of the community a sense of involvement. (Met Police, 2012)
Crime Reduction Initiative is a charity organisation which works in very close partnership with the police. In the last decade, it has proven to be a very productive organisation that helps the numerous people affected by drugs, crime, homelessness, antisocial behaviour, alcohol and other issues that has a big impact on the health and safety of communities. The charity works with over 30 000 individuals on a daily basis. They try to make a difference in the life of the people that might be at risk of offending and be in police contact. Over the last year, 6000 people have successfully completed the substance misuse treatment. Without the help of organisation such as the CRI, the police are working in vain as we might not make that much of an impact. Through the outreach work being done on the streets of UK, CRI is making a big difference by helping those people who are in need to get back on their feet. This in turn prevent these people from offending. (Adetunji, 2012)
The direct link between drugs and crime is indisputable. Drugs related shoplifting, robberies and burglaries cost the country around 14 billion every year. To arrest the criminal does not seem to solve this problem which keeps on increasing every year. Most of the suspects who commit crime to fund their drugs habit are not phased by the police and court process. They are affected by this drug addiction epidemic that sparks crime. The police have now come to realise that the most effective way of combating these problems is to engage with these suspects through the DIP (Drugs Interventions Programme). Nowadays drugs worker attend the police station to speak to detainees arrested for offences that are linked. If the detainees test positive for opiates or heroin then they have to attend a meeting with these drugs worker. Whilst being booked in into custody all the prisoners are offered help whether they need it or not. These detainees trust the help they received from these outer organisations. Research conducted across the country shows that getting the offenders "particularly heroin and crack users into treatment while they are in the criminal justice system, serving either community or prison sentences is an effective way of reducing repeated drug related offending. Largely as a result of these schemes, more than one in four of the 188,000 new referrals to community-based drug treatment now come via the police, courts and prisons, compared with one in five in 2004/05. In addition estimates suggest about 65,000 offenders receive some form of drug treatment in prisons in England each year" (Bennetto, 2013).
Nowadays, many forces across the country are using a multi-agency approach to support victims of domestic violence and rape. This approach of joint working, quick action, building self esteem and early intervention has proved to be very fruitful to many victims. (Thorp, 2012) Police working without these agencies would not be as effective when working independently. When working in cooperation, the expertise of these different organisations, it is easier to provide the help and support required to get the victims back on their feet. Home Barnet, an agency assisting police with domestic violence victims has proved to be very effective in London Borough of Barnet. In the last 6 months, 164 families received help and only 3 cases were escalated to social care referrals. (Thorp, 2012) This success clearly suggests that the police work more efficiently when they are supported by the non police agencies.
Prevent strategy is a good example to show how the police, outer agencies and the community can work well in partnership to combat serious crime. The programme was originally designed by the government to stop members of public from engaging in or supporting terrorism. Even though prevent is not a police led strategy; it is delivered by in conjunction with police partners. The Home Office coordinates the programme and the police, outer partners and the community have each got an important role to play to make prevent successful. Programmes such as prevent would not be effective if the police was working on its own. It is only with the right support that individuals who are vulnerable to violent extremism can be located and worked with. (Met, 2013)
At the moment, every department of the public sector is suffering due to the fiscal crisis of the state. Numerous departments have been subjected to reducing funding whilst having the responsibilities to perform the same duties. Getting non policing bodies to help out with the back office role can actual help crime management by allowing more front line officers of the streets to serve the public. According to former commissioner Sir Ian Blair many areas of police works do not actually have to be carried out by warranted officers. Many forces have already started to employ non police staff to undertake tasks such guarding prisoners, preparing routine statements, and routine intelligence analysis to accommodate the fixed policing budget. (Blair, 2012) However, with the arrival of private security companies taking over numerous tasks that used to be performed by the police previously, some might argue that these companies only profit making companies and not operate to serve or make a difference to the local communities. Failing of the external agencies helping the police are often seen as failures of the police service. A prime example of failure by companies assisting with policing of the community was noted last year right at the beginning of London Olympics. G4S who is the main security contractors in UK could not deliver for the millions they had charged the state for providing Olympics security. The police and armed forces had to step in to provide for the failings of G4S. One might argue that G4S had been paid substantial amounts of money and had enough time to prepare for the Olympics. Had it been not for the Police and The Army, the policing of the London Olympics would have been a big failure. These private companies do not have to account to anyone let alone the public whilst the police service sometimes has to account too many.
There have also been numerous concerns that the private companies' recruitment standards and training is poor. These private companies have a business to fulfil and thus the recruitment standards will not be as rigorous as a police force. Private companies are merely here to accommodate the budget cuts and they do not have to account to the public. This can have serious impact on security. Serco who is an established security company working for the police has come under fire on numerous occasions for lack of security checks. Over the last few years, police has arrested numerous Serco security employees for supplying drugs to the prisoners. (BBC, 2010)
At the moment there seems to be an inexorable slide towards the privatisation of many sectors within the police and some might fear that these private firms are not officers of the peace rather Robocop. Public services will not work any better when they are not opened up to a free market model. Privatisation can be seen as an option to solve the government's financial crisis but it normally transfer the problem to the consumers, the same people who are tax payers. (Flynn, 2007) With the privatisation of the police, it would be morally wrong to let the community suffer the same consequences as the national rail, water and sewage networks and the NHS. Whilst taking importance decision to involve external companies to take over policing jobs, one should look at the situation in view of a long term solution and not as a quick fix solution. There is a need to consider the growth of private within a wider social structural context. (Johnston, 1996)
Are external agencies including the community indispensable to the world of policing in late modern society? Britain to include other industrial societies are experiencing profound shift in the modalities of crime, order and policing. (Reiner, 2010) To achieve effective and efficient crime management, it is paramount to have partnership and cohesion to provide varying degrees of expertise and experience which will undoubtedly have a positive effect in the management of crime. However, using outer agencies to work in partnership with the police should not be used for the purpose of accommodating the fiscal situation, but it should be used in circumstances that would benefit the community.