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The most influential and enduring of Peel's principles for the modern police is the notion that 'the police are the public and the public are the police'.
The year 1829 was a very important for modern policing thanks to Sir Robert Peel. As Home Secretary, he presented a bill into the British Parliament on 19th July 1829 which became to create the Metropolitan police force for London. This was said to be the first modern police force and set up policing ethics and structure for elsewhere. By looking at this starting point in history we can see how modern policing originated and developed in Australia.
There became a need for policing in cities and towns. This need for policing can be attributed to the many social changes that occurred in the Industrial Revolution and the civil disorder caused by unemployment from returning soldiers. At first there was substantial struggle through fear of an organised, uniformed police force. This resulted in steps taken to ensure that the first British police force was established with clear rules of conduct and control to avoid the system becoming like the European system and other countries. By doing so the public perception of this police force adapted and became accepted and seen as non-threatening rather than feared.
Egon Bittner (1990) argues that policing reflected the ethos that old ways of controlling disorder were no longer suitable. During the nineteenth century haphazard, repressive and violent control of dissent was no longer acceptable and belief showed that forms of social control should be civilized
Peel set out a system aimed at preventing crime and reforming criminals. The principal requirement was that the force be an organised, disciplined body, concerned primarily with crime and its prevention. This also called for the police to be an independent organisation and impartial to Parliament as to prevent interference. The early creation of the British police force set way to the British way of tradition and precedent to establish guidelines and rules which are seen sometimes as unchanging.
As part of the agreement, police were given a control and trust over the use of force and the capability to coerce people to obey. Brittner goes on to claim that "this monopoly on force to be the defining feature of policing (Understanding Criminal Justice: Sociological Perspectives p. 86)
Many people involved in the creation as well as inside the police force had attained military backgrounds. Even so, early police force set out to differentiate from military personnel in several ways including uniform and ranks. "Bobby's helmet" was a heavily modified version of a military pattern and the choice of names for ranks were used to avoid the militaristic sounding names of lieutenant and captain.
Police were originally intended to be an 'unarmed body' with expectations from the public to defend themselves and others without having to resort to weapons. They did however carry weapons but these were concealed until the mid-1990s whereby the British police accepted batons that hung visibly from the belt. Police were also expected to be visible and accountable. Up until 1870 they were required to wear their uniform on and off duty with the absence of a band on the cuff to indicate they were off duty.
By the nineteenth century, the relationship between the British public and its police had settled away from a large figure of authority to familiarity on the streets. This shows how policing was transitioning from the old style to modern style of policing where as such it is becoming to undergo change due to globalization, risk, multiculturalism and even sensitivity and scrutiny from media. (Understanding Criminal Justice, p. 87)
The Establishment of Police in Australia
Australia was still under British control at the time the British police force was formed and still under direct ruling of the Westminster Parliament. This heritage had a considerable influence on how policing was formed and became to be in Australia. By 1898 single State police force was formed for each state to police. 1979 Federal Police responsible for policing Canberra and the Australian Capital Territory and for the investigation of offences under Federal Law. The tasks of the police had changed and differentiated from the British police.
Modern policing still maintains the military-style workings that had been developed in Britain. The organisation possesses their rank structure and rules and regulations to be followed carefully. Police officers are responsible for upholding the law, investigating offences and prosecuting offenders. This includes the tasks of preservation of peace, good order and protection of life and property. Police officers are however not supervised on the street level and obtain an extremely wide level of discretion (Chan 1999). The way police officers execute these tasks today has considerably changed from Robert Peel's methods of community-focused policing. This can be attributed to development of technology in the recent decades.
The changes in technology after the 1960's had a direct impact on the changes in policing style. Recent years saw the introduction of motorcar patrol, forensic analysis, radio and mobile technology and computers.
Communication through police vehicles and improvements in radio equipment meant that the police could be contacted immediately no matter where they were situated.
Policing was moving away from foot patrols into squad cars as it was seen that a better response time would mean a better service to the public.
This reliance on technology was seen to not improve the service to public. Police efficiency was starting to be measured on the time it takes to respond to a service rather. Policing became more "reactive" rather than Peel's "proactive" ideal.
The public was said to feel alienated and separated from the police force which lead to more development alongside community based policing schemes of today.
Policing also needed to deal with other problems. Regardless of clear complaint procedures, modern police forces in the 1990's were seen to behave as racist, sexist and power abuse on the minorities in society. Cities and suburbs were also changing. Population was increasing and costs of maintaining an effective police force in balance with the rising crime started to become a political issue. Expectations started to arise for the police force to justify their performance and actions (p. 80).
As the world changed, the public wanted to see a return of the 20th century based policing seen in the past. People wanted officers walking the street and highly visible while on patrol. However, these ideas are not as applicable to today's standards where more people own cars to get to work and massive population increase where a police roaming the streets is nowhere as effective (p. 80)
Modern standards have moved away from the effectiveness of the police force in an unquantifiable social context into concerns of financial cost of public services. Because of financial constraints of today, the Police forces are now pressured to show their value for money.
Because of changing society, they are now required to also behave with correct authority and diversity among the public. These issues keep the police accountability on constant public scrutiny. Power powers are carefully observed and interpersonal skills are now seen as important as firearm skills (p. 92)
Police culture like any other organisational culture is seen to be the held set of shared attitudes, values and norms that all contribute to the interactions between staff on a daily basis. These are expressed in openly and clear accountable ways as well as in less obvious methods. This frame of mind that the organisation upholds determines the appropriate behaviours and communication which are used day to day (Daniels and Spiker 1994). The difference between the police culture to another organisation lies within the pressures that originate in the policing environment and culture.
Characteristics formed from the policing role includes a sense of mission towards their policing role as well as passion to work in a 'exciting' crime-orientated role.
characteristics include: an exaggerated sense of mission towards the policing
role and passion work that is crime-oriented and promises excitement; the
celebration of masculine exploits; the willingness to use force and engage in
informal working practices; suspicion; social isolation; defensive solidarity;
cynicism; pessimism and intolerance towards those who challenge the status
quo (Reiner, 1992; Bayley, 1996).