The Concept Of Neighborhood Policing Criminology Essay

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The concept of neighborhood policing has been developed over the years and it is clearly articulated in the white paper as follows; 'Having dedicated teams of police officers and community support officers, working in concert with wardens and other members of what is sometimes referred to as the ''extended police family'' to provide a visible and accessible presence in communities. [1] In Britain, it was drafted more than thirty years ago but it has not been effectively implemented. This essay is aimed at analyzing Savage's view on the reinvention of the constable with regard to neighborhood policing and determines whether his suggestions are true, possible to implement or simply unrealistic.

Neighborhood policing attracts a lot of participants from diverse backgrounds; private security officers, volunteers and auxiliaries working alongside the regular police. This makes the exercise challenging because the roles of all the players are not clearly defined and there is no handbook on how to conduct community policing. Evidently the regular police ought to be the leaders and take up a managing role as stated in the white paper but this is not the case. Savage states that the constables should take a more active and defined role in making our communities safer by taking on management positions in community policing. [2] It is true that the constables need to take and leadership role in the neighborhood policing. This can be achieved but only in the presence of clear and precise guidelines. The constables are the only members of the neighborhood policing team that have formal training on law enforcement and therefore they need to take the lead in the project as stated by Savage.

In transforming police officers into leaders in community policing, Savage feels that there is need to improve the recruitment approach, the training of the constables and development of the staff. This way, the officers will be more professional and they will be able to carry out their leadership roles. Better training and a revised training curriculum will help them develop their skills more effectively. It is apparent that constables are taking a more active role as community leaders by delivering the priorities of the community. [3] What savage suggests therefore is a possibility that the constable can be empowered through better training. This is savage's definition is the reinvention of the constable. Instead of being a general part of the community policing project the reinvented constable will be a specialist. Better training is achievable but it would require a change in the already existing training guideline. The constable can become better equipped with specific skills and will therefore be ranked above the other partakers of the community policing and will be in the frontline guiding them on how to go about the community policing.

As mentioned earlier, the participants of the neighborhood policing are usually diverse without specific sense of direction and leadership. With the reinvention of the constable, a shift between the constable and the others is bound to be evident. Instead of the constable doing the actual neighborhood policing, he/she will show the way to the other members' and delegate how to carry out their activities. This is a possibility that is dependent on whether the training manual and recruitment strategies will be changed to incorporate this aspect. Better training may require the review of the entire police instruction curriculum. This is influenced by many stakeholders and may not be affected promptly. Savage's idea therefore remains as a mere possibility.

Another suggestion that Savage makes is the extension of officer authority. The national policing plan involves the empowerment of police officer and giving him more authority. Savage advocated for the decentralization of power from the top leadership or the frontline officers. [4] Most of the influence in the neighborhood policing projects lies with the senior officers or 'advanced constables'. Savage's idea is to shift from the traditional model where the constable carries out a wide range of activities which require low skills and unspecified training to the advanced constable who will work on specific o policing capability that requires high level potential. [5] It is true that training the constables to acquire special skills will improve the neighborhood policing and it is achievable. However, decentralization of power in the police ranks is unrealistic because in every institution there is a hierarchy of authority. There are the police leaders, their deputies and those who serve under them. In this case there are the senior police officers who are closely. These officers are assigned different roles in the community policing and they should be the ones to guide the members of the community who are active in the neighborhood policing. It is therefore unreasonable to make every officer in the neighborhood policing an 'advanced constable.' There should be criteria for selecting specific constables to lead the others and confer them with explicit skills. As much as the neighborhood policing are a communal responsibility it is not guaranteed that the people in the neighborhood will actually take part in the activity. The constables should therefore be assigned clear responsibilities and assigned specific groups from the community who are willing to take part in the exercise. They should be ranked according to their area of specialization. This can be incorporated in the recruitment and strategies. Instead of the generalized training for the constable, the curriculum can be designed such that the constables can specialize in different areas.

The advanced constable is categorized in two; the technical expert and the team leader. The expert has specialized knowledge on important areas while the leader takes charge of the activity .in some cases the team leader is to be given power to impose anti-social behavior orders. [6] This is part of the reinvention of the constable which endows the constable with more power than the other members of the team. It is possible to categorize the constables into the expert and the team leader but this begs the question of implementation. Due to the vagueness of this idea, confusion may arise. There is no defined criterion for differentiating the leader and the expert especially since they undergo the same training but are given different roles. The advanced constable hypothesis therefore remains as a possibility unless major changes are made in the neighborhood policing guidelines.

Savage believes that the anxiety associated with crime can be the driving force for motivating social cooperation and cohesion. Savage is right in making this assumption because most people especially in the urban settings are driven by fear. All they need is prodding so that they can deal with their fears.

There are five factors that influence police reform as stated by Savage. They are the major sources of influence which eventually impact on the policing policy. Most of the reforms that Savage proposes are realistic and possible to achieve although they are limited by these five factors. The system failure for instance, also known as scandal deals with the police malpractice, abuse of power and flawed strategies and has always generated reforms. Savage suggests reforms in the training and recruitment policies. If the only way to start an outrage and a series of reforms is based on these then the reforms may never be implemented accordingly and the neighborhood policing may not be as effective as it should be.

Change in policing is also dependent on the flow of ideas about the practice within the neighborhood policing. There are many participants in the community policing and everybody may present their ideas for the better of the community. In the presence of many ideas, it may become hard to filter the good ideas from the bad ones. The flow of ideas make Savages proposal seem realistic.

Politics is another major driving force for reforms as well as the forces within the police force. The advanced constable hypothesis states that the constable shall be equipped with special skills to become a leader and an expert in the community. This can only be achieved if the politics surrounding the reforms is positive and the forces within the police are guided by the reform agenda rather than their own selfish ambition to get the 'advanced constable' status.

The constable will have several roles in the future based on savage's hypothesis. The police have access to information on crime from their informants and surveillance equipment. At their disposal also is a detailed guideline on how to deal with crime. They are specifically equipped with this knowledge during their training. The private security firms and the volunteers in the community policing in most cases do not have formal training and therefore the regular police (constable) will be expected to take the lead in the fight against crime. Volunteers and private security workers may be willing to take part in the neighborhood policing but they need the expertise of the regular police to be effective and successful without compromising their own security. The role of the police will not only be to reduce crime but also to reassure the public of their security. This way, they will marshal confidence and social cohesion which will further reduce crime.

Another role of the constable under Savage hypothesis will be to be in the frontline in community mobilization. They will be required to educate the society on neighborhood policing and provide leadership to help the communities in identification and driving out social circumstances that give rise to crime. [7] The constable will be required to explicitly explain how to identify social traits or behaviors that result in crime and insecurity. This will be particularly important so that the community does not stereotype a group of people as criminals in their society. The constable will help differentiate between those who are a threat to the security of the neighborhood and those who are socially disturbed but pose no threat to society.

Another role will be to reduce fear(negative feeling brought about by a potential perceived threat) and tension in communities. The constables will be expected to make their community more secure, happier and reduce the cases of antisocial behavior [8] . This will be achieved through constant surveillance and regular patrol in their allocated communities. They will be required to be involved in other community activities such as sports and festivals. They will be expected to take part in these activities in addition to fighting crime so as to ensure a feeling of security and reassurance by the people. Being with in touch with the community will help build confidence and trust in the people. By being involved in the community activities, the constable will be able to identify and organize the locals to respond to crime in their neighborhoods. The 'model police' will be expected to reduce fear and pressure in the communities [9] 

The advanced constable will have the mandate to impose provisional anti-social behavior orders as a way of identifying potential threats and identifying crime. This constable will have 'supra power' to direct the community on how they should behave and clearly define antisocial behavior [10] . This constable will be expected to conduct a thorough research, analyze and mobilize the community in the quest for their security. Since most people are victims of fear and nervousness, the reinvented constable will be expected to unite the concern for crime with the fear. The members of the community have their reasons to fear and with the help of the constable they will be able to use the fear to their advantage. When they identify the source of their fear, they can also identify what triggers their fear and the reason why certain aspects in the community trigger that feeling. If it is genuine calls for concern, then the neighborhood policing constable will take the appropriate action and if it is not the constable will still be able to determine that and find a way to dispel the fear.

The modern constable is by definition a leader [11] and is expected to guide his own group of volunteers to make the community a safe and habitable place free of crime. The main role of the constable will be to lead the rest of the community in policing. Using the specific skills acquired in training, the constable's role will guide all those involved with the neighborhood policing. Some of the ways this will be dividing people in groups and assigning them roles or a specific area to secure from crime. The constable will of course be expected to be present to supervise how the groups are fairing.

Neighborhood policing is an important part of building safer communities. It was mentioned in the British police reforms but almost three decades later it is still more of a theory than a practice despite the fact that it is a fundamental part of the security of a community. The workforce modernization agenda is a worthwhile cause and the advanced constable should be brought to life for the good of the people and the neighborhoods as well. If the people are involved in ensuring their own security they are more likely to respond positively and cooperate with the law enforcement officers. The police officers are generally supposed to make their presence felt in the community and act as a point of contact between people who have issues with crime.

Savage has proposed several ways to improve and implement community policing; most of it is realistic and if worked upon can bring forth positive change in ensuring that the communities are safe. The success of these proposals however relies on a number of factors and unless those factors are effected, community policing will continue to be a theory as it has been for the last thirty years since the conception of this idea by Alderson [12] .