The Effective Mobilisation Of Community Suppor Criminology Essay

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Community policing is essentially a philosophy that stimulates organisational tactics, which support the methodical use of partnerships and problem-solving procedures concentrated at achieving more effective and efficient crime control, reduced fear, improved quality of life and police legitimacy, through a proactive faith in community resources. This adopts a need for greater liability of police, greater public share in decision making, and greater concern for civil rights and liberties. 

Community policing is consists of of three key components which are; organisational transformation, community partnerships and problem solving.

Organisational Transformation is the alignment of; structure, personnel ,information systems, communications and organisational management to support community partnerships and proactive problem solving , it concentrates on how to involve the community in the current structure of policing; this is so the community can have ease of access to resources, information systems and communications. Agencies must manage various aspects within themselves such as strategic planning, policies to cover citizens working in crime prevention, transparency, relations with the community and the agencies must also be upheld and kept positive as both the community and agencies will be relying on each other to make the policing exercise effective. The objective of these transformations is to create an organisational structure that can best provision for proactive operations concentrating on preventing crime. While traditional enforcement are reactive and focus on response time and arrest rates, the community oriented policing organisation boosts the officers to proactively identify, react solve community problems. Community oriented policing requires changes in organisational structure to ease its acceptance and instil it throughout the entire department.

One of the most important roles is the splitting of resources between community members and police officers. There must be adequate resources available. The recruitment and training of Police Community Support Officers also needs to be put in place and managed up to standards expected of the police force. All these tasks require a lot of time, effort and money and it is imperative that the tasks are executed with precision and sill so as to cause as little disruption to the current policing system that' is in place. The merge of the community and police needs to be seamless as does their partnership.

Community partnership with the law enforcement agency is vital, there has to be a healthy relationship between the two parties as this will server to develop solutions to actions relating to crime/the rise in crime and also instils trust with each other. Establishing and maintaining mutual trust is the central goal of this component.

Community partnership means adopting a policing view that surpasses the standard law enforcement importance. This marginally expanded outlook takes into account the importance of activities that contribute to the regulation and well-being of a neighbourhood. These activities could include: helping victims, , helping resolve domestic conflicts such as landlord-tenant disputes, working with residents and local businesses to improve business and recreational conditions, providing emergency services such as fire and health, protecting the exercise of constitutional rights (e.g., guaranteeing a person's right to speak, protecting lawful assemblies from disruption) and providing a role model for citizens to follow.

The services provided help to bridge the gap of trust between police and the community, trust is vital in policing as up to ¾ of all police information comes from the public, and trust is the basis for this exchange of information to occur.

The effective mobilisation of community support requires varying approaches in different communities. For instance it will be easier obtaining cooperation from middle-class and affluent communities than in poorer communities. This is because there is a lack of trust due to the history of police and those communities. A good example is Community Policing in Kenya, Since 2003, Saferworld, in collaboration with its local partner PeaceNet, has developed and implemented a Kenya community based policing (CBP) programme in Kenya, and the results are positive. According to police reports, the CBP approach to addressing insecurity has resulted in crime rates being reduced by up to 40% in one of the pilot sites. But there continue to be major obstacles to police reform and cooperation in Kenya due to the widespread corruption, slow pace of reforms and the publics' lack of trust in police force. The lack of trust stems from the various incidents with the Kenya Police and citizens where excessive force has been used, citizens killed and many have been harassed by police officers.

Building bonds in some neighbourhoods may have to be done through other means that are seen as positive by the community such as supporting basic social institutions (e.g., schools, charities, churches and families) that have been affected by means of crime or disorder.

More recently in the United Kingdom a former PCSO has been jailed for eight years after sexually abusing a schoolgirl he met while promoting the force. The sentence was handed down on the 16th November 2012. Lawrence Dunn, 48, denied nine counts relating to the sexual abuse of a child while in his post as a PCSO for Avon and Somerset Police. This has brought worries to the community as the people they rely on to provide a better environment and a safer life are actually committing some of these crimes. Incidents such as these greatly affect the trust that was once given to the police. Detective Constable Rebecca Maddison, of Avon and Somerset Police, said: "The court heard compelling evidence at this trial, which highlighted the gross abuse of his position of trust."

Problem Solving is the final and most important component; it tends to imply more than just simply the eradication and prevention of crime. It is structured around the notion that crime and disorder can be significantly reduced in areas by carefully studying the characteristics of problems affecting the given locale and then applying the appropriate policies and resources.

This final component encourages the use of engaging in systematic examination and then identification of problems, this is done in order to develop and heavily scrutinize and weigh out effective responses.

The theory is simple; underlying conditions create problems. These conditions can be the character of people involved, the social environment the crime occurred in, also the physical environment and peoples' reactions to these conditions. These conditions then lead to incidents occurring, these incidents all stem from a common source. The numbers of incidents will constantly escalate unless the problem creating the incidents is dealt with. As police begin to applaud the effectiveness of the problem solving method, there is an increase in awareness that the community input and involvement is vital for its success. To determine the underlying causes, there must be an in-depth knowledge of community and there is no better group of people to give the police this information than the community it is affecting.

For this component to operate effectively the police need to dedicate some attention and acknowledge the legitimacy of community concerns. Community groups and

police forces will not always see eye-to eye on which exact problems deserve priority for attention. Police may regard burglaries/robberies as the most important problem in a particular community, while residents may teenage vandals who cause disturbance and damage to public property as the number one problem. This shows a clear conflict of interest; therefore the police must address the problems brought forward by the public first, but also at the same time try to not deviate away from official police duties. This demands that resources be used wisely. The nature of community problems will contrast widely and will more than likely involve multiple incidents that are related by factors such as; geography, time, victim, perpetrator group, and environment.

These alternative procedures involve widespread support within the community. To garner this support, the police must educate residents on the nature of an emergency and on different responses to non-emergencies. This is in an effort to ensure residents are secure in the knowledge that the police response will be appropriate for the urgency and type of emergency, and as a result the number of non-emergency calls will reduce and this will allow police officers to spend more time in the community and will maximize the use of resources.

The police agencies are aided by Police Community Support Officers (PCSO's). They are members of the community, engaged and managed by their Police Force as a non-warranted officer, their introduction was first in the metropolitan police in September 2002 and was tagged as a "historic day in policing" by Commissioner Sir John Stevens [2] They work to aid and support regular police officers, providing a noticeable and accessible uniformed presence to develop the quality of life in the community and offer more public reassurance. 

PCSOs are not replacement police officers but are there to address some of the responsibilities that do not require the experience or powers held by police officers, which often take officers away from more urgent duties.

The benefits of community policing were broken down into three areas by Segrave and Ratcliffe in 2004. The three categories of advantages are; community-specific, police-specific and shared benefits. Community-specific included improved social environment, reduced fear of crime and increase in positive attitudes to police.

Police-specific benefits include improved police-community relationship and an increase in an officers' job satisfaction.

And finally the shared benefits include; a decrease in potential police-citizen conflict, a better flow of intelligence from community to police and better implementation of crime prevention techniques.

As an growing number of studies are directed on community policing, the drawbacks and challenges of executing such strategies are becoming more apparent. As community policing grows in popularity and spreads to other counties, studies have increasingly found that community policing is not a solution that is effortlessly implemented with instantaneous success. Disadvantages are spread into three different areas: within the police service; within the community; and in the implementation of community policing initiatives.

Disadvantages in the police service include; barriers from within the police organisational structure and the reluctance for police to make community policing a priority. Within the community the disadvantages are that the community is reluctant to seek and develop a sustainable partnership with law enforcement and communication constraints can often obstruct community policing success. Finally the disadvantages in the implementation of community policing initiatives is that in developing countries that have low levels of professionalism, no trust or respect for law enforcement, failure in community organisation . This was foiund to greatly inhibit the success of community policing.

The advantages clearly outweigh the pitfalls of community policing, although there is still some debate on their benefits .Opinion within the police appears to remain divided regarding the effectiveness of PCSOs. The Police Federation, that represents conventional police officers, is openly opposed to them. Chairman Paul McKeever told 'Dispatches' [3] that he regards the PCSO system as a 'flawed experiment' which has conned the public into thinking they have more police patrolling the streets. The Federation would like to see the resources being channelled towards employing more fully-warranted police constables. Their argument is that for an average yearly wage of £23,636 per PCSO, the federation could use the funds for all 16,500 PCSOs to employ 11,000 Police Officers who are trained and are fully blanketed to use all powers to do an efficient job.

PCSO's are also heavily criticised for not having a uniform method of justice, whereas the police have certain fixed penalties and actions to combat a certain offence the PCSO's are said to be unpredictable and inconsistent. This is backed up by the following evidence; In Cheshire, Staffordshire and Cleveland not one of their PCSOs issued a penalty notice for the entire year. Whereas; West Yorkshire, Durham Thames Valley, Devon, and Cornwall PCSOs issued more than ten each. Also in Hertfordshire their PCSOS detected 1089 crimes, Humberside detected 390 and North Wales 127. Yet of the 26 forces out of 43 who responded to requests for information the majority said "detecting crimes does not form part of the role of a PCSO".

PCSO's have up to 30 different powers at their disposal during patrols, these range from powers to confiscate alcohol and tobacco to powers to seize vehicles and execute property searches in matters relating to terrorism. They however do not have the power of arrest but they are allowed to demand or request the suspect remain with them until police officers arrive. Mike Rumble [4]  who was formerly a detective and from Stourbridge stated that in these times of cuts and scale backs, of up to 20% it makes no sense at all to have a uniformed presence in the street without powers of arrest, he argues that they would be able to better assist their police colleagues if they had these powers.

The advantages clearly outweigh the pitfalls of community policing, although there is still some debate on their benefits, it is vital that for the sake of creating safer communities that the police agencies continue to turn to the community for help and in turn better assist the community. The presence of the community in the policing system is vital, and not to be underrated.