THE HOME OFFICE is seeking views on the government’s vision for policing.
The consultation document Policing in the 21st Century: Reconnecting police and the people signals “the most radical change to policing in 50 years” according to Theresa May, the Home Secretary.
The proposals in the document include:
- Abolition of Police Authorities and introducing directly elected Police and Crime Commissioners;
- freeing up officers’ time to get on with their jobs, out and about in local communities and not tied up in paperwork or meetings;
- a single national police non-emergency number for reporting crime – likely to be “101”.
The main thrust of the document is a call for wider community involvement in policing; an approach to cutting crime that makes sure everyone plays their full part in a “Big Society”.
Police and Crime Commissioners will be expected to become powerful representatives of the public that can increase engagement and accountability – with real public participation in policing and not just passive consent. They will be responsible for ensuring that local public ‘beat meetings’ will be held regularly to hold police to account at a local level.
These beat meetings would take place at times and in places that are widely advertised; and might be held in supermarkets, old people’s homes and schools – or online, via virtual beat meetings, Facebook or Twitter.” from consultation document.”
Active citizens will be encouraged to volunteer with the police to help fight and prevent crime in communities.
This all sounds very promising and encouraging, but a lot of this engagement work is already being attempted locally:
- A programme of public Police Community Forum meetings are already taking place arranged by Humberside Police Authority;
- the local neighbourhood police team already regularly make themselves available at the local Co-op Police Surgeries;
- Humberside Police have a Police Service Volunteers programme in place.
It could be argued that the above do not engage with the public in sufficient numbers to be effective – they suffer from “passive consent” rather than active participation. The Community Forum in South West Holderness in particular seems dogged by low public participation.
The consultation document specifically asks: What more can the Government do to support the public to take a more active role in keeping neighbourhoods safe and encourage more people to volunteer?
As a starter the Hedon Blog has already suggested that online meetings might be successful in getting more people inolved.