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Where Are All The Police? – An Analysis of Police Resources


• Reassurance policing v. ‘managing expectations’ – officers are told the police are committed to providing the public with a quality service but frequently have to appease the public when they receive an unsatisfactory response.


• Tackling crime v. achieving target arrests and sanction detections –officers want to focus on those causing most harm to their communities yet are frequently prevented from doing so by the pressure to meet targets for sanction detections which switches that focus to more easily detectable offences.


• The insistence on strict, non-discretionary law-enforcement v. the reduction of time spent in the police station – officers are under pressure to arrest in situations where, in the past, their discretion might have led them to an alternative outcome.


• Cost cutting v. freeing up of response officer time – officer travelling time has increased due to cost-cutting measures as closing custody suites.


• Integrity v. achievement of results – officers express discomfort at having to engage in practices which achieve detection targets at the cost of criminalising citizens for minor offences.


• The investment in front-line policing v. abstractions from the 24/7 response reliefs – 24/7 officers having to work on depleted and often inexperienced relief teams despite the Home Office’s alleged commitment to investment in front line policing.


• The commitment to the development of staff v. the use of probationary constables to compensate for shortages on response reliefs – heavy reliance on probationers to staff response units despite the supposed commitment to having effectively trained and developed staff on the front line.


• The commitment to ‘joined–up’ policing and partnership v. the ‘not my remit’ culture and the development of organisational silos – officers frequently reported a lack of co-operation from other policing units where ‘that’s not in my remit’ was a commonly used phrase. This contrasts with the environment of ‘flexibility’ and ‘partnership’ that management is looking to achieve.


The appearance of chaotic reform painted by the anomalies listed above all points unequivocally to the need for a fundamental, ‘root and branch’ enquiry into the police service. This would systematically explicate the premises of modern police organisation theory and practice and assess how well suited they are to the policing needs of the 21st century. This would require a wide ranging enquiry which could pull together the lessons from the past by reviewing the literature on policing and commission its own research. It requires a Royal Commission on policing. In the meantime, measures must be taken urgently to relieve the pressures on 24/7 response officers.


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