One of the fundamental failings in British policing today is; the service has become far too mechanical in its methods and their interaction with the public. Let me try to explain…
Firstly, current training seems to develop a proliferation of mechanical process i.e. the individual is not encouraged to actually think about what they are doing, how they are doing it and most importantly, what will be the ultimate result of their actions. This methodology is actually promoting the creation of non thinking automatons. Ideal for managers who don’t like to be challenged but conversely, there is also a negative impact on service delivery. After all, how many members of the public would actually want to be policed robotically?
Secondly, despite the prevailing drive towards statistical analysis as an almost sole measure of performance in recent years, policing like any other human interaction is not, all black or white per se. Contrary to popular (academic) belief, there are realistically large amounts of grey.
Thirdly and probably even more relevant; in many ways the service has become awash with blindly applied (often misunderstood) process theories, wiz bang management models and the latest must have method theories. As a consequence numerous (expensive) working hours are expended by managers and administrators. Time spent in theorising and formulating policy statements, mission statements, service pledges, community commitment documents and inter-departmental Service Level Agreements (SLAs) etc.
It’s a pity similar levels of energy couldn’t be invested in developing formal (and legally binding) SLAs between the police and other agencies who continually abdicate responsibility however, that’s another story and I digress slightly.
Much of our valued concept of ‘policing by concent’ actually requires us to have human ‘thinking’ police officers to effectively deliver it. Yes these officers have to be well-trained, professional and impartial but they also require skills of empathy, understanding, a social sense of right & wrong (not just a legal one). We also require them to have a high level of discretionary decision-making ability, one that in many ways has been systematically eroded.
Over recent years society has (eventually) come to bemoan the resulting effects of a Nanny State, one which dictates our every move and process. As we are continually informed (and I remind you) the police supposedly reflect our society, doesn’t it also follow that we are creating nannied robotic police officers?