British Policing: A Crime In Progress!

Process of perception conceptually

As regular readers will know, I’ve banged on about Crime Statistics and Target Driven performance management in policing for what seems like an eternity now. The worrying fact is that I’m not the only one but moreover, those observations are still falling on deaf ears…

For some time The Thin Blue Line has been explaining how books are ‘cooked’ within the crime recording process and how the gaming still continues. The TBL site has produced a useful set of resources in their series of reports on the subject.

A recent article by Inspector Simon Guilfoyle also looked at the effect of numerical targets in public services, with a particular focus on the police in the UK. For those who don’t wish to read over 6,000 words, that article can be summarised as follows:

  • Priorities are important.
  • Performance measurement when done properly is useful.
  • Numerical targets are bad.

Simon has previously pointed out in his blog that; policing is not alone in the public sector with its use of flawed performance measurements and spurious target driven process.

As more of Simon’s ilk become firmly ensconced within the service could the politicians (and senior officers) finally be starting to squirm a bit?

I doubt it, even people like Simon are being ignored, a factor I find strange and worrying in itself. For Simon is one of the ‘new breed’ of police officers, the type that is academically qualified and intellectually sound. These are the exact traits or ‘virtues’ that our senior officers and political masters have apparently been hankering after for so long.

Despite the raft of evidence based comment from experienced policing practitioners available for all to see, our politicians (and some police leaders) prefer not to listen to us. Why aren’t the politicians listening to the type of “educationally superior” officers that they so obviously crave (see here)? They won’t because unfortunately for the government, many of the observations and concerns being voiced don’t fit their personal and political agenda.

I (and many others) agree that some changes in British policing may be long overdue (see here), but many of those changes currently being implemented have been enforced by ‘observers’ from outside the policing process. I also understand that any external examination of a process can be a good thing when trying to improve a system however; those external to a process rarely have a full and true understanding or comprehension about all the real internal processes involved in that system.

Whilst there are some within policing who have been angered about all the personal impacts of austerity enforced change, as with the pensions and/or conditions of service for individual officers however; there are also just as many (if not more) intelligent and well-educated individuals who are concerned about the impacts of these changes upon our society.

They are concerned how things will impact upon the service delivery of policing. The impacts that will affect our society as a whole, as opposed to just thinking about the financial aspects impacting upon their personal life as police officers, or how they will impact upon the financial future and security for their families.

Whilst we continue to allow all this partly irreparable but mostly political damage to our police service I have to ask; will British policing ever regain the respect and status that it once held in the world? I doubt it?