British Policing: are we still listening to Bill Bratton? #PFTP

New York City Police Commissioner

Prior to the main thrust of recent reforms to British policing over the last decade or two, our Government were always very keen to extol the methodologies and theories of William Bratton, the Former New York City Police Commissioner.

Despite Bratton finding favour on this side of the pond as a policing ‘expert’ I have to wonder; were his ideas just the latest flavour of the month at the time or, are HM Govt still as keen to soak up all he has to say about policing? Are the government still in listening mode and if so, do Bratton’s theories and observations still have relevance to policing in the UK?

…the first and most important obligation of government to its people is to ensure freedom from fear, crime, and disorder. Without this freedom, all the pillars that support our society—education, health, freedom of speech and religion, tolerance, and equal rights—cannot be guaranteed. Police are essential to that obligation. Police count. Police matter…(William Bratton)

There is an element within politics (and policing) who have listened to Bratton, but only to the bits that suited their agenda. Bratton’s ideas and theories, although mostly sound, would always be difficult to implement in the UK. His ideas around community policing, again sound, were applied here but in most respects, only partly. The sudden creation of ‘community policing teams’ was mostly done at the expense and detriment of response policing in the UK.

If policing as a whole had continued to be done (as it once was), with community ethics, integrity and full consideration for the service delivery i.e. the actual needs of the individual customer, irrespective of he/she being a victim or offender, perhaps then we would never have arrived at the situations we have now?

Each day that I think about the relentless political tinkering over the years, that and our police process continually being used as a plaything for one after another aspirant police chiefs, I can’t help being a little sad about what is happening to policing in the UK. I also can’t help but get a little sentimental. With all the current debacles around #Plebgate, honesty and accountability etc in the service, I find the lines and tune of a Don McLean’s ‘Vincent’ running through my head.

Now I understand
What you tried to say, to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free:
They would not listen; they did not know how —
Perhaps they’ll listen now.

When will those who constantly mess with the principles of British policing start to listen to those who truly value those principles and its ultimate service delivery to our society? Probably never, their far too tied up with their own agenda and self-importance!

Reference: William Bratton and George L. Kelling, “Cops Count, Police Matter: Of Tactics and Strategy,” The Police Chief 79 (December 2012): 54–59.