Changes in police philosophy and practice

The social, economic and political dynamics of worlds demography has greatly impacted on every aspect of human life. Increase in population for instance has strained the available resources to an extent of depletion. The provision of social amenities such as security and safety services to the people has therefore become a challenge to many authorities in the world. Moreover, the population increase is characterized by increase in societal ills such as high crime rates, increased insecurity as well as increase in unemployment. For instance, there have been concerns in the Criminal Justice System in UK in the past and its ability to provide services equally and equitably to all the people. Despite, the differences in the racial and ethnic backgrounds of people in a societal setting, it is within the jurisdiction of the government through the criminal justice system to ensure justice is restored.

The police service is therefore used by the government to enforce law and order to the public while ensuring justice and fairness to all. Police act as a link between the people and the criminal justice system and therefore directly affect the day-to-day lifestyle of the people. However, the relationship between the police and the public is an overriding factor as far as the delivery of such services is concerned (Travis, 2009).

Policing has undergone major changes since early 20th century. To start with, the police force adopted strategies to curb the widespread resistance that was eminent by then. These strategies were developed to guide the metropolitan police in their service delivery. Their successful implementation in Britain improved the relationship between the law enforcers and the public. Police force could not only be viewed law enforce but also service providers to the community. This harmonious and cohesive relationship enhanced the service delivery in Britain. The nature of relationship between the police and the public has however changed (Adlam  Villiers, 2003). Negative attitude towards the police force especially by the youth has been on the rise. The youthful group has developed fear, anger and hostility against the police force as a result of lack of confidence in the force. Additionally, the public has increasingly lost trust in the police force due to anti-social nature of the police. The March 2008 killing of a teenager by police in Greece for instance sparked anger among the youths thereby fuelling protests in the country. This is one of the scenarios where police practices have changed and the police-public relationship worsened (Narduzzo, 2007). The police force has been seen to apply the law unequally and have been cited as racists in their duties. In London for instance, the security agents have been targeting the youths with African-Caribbean origins under the powers bestowed upon them in section 44 of the 2000 terrorism Act. The police stops and searches anyone they think fall in the profile or terrorism. However, Narduzzo (2007) claims that this law has been discriminatively and ethnically applied against the African Caribbean communities in London. Statistics show that African-Caribbean population is about 2.4 of the total population in Britain but constitute about one tenth of the male prisoners. Furthermore, the black males were more often stopped by the police compared to their white counterparts (Narduzzo, 2007). This approach changed after the September 11th and July 7th terrorist attacks in Washington and London respectively. The police in London have diverted their attention from the local crimes to tackling international terrorism. They have embarked on strategies aimed at identifying and arresting potential suspects of terrorism. However, the fight against terrorism has been seen as a fight against specific groups of racial and religious background and not against the vice. The stop-and-search approach has been redirected to the people of Muslim and Asian origin. This shift in police practice has yielded no fruits as not a single conviction for offense related to terrorism has ever been made from the massive arrests of such suspects hence the public outcry of unequal application of the law by the security agents in Britain (Travis, 2009).

There has been minimal contact between the community and the police in the recent past. The security agents only intervene in societal matters when there is a breach of security somewhere in the society. This opposes the advocacy for community policing which is an important philosophy in the police service. Community policing encompasses the social roles of the police service and this can only be achieved through continuous cooperation between the police and the community (Fielding, 2010).

Additionally, community policing install a sense of trust and confidence among the public. The public confidence and trust in the police service is not only established by the effective handling of crime in the society but also the general social and moral behavior of the force in the society (Jackson and Sunshine, 2007).

The British police have been acknowledged for their minimal use of force while carrying out their duties. The Criminal Justice System has adopted strict laws that govern the use of firearms by the police officers in an attempt to reduce unnecessary shooting of suspects that have been witnessed in the past. The firearms are issued to the officers with qualified training and skills in handling the deadly weapon. The public can now sue the police upon unnecessary shooting as well as brutality by the officers (Miller, James  Coady, 2000). The Daily Correspondent reported in its daily edition of Thursday, 8th March 2007, that a police officer by the name PC Anthony Mulhall was sued and is undergoing investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission. Police officers are convicted upon committing such crimes. However, this never used to happen in the past. The laws favored the police force making them superior. The police could in the past shoot and walk away with the crime. In 1979 for instance, police officer shot and killed a teacher from East London Mr. Blair Peach during a demonstration (Socialist worker, 2009).

The rise in rates of crime and disorder in the society may be blamed on the ineffectiveness in the police force. Reduction in crime rate in the nineteenth century in Britain was attributed to the increased detection rates of such crimes by the security agents. This demonstrated effectiveness of the security agents. However, the current criminal activities are more complex and the offenders are more intelligent therefore modern strategies have to be put in place to counter the rising crime rate. Police force is currently subjected to modern and elaborate training in addition to the use of modern equipments such as Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) in surveillance hence increased detection of criminal activities (Tilley and Painter, 1999). There has been a commendable success in the use of such cameras. For instance, the massive installation of CCTV cameras across cities in Britain helped the police launch a raid in Hampshire as well as arrest a suspect involved in bomb blasts in Brixton and Brick Lane (Davis, 2003).Finally, the police force has been subjected to annual pay review by the police Staff Association in Britain. This however, depends on the region of operation as well as competence of the officer. The increased police remuneration motivates the force leading to increased productivity (Chan, 1997).

The police force is held accountable for their activities in the society. In the past for instance, the British police was protected against any external influence from any arm of the government. This meant that the force could not be subjected to any kind of scrutiny by a government elected by the people. It installed a sense of autonomy in the police service in the early 19th century.  The British government however changed this system through restructuring of the police service by introducing policy that governs the force hence their control. This ensured responsiveness of the police to the electorate (Vigh  Shelley, 1995). Public confidence in the force is further installed through provisions that allow individual officers to sue and be sued. Additionally, the modern policy regarding police accountability has also adopted a complaint system that is open and accessible to all. In Britain, the public can launch a complaint against an individual officer or the general police body through the public complaints committee (Walker 2005).

There has been a remarkable change in the practice of the police force over the past few years. The Criminal justice system has faced hurdles in the past while trying to deliver services to the public. This has been attributed to the infrastructural and leadership problems in addition to the negative police culture that has been developed by the force. Furthermore, the bureaucratic procedures in the police force contribute to delayed service delivery and should therefore be cut to ensure faster delivery since justice delayed is considered as justice denied. The police are vessels used by the criminal justice system to provide justice to the public. Their social behavior, accountability, effectiveness as well as competence are key factors that have been enhanced in the changes. However, a lot of reforms have to be done to further strengthen the police force as well as ensuring their independence. This is important due to advancement in technology and consequent rise in crime rates as well as techniques applied in criminal activities.


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