This blog is mainly about the governance and future of policing and crime services. (Police & Crime Commissioners feature quite a lot.) But there are also posts about the wider justice system. And because I am town councillor and political activist, local & national issues are covered a little, as well.
Monday, October 15, 2012
Community Safety & the Power of We...
And the theme this year is the 'power of we'. In other words it is about what we can do together to change the world for the better. Bloggers from all over the world are writing about this topic today. Here on this blog I want to focus on how the power of we is an essential component of building safer and more peaceful communities.
Many people (including several PCC candidates, I suspect) talk about 'policing by consent' without, in my view, grasping a) the real complexity of the idea and b) just how difficult it is to achieve.
For me, policing by consent means that not only are people generally supportive of the police and see them as acting on our behalf to create safe communities but also (and critically so) people see the police as partners and take action as a consequence. This partnership is two way. Not only would we not have safe communities without the police, but also the police would not be able to function if members of the community did not work with them: providing information, ideas and challenge. For us all to benefit from living in a safe and secure society, we need to 'co-create' this social outcome. So it is not just the passive support that is part of the policing by consent, it also implies active support as well.
But this active support is not easy to achieve. Unfortunately far too many public services (including the police) have fostered the idea that citizens and taxpayers are merely passive 'customers' to be pleased rather than partners to be engaged. In many places the notion that the police are for the public and the public are for the police is a long way from the reality. The thin blue line is seen by some not as a few guards or sentinels holding positive and chaotic societies apart, but as a line dividing the police on one side and the public on the other.
We need a new kind of public service ethos that sees one of its main roles as enabling individuals, families and communities to do all that they can to create safer communities. (I have written about this before here.) I could go on, but I want to keep this blog post brief.
To bring this idea back to the present PCC elections, I sincerely hope that the PCCs who are elected see it as one their main roles to encourage and support actively this new kind of public service ethos - so that policing by consent is boosted not damaged. This will require skilful and passionate leadership.
Which one of your PCC candidates is up for that job?