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, April 29, 2013

How can social media enable citizens to take robust crime prevention action?

Tom Winsor is in many news bulletins today with such statements as:
The primary role of the police is to prevent crime, not catch criminals, the chief inspector of constabulary for England and Wales has said (BBC News)
Well, of course, we all know this and Sir Robert Peel knew that too:
The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.
The real question is whether current policies are helping or hindering this to take place. Talking about crime prevention is something that politicians, commentators and inspectors are inclined to do... but is practice (and the deployment of resources to support such practice) changing on the ground?

I wrote about the role of PCCs in crime prevention in August last year. Now that we have the Police and Crime plans, and the budgets to go with them... has much changed? Please tell me that it has.

Without having read the full report, I find stories about reintroducing Tardes (plural of Tardis? Dr?) into shopping centres being promoted by Policy Exchange a tad worrying. In an age of smart phone technology and, indeed, telephones in people's homes, is this a serious solution? (What was the problem they were trying to solve?)

But to return to crime prevention: I have batted on about the need for public agencies to spend time on nurturing the development of 'evidence based citizenship' or 'empowered citizens' for quite a while now. For me the real challenge facing all public service practitioners (including the police) is how to assist / enable / persuade / inspire members of the public to take effective action in support of safer and healthier communities. In my view, there is no bigger challenge!

Police resources are stretched and while I do think a greater slice of those resources should be stretched in the direction of crime prevention, we must always ensure there are adequate resources to respond to crime when it is required. Creating empowered citizens is one way in which our collective resources as a society can be harnessed for the benefit of us all.

One idea I was left with after the BlueLightCamp on Saturday is how can social media be used to create more empowered citizens, enabled to take robust action to prevent crime? Answers on a tweetcard to.... 

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