What role for policing in securing economic and social well-being? On the dangers of ‘great expectations’ Adam Crawford Centre for Criminal Justice Studies University of Leeds
Aim To raise a number of critical issues concerning contemporary policy trends and their implications for the role of policing in securing economic and social well-being: • The capacious mission of the public police in responding to and managing public perceptions – ‘the reassurance agenda’. • The growing mixed economy of ‘plural policing’. • The ‘marketisation of policing’ – policing as a business and the entry of the police into the selling of services.
My contention In an increasingly complex division of labour in policing we need to: • (i) be aware of the limitations of the role of the public police and the dangers of raising false expectations; • (ii) consolidate and clarify the boundaries between the roles, responsibilities and capabilities of diverse policing agents; • (iii) harness the efforts of plural policing providers in the furtherance of public safety; • (iv) attend to questions about the (in)equitable distribution of security and the legitimacy of security providers/personnel; and • (v) secure suitably robust forms of governance to ensure policing is delivered in accordance with democratic values of justice, equity, accountability and effectiveness.
Conceptual premise • We need to ensure that we are talking about policingas an undertaking performed by diverse actors rather than as a short-hand for ‘what the police do’! • Policing is not, nor has it ever been, reducible to activities of the state police. • It is only since the 19th century that a state-centred conceptualisation of policing has fostered the ‘myth’ of monopolistic sovereign state authority. • Liberalism’s intellectual claim to define policing solely in terms of the question of crime • The institutional birth of the ‘new’ police
Managing ‘Great Expectations’ • Public policing resources are finite and have to be funded/prioritised. • As public policing is essentially a free service to those who call upon it, there is a potentially infinite demand for it. Too much demand, however, will produce congestion. • As a reactive service, a problem for the police is that theirmandate is defined largely by the publics that call upon them. • Prioritising and rationing policing as a scarce public good in response to conflicting demands are intrinsic aspects of policing. • Prioritisation is rarely overt, in the sense of clear and formal choices, more often it is covert and informal. • Police have the capacity – and tendency – to fuel demand for their own services. • A demand which continually outstrips their own ability to meet the demand generated.
Recent drivers and indicators of change • The pluralisation of policing as a trend is evident both within and beyond the police organisation. • The break-up of the idea of the omni-competent police constable – throughworkforce modernisation and civilianisation. • The growing entry of the police into the security market – where the introduction of PCSOs has significantly increased the competitive edge of the police. • Accreditation schemes afford opportunities for the police to work with third party providers and enhance the standing / powers of private and municipal policing personnel. • The advent of national licensing and regulation by the SIA is likely to increase the price and quality of private security.
‘The market for reliable reassurance provision is infinite. We have more wealth, leisure time and opportunities these days and yet feel more and more vulnerable in our communities. Why should the police maintain the monopoly when it comes to providing reassurance?’ Sir Norman Bettison, Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police, seminar in Prescot on 6 November 2003
Police service strength by type of police worker, at 31 March 2008, England and Wales
BSIA Members Number of Employees by Sector (1991-2006) Source: BSIAsee http://www.bsia.co.uk/ The number of member companies supplying statistics has risen from 174 in 1991 to 549 at the end of 2006.
Growth of Private Security • Total turnover of BSIA member companies - £4.33 billion. • Total turnover of BSIA security guarding companies - £1.575 billion (2006). Source: http://www.the-sia.org.uk/home/licensing/stats_2.htm
Challenges of Pluralisation • Public values coalesce around, and collide with, private and parochial interests. • Mixed economy has developed unevenly, exhibiting a poorly organised division of labour. • Relations vary considerably from effective co-production through partnerships to mutual indifference and rivalry. • All too often, relations are ill-coordinated, suffer duplication and are marked by competition and mistrust. • Historically, there has been weak accountability and segmented regulation. • The short-term nature of security contracts and govt funding further undermines coordination efforts.
Turning ‘inside out’ the police mandate • Whereas the 1990s saw a significant narrowing of the police mandate drive by managerialist performance indicators tied to reactive crime fighting… • Since about 2000-2002 we have seen a dramatic expansion in the police mission. • The police role is now to ‘reassure’ an insecure public and to foster environments that are conducive to attract capital, businesses and visitors.
Tony Blair articulated the reassurance paradox: ‘the other thing I have learnt in over 8 years of being Prime Minister is that you can argue about statistics until the cows come home and there is usually a very great credibility gap between whatever statistics are put out and whatever people actually think is happening, but the real point is not about statistics, it is about how people feel… because the fear of crime is as important in some respects as crime itself.’ (Speech to a conference by Safer Croydon partnership 10th February 2006)
Public perceptions • Realisation that public perceptions matter. • Acknowledgement that perceptions about local social order are disproportionately shaped by low level incivilities and anti-social behaviour. • Influence of ‘broken windows’ thesis and ‘signal crime’ theory. • Posits a police solution to insecurity: Implications for raised expectations? • Stretches an already ‘vast and unmanageable social domain’ into newer, more impossible realms of subjective anxieties and private fears.
Performance measurement • New single national target for police - confidence in local police dealing with the anti-social behaviour and crime issues that matter in their area. • Target is to increase confidence from baseline 45% in 2007/8 to 60% by 2012 – with local variations. • LAA targets for local partnerships relating to public perceptions of anti-social behaviour. • These (i) tie police performance to dynamics that lie beyond police control and (ii) fail to attend to the more fundamental levers of confidence – namely legitimacy and trust.
The legitimate exercise of authority • Normative base for why people obey legal authorities and have confidence in them is strongly linked to perceptions of legitimacy. • Personal legitimacy resides in the competency and honesty of legal authorities / police. • Institutional legitimacy exists where the role of legal authorities entitles them to make decisions which ought to be deferred to, complied with, and obeyed. • Those with greatest contact with the police have lowest levels of confidence. • Experiences of procedural justice and respectful treatment significantly affect perceptions of legitimacy and confidence in the police with implications for legal compliance.
Responsive policing and community engagement can facilitate trust and confidence • Local policing teams can make significant strides in improving local trust and confidence in the police and facilitating economic and social well-being. • Neighbourhood teams also enable genuine problem-solving drawing on local knowledge and capacity.
New legitimacy dilemmas • The pluralisation of policing raises key questions about linkages between legitimacy, authority and state power. • Questions over the legitimacy of PCSOs notably in terms of their capacity for authoritative action and uncertain public expectations over (limits to) their roles, responsibilities and powers. • Despite regulation (via the SIA), there remain fundamental questions about the legitimacy and accountability of private security and neighbourhood wardens.
‘Responsive’ to whom? • Rationalistic approach to targeting resources – i.e. NIM – versus a new found emphasis on subjective anxieties and public perceptions. • Differential capacity for certain communities and businesses to articulate demands and voice needs. • Knowledge of service provision • Ability to organise local constituents – social networks • Political influence and financial clout • The capacity to demand is not tantamount to need. • What of the hard-to-reach? The subjects of policing?
Skewing public resources? • Where a (quasi-)public good is rivalrous, it is liable to ‘capture’ by private or parochial interests. • As public policing is largely demand-led, the creation of new demands by private interests and vocal parochial interests can skew scarce resources. • Examples of: • The night-time economy; • Neighbourhood watch; • Private security patrols in residential areas; • Dispersal orders. In relation to security there is often an inverse relationship between activity and need
The sceptic's interpretation of reassurance policing • The ‘manipulation of appearances’ in the face of the police’s inability to accomplish their self-proclaimed ‘impossible mandate’ (Manning 1977). • Quest to foster organisational legitimacy – the right answer to a different question? Albeit wrongly measured! • Quest to secure scarce public resources and compete within the growing market. • An attempt to reclaim a ‘police solution’ to the dilemma of contemporary insecurities. • Political expediency - making a visible difference – being seen to be doing something.
In conclusion It is no longer realistic to think of policing in terms of the public police alone. “Community safety is no longer the sole preserve of the police and must instead be at the heart of local partnership working, bringing together different agencies in a wider neighbourhood management approach.” (Flanagan 2008: 67) • Limitations to a policing solution to the problems of security and order – can fuel anxieties, heighten intolerance and solidify lines of difference. • Simply responding to public demands for greater security and crude measurements of confidence may fail to subject public demands and expectations to some kind of reasoned debate and local dialogue.