A Metropolitan Police policy document suggested a type of 'witness relocation' program for whistle-blowers, where they are moved to new locations, given new identities and new jobs. But would people be prepared for such an upheaval of their lives for the sake of professional integrity? (Daily Telegraph, 3 July 2000) As indicated, the cop culture is one in which loyalty to colleagues is extremely important, to the point of people having to choose between their 'friends or the force'.
However, it has been suggested that when people do have friends outside the force, these friends are briefed on what to say to the police if they are brought into the police station on a charge. This adds further depth to police corruption as the public is being educated in how to go about their criminal activities with minimum chance of getting arrested. (Wilson et al 2001) When police officers are suspected of police misconduct, complaints can be made to the Police Complaints Authority (PCA).
The PCA is an independent body set up to manage, among other things, complaints against the police. However, there does not seem to be much of a success regarding police complaints; the PCA itself has proposed some changes to its present system (Sampson and DeSilva 2001). One method of resolving complaints, found in the Police (Complaints) (Informal Resolutions) Regulations 1985 is informal resolution, which I believe could possibly lead to more corruption within the police.
This is because one of the rights of the accused is that he can speak to one of his co-workers about the grievance. This colleague can then attempt to settle the complaint- which could lead to calling in favours, which may involve bending of the rules, which adds further to the matter of police corruption. The final issue I intend to discuss is the one of efficiency- not in dealing with criminals per se- but with regards to the day-to-day life of a police officer and how his day could run more smoothly if certain measures were put into place.
There are many areas where the police is inefficient, usually regarding the amount of time they spend doing their activities. A report found that police officers are spending almost as much time in the police station (43. 1%) as on the street (PA Consulting). Research says this time could be lowered as a result of more civilianisation- at the front desk, for instance, where it is not necessary to have uniformed police officers. Civilianisation could also be extended to other areas, such as: i??
Analytical functions for criminal intelligence, suicide watch and preparing prosecution paperwork. Many police forces already have criminal justice units which take on the role of full file preparation where a not guilty plea is entered, but in a number of forces officers are still required to perform such basic tasks as transcribing interviews on a regular basis. i?? Prisoner processing units would take the charging and prisoner processing functions away from the responsible officer, allowing them to return to operational duties more swiftly. (Source: PA Consulting)
Employing typists would also benefit some of the older police officers as they are sometimes not as fast at typing as the younger, more computer-literate generation. The other solution for the improvement of police efficiency is the upgrading of the IT systems which are presently being used. They are ancient, extremely inefficient and causes police officers to spend more time doing paperwork than is necessary. A new integrated system, which would eliminate the need to input the same data and information several times by different police officers, is something the police could benefit from.
Although this is, perhaps, a bit too big a step for the police to take; maybe the first step should be to buy some more computers as police officers spend a lot of their time waiting around for computers to become available (PA Consulting). Another factor which adds to the inefficiency of the police is the much more basic problem of lack of mobile phones. Police officers are reluctant to use their radios for long periods of time, for example if they need to phone in details of a crime- which reduces wasted time as a result of not needing to drive to and from the station- in case of important incoming messages.
Asking the victims permission to use their telephones seems inappropriate. The use of laptops would also contribute to the reduction of time-wasting because details of the crime could be entered into the system at the scene of the crime, where the victim is, possibly, more comfortable than in the unfamiliar surroundings of the police station. All of the aforementioned evidence suggests that there are many flaws in the police force. Admittedly, there is need for improvement of the method of measuring police efficiency itself.
However, I have established that there are many problems within the police itself- until police corruption is eradicated, how is the public supposed to have faith in the police? This lack of confidence plays a major role in the underreporting of crime. And until people report more crimes the police cannot attempt to improve crime statistics. Even the more basic aspects of running a police station needs to be looked at- starting with 'baby-steps' such as investing in some mobile phones or laptops could do a lot for the improvement of the police.
In conclusion, I believe that the police does not reduce and prevent crime effectively and that there are many areas of the police which need to be improved in order to for them to be able to do so.
Bibliography Brewer, J. D. (1991) "Policing in Divided Societies: Theorising a Type of Policing" Policing and Society 1/3: 179-191 in Bowling, B. and Foster, J. , Policing the Police, p. 984 in Maguire M. , Morgan, R. and Reiner, R. (eds. ) (2002) The Oxford Handbook of Criminology Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 980-1022 Cook, D. (1997)
Poverty, Crime and Punishment London: Child Poverty Action Group, p17 in Lawson, T. and Heaton, T. (eds. ) (1999) Crime and Deviance London: Macmillan Press Ltd Daily Telegraph (3 July 2000) in Wilson, D. , Ashton, J. and Sharp, D. (2001), What Everyone in Britain Should Know About the Police, London: Blackstone Press Ltd. Guardian (9 March 1999) in Wilson, D. , Ashton, J. and Sharp, D. (2001), What Everyone in Britain Should Know About the Police, London: Blackstone Press Ltd.