Human rights – The uniformed public services have a lot of control over our lives. They have the power to take away our independence, investigate our private lives, monitor our actions and use the information they find against us. However in order for these powers to be conducted they must be carefully regulated to avoid abuses by the public services against the public. As we live in a democracy, there will always be checks and balances to guarantee that no one service has power over the public that cannot be challenged.
In order to prevent this unchallenged power the public services only function with the approval and support of the public. However, even in the UK with highly qualified officers, a breach of human rights can still occur. This is why the government have issued laws to tackle this problem such as the Human Rights Act 1998. The Act makes it clear that all UK citizens have certain privileges and if these rights are broken by the public services then an individual has the right to take the service to court.
Finance – In order for the public services to operate they need a flow of funds to cover expenses such as equipment and infrastructure. Therefore the financial policies of the government have an incredible impact on the public services. Public money is so important that if the money used to fund the services is reduced then this will have an impact on the work the services can afford. An example of this is in the army where fewer officers may be appointed, they may have less specialised training and equipment and so respond less efficiently to military problems.
Equal opportunities – Is very important to the public services as most of the procedures have changed due to the significance of equal opportunities. The reason for this is the communities which these services work with; if the community has a representation of ethnic minority groups and women then the public services work will change to accommodate the community. As of today many public services are frequently employing women and individuals form ethnic minority backgrounds, although it is nowhere near perfect.
In order to tackle equal opportunities problems the government have put in place policies and legislations which have an influence on the way public services operate, for example Sikh male police officers may wear a dark blue police turban with the badge of the forces visibly revealed upon it. Equal opportunities legislation such as the Equal Pay Act, the Sex Discrimination Act and the Race Relations Act has essentially changed the way the services cooperate with their officers and the public.
Civilianisation – is a process where public service officers are released from doing repetitive administrative work and instead can concentrate on the job they were trained to do. This is really effective as employing civilians on non-operational duties is very cheap and doesn't require specialist expertise or training. Environment – The environment is a very worrying issue disturbing all parts of public life as we are constantly harming the environment with our actions.
The government will have no choice but to to tackle the environmental problems that face us as a society and so the public services are required to become more conscious of the need to recycle resources and move towards actions that limit damage to the environment. In addition, certain animals are at risk of extinction and so to prevent this some MOD areas of land have been set aside to safeguard species that may not have a chance to thrive elsewhere. Policies affecting the armed services
Declarations of war – Will have a huge and immediate impact on the military services. They will begin to be deployed almost instantly to a specific battle zone, along with their resources and equipment. They will be fighting for an aim or set of aims specified by the government. The armed services can only go in to military action if ordered by the government. As they are under strict orders they are unable pick and choose where they serve or when they serve.
The risks the services have are far reaching as there is a great chance of soldiers who are in combat or in an area of global uncertainty losing their lives. They may be killed or seriously injured by the enemy, by civilians who resent the military presence or even by friendly fire. There is also an effect on the relatives of military personnel who may experience extreme worry and stress about their loved one. When going to war it is an enormous expensive prospect and requires a variety of resources which includes ammunition and defensive equipment.
Reserve forces – Until the late 1990s military reserve forces were rarely used on active duty. In 2006 reserve forces numbered 36,000 with the majority of these coming from the Territorial Army plus around 52,000 regular reserves (former full-time army personnel who can be called up to serve). As the commitments of the armed services has grown over the last 10 years with operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, reserve forces have had to be used as an important factor of the UK fighting force.
The National Audit Office report on reserve forces in 2006 notes that over 12,000 reservists have been deployed in Iraq since 2003 and they contribute approximately 12 per cent of the fighting force. Reservist medical recruits have been very important in the army as they have operated up to 50 per cent of the field hospitals in the conflict. There are pros and cons of using reserve forces. Commanding officers have indicated that reservists may be less physically fit to handle with the demands of conflict and frequently they had not received satisfactory training or had the chance to be deployed with a regular unit.
On the plus side, they bring a wealth of experience from their civilian lives which can improve the service greatly. The government is dedicated to preserving reserve forces although they are considering policy changes on how they are trained and organized to try to bring them in line with their regular counterparts. Use of technology – The armed services have always been in the forefront with the use of technology. They have provided the incentive for the development of many areas of technology with war and conflict improving productive procedures.
This has become predominantly true in the war against terrorism where cutting-edge technology and surveillance equipment have been used by both military and civilian counter-terrorist experts to protect the public. Military aviation and missile guidance are examples of modern military technologies. Links with international services – As a result of the coordinated policy of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), of which the UK is a founder member, we are able to endure collective defence capabilities. This means that NATO forces must be able to integrate into operations faultlessly where possible.
To this end UK troops often train with NATO troops from allied nations in combat simulations. This guarantees they can be more 'combat-effective' should a situation arise where they have to cooperate. Our own three armed services, the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force and the Army, also frequently train and exercise together since they are dependent on each other for a variety of roles. Policies that affect the emergency services Fire station closures – There has been a recent sequence of fire station closures, particularly in smaller more rural areas due to stations not being utilised enough by the area.
This is despite fears from local residents that if local stations are closed it could take longer for a fire crew to reach the area in periods of emergency. Target setting – T he government sets objectives for all of the public services. Public services also set their own aims on a variety of tasks such as 999 response times, ethnic minority recruitment, female recruitment, budget spending, reductions in crime or fires, patient survival rates and many more. This can lead to an incredible amount of pressure on all levels of the public services as they work to meet the targets and avoid the possible consequences if they are not met.
For example, the reason for closing the Ringinglow fire station was that the brigade was not meeting 999 response times in certain other areas of South Yorkshire and so it needed to move the under-utilised resources to a place where they would have a better impact on targets. In this case, the corporate plan put forward by the South Yorkshire fire authority involved a new Dearne Valley fire station which would assist to meet the target set for response times in that area. This shows how government and local targets have a real impact on the operation of the services.
Social responses to UK government policies on the public services Although many features of government policy are open to public discussion there will be choices made that some of the public do not agree with and feel so strongly about that they are willing to have their say. There are several ways a society or an individual can make a response to a policy: Response Explanation and example Civil disobedience Is the active, professed refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands of a government, or of an occupying international power.
Civil disobedience is commonly, though not always, defined as being nonviolent resistance. It is usually done peacefully to highlight how unsuitable a law is and endorse the need for a change in the law. A good example of this is the case of Rosa Parks who in December 1955 didn't give up her seat on a bus to a White man when asked to do so, she was arrested and this arrest sparked a chain of events which led to the US Supreme Court deciding in 1956 that racial segregation on transportation was illegal.
Civil disobedience, even when peaceful, often entails a synchronized public service response to make sure no-one is hurt or injured. Demonstrations and meetings Meetings to debate problems with policy and decisions are very common and are a way for like-minded individuals to air their concerns in a supportive environment. Sometimes these meetings are held outdoors and involve a march or demonstration to show the government or local authority the depth of public feeling against a decision.
An example of this might be the 2009 G20 protests in London which required a police and paramedic presence as so many individuals were involved. Terrorism Terrorism is an extreme response to public policy. It involves using violence or the threat of violence against civilian and military targets in order to force the government to change its policy on a specific issue. It is usually the last resort of a group that has already tried civil disobedience and demonstration to no effect. Governments do not respond well to terrorism, and many have a policy of not negotiating with terrorists under any circumstances.
For example, in Northern Ireland in the second half of the twentieth century Loyalist and Republican terrorist groups were active in Northern Ireland and on the British mainland with great cost to civilian and military life and property. One of the worst atrocities was the bombing of a shopping centre in Omagh (1998) which killed 29 people. The UK government did not undertake the terrorists' demands. Picketing Is a form of protest in which people (called picketers) congregate outside a place of work or location where an event is taking place.
Often, this is done in an attempt to dissuade others from going in ("crossing the picket line"), but it can also be done to draw public attention to a cause. Picketers normally endeavor to be non-violent The Royal Mail Strikes in 2009 are an example of this. The public services themselves rarely strike (in fact many are forbidden from doing so by law) but the fire service has a history of national strikes, the last being in 2002. Sit-ins Sit-ins are a peaceful way of demonstrating against an issue by causing great inconvenience and delay to the people trying to implement the decision.
For example, it is a tool often used by environmental protesters who want to oppose the building of new roads. They build camps underground, in trees and generally make it impossible for work to begin safely. The Newbury bypass which opened in 1998 had a total of 29 camps set up at one point including tree houses and a tunnel network. Although the protesters didn't stop Newbury it led to a change in government thinking on the building of new roads, which led to the Salisbury bypass being stopped on the basis of the environmental impact.