The first half of 2022 saw the launch of the report A New Model of Protection, which contains the final paper of the strategic review of policing in England and Wales. The report is based on the desire to redesign public safety for the 21st century.
The paper is set in the early days of the creation of policing in England, characterised by the development of a policing model in which the work of officers did not depend primarily on the use of power, but rather on confidence and cooperation with society. Unfortunately, 200 years later, they recognise that there is a crisis of public confidence in police institutions.
The report finds that the percentage of people who think the police do a good or excellent job has been declining in recent years. And that lack of confidence in the police is most pronounced in London, related in part to recent cases of police misconduct. However, this report reveals that there are also much deeper, long-standing causes why this model of policing no longer seems able to meet society’s expectations.
However, it is not only society that has lost its confidence, many police officers have also done so, as despite working hard and having a desire to serve the citizen, they too often feel inadequate. Another cause would be the impact of austerity between 2010 and 2017. The number of police officers decreased from 143,000 to around 123,000, which resulted in citizens complaining that they did not see uniformed police officers on the streets and therefore felt less safe.
In this regard, frustration in the police also arises from the fact that they only collect theft reports superficially in order to give free rein to insurance companies, but there is no investigation behind them. All this is occurring in a time of profound changes due to globalisation and the evolution of technology. 40% of all reported crimes are frauds, and most of them cyber.
The report highlights that crime in the digital age is being tackled with an analogue policing approach. The police have also become a public service of last resort, picking up on the previous failures of other social services, such as missing persons calls, most of which come from young people in care.
To address some of these issues, the paper proposes, among others:
- A radical shift towards a more systemic preventive approach. It proposes the creation of a Crime Prevention Agency, with strong regulatory powers, especially for businesses.
- Significantly improve the capacity to tackle cross-border crime and organised crime. It proposes the creation of a National Crime Agency.
- Strengthen local and neighbourhood policing. This would be the best way to restore society’s confidence in the police.
- Provide police officers with better tools to perform their job and encourage the entry of qualified people with specialised skills through salary supplements.