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  1. Comment by davidbfpo posted on

    There is certainly an argument that in the last twenty years the police service has disengaged from the public.

    Police priorities have always been different from the public's, as polling by 'Which' magazine showed awhile ago (not aware if they still do such polling now). The public want an emergency service, some serious crime investigated (murder notably) and then attention to 'low level' disorder e.g. kids playing football.

    Along came nationally set KPIs and the police responded by an almost total dedication to 'fighting crime' by the numbers. Street robbery, house burglary and vehicle crime - which even today public meetings glaze over at the announced figures / successes.

    Add in such factors as the police use of weapons, alleged harassment of the lawful motorist, deaths in custody and many more - the gap between the police and the public has grown wider.

    Yes the police hold a few public meetings. It is rare for local senior officers, let alone a chief constable to engage directly with an unpredictable audience. Use is made of social media and some cite it is a 'two-way' process - though that is rare. One senior officer blogs regularly, but only once were any comments shown.

    Have the still new PCC's made an impact on public engagement? My own PCC has certainly tried, although being a political party PCC some of their engagement was with their party, ostensibly in public meetings that were not advertised widely. "Letting off steam" can be valuable, on a topic like Stop & Search.

    Now we face budget cuts (20-25%) which will change policing as we know it. The police's leaders will say 'neighbourhood policing' is the bedrock of British policing, time will tell if that is really true.

    Being honest with the public would be a start. Is crime really down? Which parts of policing will cease soon? How many officers are patrolling a city centre on a Saturday night?

    It is hard to recall an example of where either public engagement by a PCC and / or by a Chief Constable has actually led to a change of policy.

    Why should the public engage if the politician and the professional continue as they want?