Police ‘must focus on crime prevention as cuts kick in’
By Mark Smulian | 27 September 2012
Funding cuts mean policing will have to focus on crime prevention rather the reactive approach taken since the 1970s, according to inspectors.
The Inspectorate of Constabulary’s Taking time for crime report, issued today, examined support given to frontline police officers to prevent crime as lack of money presses the service to adapt its approach.
Chief Inspector Sir Denis O’Connor said: ‘No longer can the police operate as they have – in a predominantly reactive way that chases increasing demand for service. This is especially true in these times of austerity where more is needed from less.
‘Now is the time to return to a preventive policing approach; one which was the foundation of modern policing in 1829, but was lost in the 1970s – as the service invested new technology in a predominantly reactive system of policing that is no longer sustainable.’
The watchdog’s study found that uniformed officers and detectives spent at least 80% of their time on crime, but faced barriers to their effectiveness.
These included weaknesses in operational and technological support – only one of 19 basic technology operating systems needed for work away from police stations was consistently available – and lack of priority for training in crime prevention, which was only one among 190 modules taught.
Mission statements on crime fighting priorities differed widely between and even within forces, sowing further confusion over how resources should be used, the inspectorate said.
It added that the imminent creation of the College of Policing should be used to improve training in crime prevention, to ‘professionalise what is currently a craft-based operation’ and by ‘making evidence-based practice the primary driving force for action, rather than experience and habit’.