Community policing is a core element of the policing model in England and Wales. Over the past two years, the police have played a vital role in enforcing lockdown restrictions in the community. Additionally, the BLM protests during the summer of 2020 shed light on the public perceptions of the police.

Community engagement, building public trust, and improving community safety are now important priorities for police forces, local authorities, and their partners across the UK.

Public Confidence in Community Policing

The Government published a report in May 2021 examining the key facts and figures around public confidence in local police forces [1].

  • In the year ending March 2020, 74% of people aged 16 and over in England and Wales said they had their confidence in their local police
  • In every year examined, a lower percentage of Black Caribbean people had confidence in their local police than White British people
  • In the 3 years from April 2017 to March 2020, a higher percentage of people in the Asian, White and, Other ethnic groups had confidence in their local police than Black people

The report compiled data which shows the percentage of people aged 16 and over who said they had confidence in their local police. The key findings included:

  • A higher percentage of White students (83%) had confidence in their local police than Black students (65%)
  • Among people in ‘routine and manual jobs’, a higher percentage of Asian people (80%) had confidence in their local police than people from Mixed (67%) and White (74%) groups
  • Among long-term unemployed people, a higher percentage of Asian people (86%) had confidence in their local police than Black (72%) and White (71%) people

The Policing Vision 2025 Report

In 2016, The National Police Chiefs’ Council and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners published the Policing Vision 2025 [2].

Local policing is one of the 5 key areas identified in the report and it remains more important than ever. In it the NPCC & APCC set out their vision for what policing will look like in 2025:

“The link between communities and the police will continue to form the bedrock of British policing. Local policing will be tailored to society’s complex and diverse needs – with the delivery of public protection being informed by community priorities and robust evidence-based demand analysis.”

“By 2025 local policing will be aligned, and where appropriate integrated, with other local public services to improve outcomes for citizens and protect the vulnerable.”

The Challenges Facing Local Policing

The Policing Vision 2025 report outlined the challenges facing local policing in the coming years. These include:

  • A need to maintain the valued UK policing reputation that is admired worldwide, whilst adapting to changes both to communities and to public expectation of the police force
  • Knowing which services to provide and when to provide them, for example when responding to those with mental health needs
  • Most forces do not have a thorough understanding of demand, which makes it difficult for them to transform services intelligently
  • Officers that work with the community need to engage more with a range of partner agencies including health, education, social services, and other emergency services

Recommendations

The report states that by 2025 policing will be increasingly focused on proactive and preventative activity, as opposed to reacting to crime once it has happened. [2]

Additionally, by improving understanding of local vulnerabilities both in physical and virtual locations local policing can be better tailored to the different needs of the community.

Local forces will support multi-agency neighbourhood projects that build more cohesive communities and solve local problems. These initiatives should be enhanced by further Government funding to ensure projects are not undermined by differing boundaries.

Future Strategy

The Strategic Review of Policing in England and Wales is set to be published in the Autumn of 2021 [3]. A number of Insight Papers and an Interim Report will be included in the review.

The work of the review is being guided by an advisory board that includes former senior police officers, politicians, and leading academics.

It has been funded by the CGI, the Dawes Trust, Mark43 and Deloitte. Further contributions are being sought.

There will be two phases of the review, The first will assess and define the challenges the police should be prepared to face over the coming decades. The second phase will look at the capabilities it will need to meet these challenges.

Each stage of the review will draw on evidence from across the government, the police service, academia, business, and community groups.

A programme of events will be run across the country to enable police officers and members of the public to have their say about the future of policing.

[1] GOV.UK. 2021. Confidence in the local police

[2] National Police Chief’s Council. 2016. Policing Vision 2025

[3] The Strategic Review of Policing in England and Wales. 2021.

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Community policing is as important today as it has ever been. This article provides insights into the current challenges local forces are facing and the strategies that are in place to tackle them.

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