Public & the Police in the UK
By Harriet Sergeant
Distributed by Coronet Books Inc.
84 pages, 5 x 7 7/8"
$14.00 Paper Original
Expenditure on the police force is at record levels but there is widespread public dissatisfaction and a steep increase in complaints against the police. Police are rarely seen in their communities. It is hard to get them to respond to reports of crime; investigations are lacklustre and often abandoned.
The police, in their turn, complain of being short of resources. Although police numbers are historically high, compared with other developed countries they are low. Furthermore, crime rates in England and Wales are amongst the highest in the developed world, so the workload of officers is unmanageably large. Officers have been submerged by a flood of paperwork, so that only 14 percent of their time is spent on patrol.
The public have no power to influence policing. All decisions are taken by politicians, but there is no accountability within the system. Centralisation has led to the introduction of targets. Bonuses are paid to senior officers based on compliance with targets. In order to achieve the required level of detections, police officers pursue those who will yield easy convictions, such as speeding motorists or high-spirited students, rather than the serious and persistent offenders who are destroying the quality of life in communities.
Police officers swear an oath of allegiance to the Queen, not the Prime Minister. Unlike many other police forces, British police were not intended ti be servants of the state, but of the communities they serve. Their powers are personal, used at their own discretion and derived from the crown. The essential feature of British policing - policing by consent - is now in jeopardy.
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