Apr 24 2014

Guest Post: Full Circle Policing

guest_postFirst we had the Bobby on the Beat.

Then we had Sector Policing.

Then we had Ward Policing.

Then we had Safer Neighbourhood Policing.

Now we have Clusters. Look very much like the sectors we use to have!

Full Circle?

Thanks to K for the words.

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  1. sonoo malkani

    Perhaps it’s escaped people’s minds that many things in our world come back full circle,after most new things have been tried.It’s so in schooling,fashion and so many other sectors –public and private.So,why be surprised.?

    I often see Commonwealth countries such as India where the British have left behind excellent institutions—some creaking but working very well even to this day!Being of Indian origin,I am mystified why we jettison what works beautifully in the name of modernising.That’s not to say we should not move forward.

    In India,we STILL have school assembly and uniforms and DISCIPLINE which seems to be coming back into fashion here—at long last!Respect for teachers is a given.I am sure many “old fashioned”practices will begin to emerge and bring benefits to our society.

  2. John Clement

    Excellent I’m looking for the following things to return full circle to Harrow: -People say please & thank you & hold doors open. People not babbling down mobiles in public spaces. Lads not hanging around outside shop doorways. No fly tipping and careless disposal of waste thuus less rodents & insects. Dr’s appointments in 1-2 days. Seats available on buses. Green space to recliam affordable housing. The highest % of graduates in Britain, rather than the highest % of low wage earners) -You know just as Harrow used to be 30 years ago when it was a nice pla ce to live, before it became an overcrowded run down ghetto.

  3. sonoo malkani

    First and foremost,please stop putting Harrow down and calling it an “overcrowded rundown ghetto”.How insulting!Please buck your ideas up.Many of us love our borough,warts and all,and resent such negative comments.

    YOU have the power to make things happen.YOUR PERSONAL VISION of Harrow is what will make Harrow great.Denigrating won’t!

    Yes,we all love some of the things you have mentioned but the world has moved on.Nostalgia is great ,up to a point.In the real world,we must have the courage and determination to ring in the changes we desire so dearly.Nobody else is going to do it for you.


    “BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE”. Bottom line–it’s your responsibliity and mine!So,start working to help restore some of these good things.

    Forgive me for repeating ,endlessly, a quote which is deeply embedded in my psyche

    JOHN F KENNEDY famously said

    “ASK NOT WHAT YOUR COUNTRY CAN DO FOR YOU BUT WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR COUNTRY”.—-applicable on a borough-wide basis as well and just as true today as it was when he first spoke these inspirational words.

    I have full faith in Harrovians.Together we can achieve so much.

  4. PraxisReform

    When someone pointed out that this was a return to ‘Sector’ policing over at The Harrow Times, back in September last year, they were quickly rounded upon and legal actions very nearly ensued. And, although quotes are usually fun, the philosopher George Santayana tells us “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.

    So, since Harrow’s police have been deemed to have been onto a losing streak with Ward Policing and Safer Neighbourhood Policing, our clueless politicians should have been asking a very simple question “Why the new model?”.

    But, as usual, they’re too busy playing at politics, rather than asking tough questions…

    My understanding is that ‘Sector’ policing was first introduced in the 1980’s as a result of the police needing to “be seen to be doing something”, and thus a scheme full of vacuous “management speak” that could beguile the best of us was born.

    The claims in plain English were that instead of Officers being roughly equally divided between three 8-hour shifts, irrespective of fluctuations in workload, the new arrangement allocated teams of officers round-the-clock responsibility for geographical areas within their divisions, which supposedly allowed managers to match the availability of staff more closely to demand for police services.

    The scheme was overoptimistic, and whereas the original blueprint had called for one Inspector with overall responsibility for each ‘sector’, oftentimes the ‘sectors’ were headed by two or three Inspectors, so there was no clear accountability as to who was controlling the ‘sector’. And, whereas previously, Officers could be drawn away, to police demonstrations in another area for example and then be covered by overtime from the other shifts, under the ‘sector’ scheme, all the officers were now allocated, and thus couldn’t easily be transferred to other duties.

    More importantly, what was overlooked was that ‘sectors’ can’t be created by arbitrary lines on a map, since communities don’t work like that, and thus we ended up with community policing – whereby police officers supposedly become so deeply involved in the life of that community that they feel responsible for what happens in their beat areas, and the residents who live there learn to trust them and work with them… But, this is course is complete nonsense, since police officers only seem to stay in one area for a few months before they’re off again to a new area, while Gareth Thomas always seems to be bemoaning the fact that Harrow is apparently short of police officers.

    What I understand here is that police work isn’t all car chases and “nicking” armed robbers, but is actually quite mundane, and has become increasingly boring as Bus conductors, Janitors and Park keepers have been phased out; so the police are now de facto first call to intervene with what are effectively squabbles over dog fouling or parking disputes, rather than what they regard as “proper” policing (i.e. car chases and “nicking” armed robbers).

    So, I say that the police have become resentful of the people that they are working for, and have little motivation to actually do the job they are being paid to do. Poor management and leadership within the police force has meant that the politicians again have to spin the wheel and “be seen to be doing something”, before the public realises just how bad things have gotten and how ineffectual they really are.

    Therefore, what we need to know is:

    – How can ‘sector’ boundaries be drawn in a way that balances the requirements of organisational and administrative efficiency with the needs to foster closer links between the police and the public, as well as other key role-players at the local level?

    – How can supervision, accountability and discipline be maintained when police work is arranged at ‘sector’ level?

    – Will the police reward structures and performance measures be adjusted to reflect the goals of ‘sector’ policing?

    – How can ‘sector’ policing handle internet based crime, which seems to be the fastest growing category of crime at the moment?

    – Will the police value the supposed collaborative problem-solving aims of this new model at least as highly as more traditional short-term arrest-focused approaches to policing?

    – How can some sort of agreement be reached on the priority of crimes in a given area, instead of relying on arbitrary ideas of what “proper” crime might be?

    – Can the police provide information about local crime problems and police performance to the public in a comprehensive yet comprehensible and usable form?

    Needless to say, just like every other question I pose on this site, I suspect these too will be ignored by the police and politicians (apart from Sonoo, who I expect to repeat her usual line about how we should all like men in uniform as much as she does, and appraisal or criticism of Harrow’s police shouldn’t be allowed), so I won’t hold my breath waiting for a sensible answer.

  5. sonoo malkani

    PraxisReform you have made a number of points which the authorities mentioned can best answer.You are obviously a “quitter”otherwise you would not give up even before you have started.Stop being such a sourpuss.You would probably get more answers if you went about it differently.A little politeness goes a long way..

    Of course above and beyond your concern about changes in sector policing it seems you simply couldn’t resist having a dig at me!Talk about prejudice.

    Just for the record,,I don’t “just like all men in uniform”,I happen to like ALL WOMEN and ALL KIDS IN UNIFORM too—since,to this represents a DISCIPLINED WAY OF LIFE.I fully appreciate this may not be your cup of tea!You have every right to dislike anybody in uniform.- including cops and politicians whom you seem to obviously distrust.

    What’s more you will be horrified to know I LOVE ALL MANKIND and have great deal of respect for those who have anything POSITIVE to contribute—no matter how great or small.

    It’s a shame you did not engage closely at our police meetings over the years Otherwise you would have observed that I gave credit where it was due and CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM when the need arose—including to Harrow Police and the bosses at the Yard.

    The Harrow Police & community Consultative Group(HPCCG)regularly held bi-monthly meetings for decades and were “CRITICAL FRIENDS”of the Metropolitan Police Service.
    The attendance and participation was the envy of all eyes!Only those who had a GENUINE interest in our policing made efforts to engage in whatever way they could and helped improve the policing in our borough in whatever measure they could effect.

    The Borough Commanders and their teams were publicly held to account most robustly.Officers from New Scotland Yard paid visits whenever asked to contribute on matters of special policing interest.Harrow Council’s Community Safety Group found us most helpful We received several accolades from a number of senior professionals including the Chief Executives.What on earth were you doing when all this was going on??Are you seriously saying the PUBLIC of Harrow were sitting around rubber-stamping the Police.Give us a break!

    One other thing,I must object to in the strongest possible terms.

    SAFER NEIGHBOURHOOD POLICING has NOT been a flop as you have suggested.It has been extremely successful since its inception and is set to be the focal point of local policing.There is always room for improvement in some Wards.This is ongoing.Please don’t rubbish the excellent works conducted in 21 Ward Panels throughout Harrow, with valuable input from our Safer Neighbourhood Panels.,These are made up of a cross section of ordinary members of public from the local community community,Ward Councillors and Harrow Police.

    I have been an integral part of our Safer Neighbourhood Panel in Rayners Lane and chaired for several years.So,I have first-hand knowledge of what goes in behind the scenes.If anything,most of us would love to have more police officers on Wards that have experienced reductions,for a variety of reasons.We all would love to have more bobbies on the beat—and not for their uniforms but for keeping crime at bay!

    I humbly suggest we make our views known in more CONSTRUCTIVE manner and stop putting each other down.It’s fine to complain or criticise–just remember to do so with a genuine desire to effect something of value and not unduly make comments,which are most unproductive and often damaging.

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