Probleemgericht werken aan High Impact Crime
[329] 21 januari 2022: Policing the pandemic

Inleiding en context

Het is vandaag vrijdag 21 januari 2022. Mooi, de laatste werkdag voor het weekeinde. Nog even doorzetten en een deels vrije wereld lacht je tegemoet. Vandaag een ´kennisparel´ waarin een beschrijving wordt gegeven hoe de politieorganisatie in het Verenigd Koninkrijk is omgegaan met de nieuwe uitdagingen die de COVID-19-pandemie heeft veroorzaakt. Er wordt systematisch beschreven op welke wijze die pandemie de sterke en zwakke punten van het huidige politiemodel in Engeland en Wales heeft beïnvloed. Er gaat bijzondere aandacht uit naar de politiestructuren, gebruik van technologie, strategische planning en de relatie politie met het publiek / de bevolking. De beschreven aspecten zijn deels te vertalen naar de wijze waarop de Nederlandse politieorganisatie omgaat met de COVID-19 pandemie.

De Covid-19-pandemie stelt de politie voor ongekende uitdagingen: de handhaving van voorheen ondenkbare beperkingen die de bevolking zijn opgelegd; het beschermen van het eigen personeel tegen een potentieel dodelijk virus; en ten slotte blijven voldoen aan de reguliere eisen, zelfs onder de omstandigheden dat veel andere openbare diensten hun eigen dienstverlening drastisch hebben teruggeschroefd. Er zijn daarom zorgen dat de legitimiteit, gezondheid en de effectiviteit van het reguliere politiewerk aanzienlijk te lijden zou hebben door onder meer de extra handhavende rol op het gebied van de volksgezondheid. De politie heeft zich dus moeten aanpassen en heeft kansen moeten creëren om met deze uitdagingen om te gaan en om mogelijke lessen te trekken uit de ervaring daarmee. Een rapport waar naar mijn mening de Nederlandse politieorganisatie zijn voordeel mee kan doen.

Bron

Aitkenhead, Elisabeth, Jon Clements, Jessica Lumley, Rick Muir, Harvey Redgrave & Michael Skidmore (January 2022). Policing the pandemic. London: Police Foundation, 75 pp.

https://www.police-foundation.org.uk/2017/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/policing_the_pandemic_final.pdf

Samenvatting

This report presents the findings from a major research project by the Police Foundation and Crest Advisory on UK policing and the Covid-19 pandemic. The project examined the strengths and weaknesses of the current policing model in England and Wales, with a particular focus on policing structures, use of technology, strategic planning and public consent.

The Covid-19 pandemic has presented the police with unprecedented challenges: enforcing previously unthinkable restrictions on the public; protecting its own officers and staff from a potentially deadly virus; and continuing to meet regular demands even as other public services drastically scaled back their own delivery. There were concerns that the legitimacy, health and effectiveness of policing would suffer significantly as a result of the public health role the service was required to perform. At the same time, there was a recognition that policing would have to adapt in order to give itself the opportunity to overcome these challenges and potentially learn from the experience of doing so.

This report, co-authored and jointly published by the Police Foundation and Crest Advisory, sets out how UK policing responded to these challenges, principally during the first 12 months of the pandemic from March 2020 to April 2021. Overall, the report finds that the pandemic illuminated both the strengths and weaknesses of the current policing model. On the positive side, the police responded well to the operational challenge, managing to keep core services running at a time when other public services often struggled. Despite coming

under considerable pressure, the consent-based approach, the cornerstone of British policing, held firm. Indeed, the police’s determined efforts to explain and communicate their approach, at a time when public consent was likely to be tested, appears to have bolstered public

confidence. Less positively, the pandemic has reinforced the limits of the existing 43-force structure. While national policing organisations generally performed an important role in coordinating the overall response, the need for a strong strategic centre has never been more apparent. More broadly, the pandemic has accelerated shifts in demand (as well as ways of working) that will require different policing skills and capabilities. There is, as yet, little evidence that the 20,000 officer uplift is geared up to respond to that challenge.

The report identifies five key lessons which can be taken from how the Covid-19 pandemic has been policed:

Crime prevention

Changes in the physical, social and economic environment can have a major impact on crime levels. Restricting people’s freedom to move and gather reduced the opportunity to commit certain offences. Of course, no one wants Covid-style restrictions on liberty to control crime on an on-going basis. However, to a degree, the pandemic represented a real-world test of the theory that crime is the product of motivated offenders coming into contact with opportunities in their local environment. There is still too little public policy focus on what we can do to design out crime.

Managing demand and workforce reform

The pandemic accelerated pre-existing changes in the pattern of police demand, with a rise in the proportion of crimes taking place in private spaces or online, often involving complex social needs. At the same time, it also led to major shifts in ways of working, in line with other parts of the economy, with many back office staff moving to remote working. The current focus on increasing capacity via the uplift programme, while welcome, does not address these capability and workforce reform challenges.

Clarity around the rules

If the police are to perform their role effectively in a national crisis, there must be a stable framework of rules for them to enforce and this should be clearly communicated by the government. While we found that the police service benefited from improved coordination during the pandemic, the grey area between the law and government guidance caused difficulties. It is inevitable that law and guidance will have to change during a pandemic. Nevertheless, the frequency of changes made it difficult for the police to enforce the law.

Communication and engagement

Despite concerns at the start of the pandemic around the impact enforcing public health rules would have on police legitimacy, the ‘4 Es’ approach was successful in avoiding any major breakdown in the relationship between the public and the police. This likely reflects the

determination of chief officers to remain true to the principles of policing by consent and use enforcement only as the last resort. The emphasis on explaining how public health powers would be applied, rather than using the threat posed by Covid-19 as a justification appears to have been well received by the public. During the pandemic the service was generally able to draw upon public support that had been built up during the previous years. It is therefore important that before the next crisis the police service does what it can to reinvest in the community relationships that are the bedrock of our policing model and without which the ‘4 Es’ approach simply would not have worked.

The importance of a strong strategic centre

The pandemic demonstrated clear benefits of having greater central coordination in some areas. The creation of a national data centre in the National Police Coordination Centre helped to identify areas under pressure operationally and to present credible information to the public about how powers were being used. We also saw the acceleration of investment in new technologies to enable remote working and to reduce the need for face-to-face contact with members of the public. Some of these innovations such as remote resolution of calls and virtual interviews and hearings, hold great promise for the future. However, while there is plenty of local innovation, police IT strategy remains fragmented and adoption of new technologies uneven.

Afsluitend

Vrijwel elk land ter wereld heeft enkele beperkingen op het gebied van de volksgezondheid opgelegd als reactie op de COVID-19-pandemie. We zien echter een aanzienlijke variatie in zowel de wetten als de sancties en hoe strikt deze werden gehandhaafd. Alle niet-essentiële bewegingen in Frankrijk waren bijvoorbeeld verboden in de periode van de nationale lockdown en iedereen die het huis verliet moest een Covid-19-reiscertificaat bij zich hebben. Spanje heeft onder zijn nationale noodtoestand een landelijke avondklok ingesteld. Sommige van deze variaties weerspiegelden ook de verschillen in de aanpak van de politie. Deze vertoont natuurlijk een samenhang met verschillende beleidskeuzes over hoe de verspreiding van het coronavirus het beste kan worden teruggedrongen. Toch vallen er lessen te trekken uit bijgesloten ´kennisparel´. Ik zou opnieuw willen opmerken: doe er vooral je voordeel mee, kennis om te consumeren en hopelijk om van te leren. Fijn weekeinde alvast.

Tot zover maar weer, blijf gezond, optimistisch en wees vooral aardig voor elkaar. Alleen zo gaan we echt solidair met elkaar om. Tot de volgende ´kennisparel´ die over een paar dagen in jullie mailbox valt.

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