Community Engagement & Consultation

Importance of Engagement & Consultation

In 1829, at the very beginning of professional policing in the UK, the first commissioner of the Metropolitan Police (Sir Richard Mayne) summarised and published a series of policing principles. Running through these principles, which still form the basis of UK policing, is a golden thread of policing by consent of the public. The challenge for any police service is to find effective ways of engaging with the public to advising them of their work, to seek to understand crime and disorder issues concerning the public, to inform them of their achievements and consult with them on current and future developments.

Accepting that it is an essential principle of policing, it is no easy thing to establish and maintain systematically applied structures for local engagement in crime and disorder reduction. The development of community safety work requires effective community consultation and engagement. That is not simply a box to be ticked or a formula to be followed.

In the planning and overseeing of policing or the development of crime prevention and community safety work there is a fundamental need to ensure that the communities needs and priorities are identified and included. The foundation of such a citizen focused approach to policing and community safety work (as opposed to a  'pure crime management approach' for instance) is effective engagement with communities.

Community Consultation and Crime Reduction

The UK's former Home Office Crime Reduction website offered the following of community engagement for policing definition:

"The process of enabling the participation of citizens and communities in policing at their chosen level, ranging from providing information and reassurance, to empowering them to identify and implement solutions to local problems and influence strategic priorities and decisions.

The police, citizens, and communities must have the willingness, capacity and opportunity to participate. The Police Service and partner organisations must have a responsibility to engage and, unless there is a justifiable reason, the presumption is that they must respond to community input."

Community engagement in policing can operate at three principal levels to ensure that local people are informed, consulted and involved:

1.  The Regional Police Authority or Police and Crime Commissioner level - setting the overarching engagement policy for policing and its regional and national and priorities and functioning.

2.   The 'Basic Command Unit (BCU) level', scrutinizing the delivery of  policing and community safety services, advising on improved practice and being consulted on the development of local community safety plans and agreements.

3.  The 'neighbourhood level', focusing on local priorities and problems within ward and sub municipality areas. 

Community Engagement in Community Safety 

The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 was explicit in the need for community consultation in the development and implementation of community safety strategies. However, it did not go into the 'territory of engagement'. However, the Police and Justice Act 2006 identified in the Act itself, in the supporting statutory instruments and in related guidance the key role of communities in the development and delivery of crime and disorder reduction.

Community engagement and consultation requires dialogue to bridge the gap between communities and their service providers and to give the basis for 'citizen focused' community safety. The Police and Justice Act 2006, and the essence of the police reform programme (citizen focused policing), provides an additional hard edge to the need for effective community consultation and engagement.

Engagement Links

Neighbourhood Watch

Link to the national Neighbourhood Watch website.

Community Power Pack

Published in April 2008 and developed for the UK government, the Community Power Pack '....contains all the information you need to run a participative event on Empowerment'. It is aimed at groups who wouldn't normally take part to let their views and experiences be known.

Engaging Communities in the Fight Against Crime

The full report - an analysis of what Louise Casy found in her meetings and interviews with communities and individulas concerning effective ways to engage with communities -  produced for the Cabinet Office in 2008.

Technical Report: Understanding Muslim Ethnic Communities

This technical report accompanies the research and reports on thirteen Muslim ethnic communities in England undertaken for Communities and Local Government in 2008. The reports covered communities originating from Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Turkey.

Exploring Public Confidence in the police and local councils in tackling crime and anti social behaviour

This Home Office Research Unit report provides findings from discussion groups held with local residents across England and Wales on the reasons underpinning responses to a question in the British Crime Survey (BCS) that measures public confidence in the police and local council to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour (ASB). Eighteen groups took place between 18 January and 3 February 2010.