Police Accountability

Community Diversity and Police Engagement, Consultation and Accountability

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. 

Public Involvement in Policing

The challenge for central government, Police and Crime Commissioners and individual police services, is to find effective ways of enabling engagement, accountability and scrutiny of the police and its police authority (P&CC). Engaging and consulting with the public; advising them of their work; seeking to understand crime and disorder issues concerning the public; informing them of their achievements and consulting with them on current and future work and being accountable for that work.

Structures vary across the country but in princple should contain :

  • Police and Crime Commissioners
  • Police and Crime Panel/Committee
  • LCRB (private officer meeting in London) quarterly – London strategic partnership /oversight
  • PCCs Audit Panels
  • Local Authority Crime and Disorder Scrutiny Panels
  • Community Safety Partnerships
  • Safer Neighbourhood Boards and Ward Panels (accountable or consultation groups) or their non-London equivalents
  • HMIC and National Policing College

The current and developing structures are explained in the proceeding pages of this site. Their origins are in both the foundation of the British Police (as mentioned above) and in the Scarman Report  (see http://safer-london.info/20.html) which identified that in diverse communities a key factor contributing to a breakdown in public confidence in the police and their motives is a lack of effective community engagement and accountability.

The need for a systematic two way conversation between the community and its police service is recognised in Section 96 of the Police Act 1996; which requires:

Arrangements shall be made [by the local policing body - ie in London the MOPAC for each police area for obtaining (a) the views of people in that area about matters concerning the policing of the area, and (b) their co-operation with the police in preventing crime and anti social behaviour in that area, and for obtaining the views of victims of crime in that area about matters concerning the policing of the area”

Links:The Future of Policing Accountability and Engagement a power point presentation given by Martin Davis in 2015