“Do-It-Yourself policing” – can it work?
As a result of the revealed budget cuts to policing, David Cameron’s ‘big society’ proposal calls for greater public involvement in the safeguarding of communities. Much of this involves more volunteers acting as police officers and helping out on the beat. But will the volunteers actually be willing to get involved, and if they do will they be useful?
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We will need more police as budgets are cut
The Government have to cut their spending. Some of this inevitably will be taken on by core public services. The police is one such public service. What better way to supplement our reduced public service than to get the public on board and volunteering? This will be a way of making up for the inevitable radical drop in the numbers of trained police in the necessary budget costs. This is an effective measure.
The idea that we can ‘supplement’ our police force with untrained individuals is ridiculous. No level of training that we will offer to these volunteers will be adequate in comparison to what we give our trained police force. 20 police men will be far more effective at fighting crime that 15 policemen (seen as it is said their will be a 25% cut in the budget) and 10 volunteers who have little or no training! Surely we need to not only keep the police force numbers up, but also the quality of that police force.
It will offer youths, students and the unemployed to gain experience and training.
With the recession over we need to find ways to get people back into employment. Volunteering is one of the best ways to easily gain experience and valuable brownie points to aid people’s curriculum vitas and therefore their employability. By offering more chances for the public to get involved in such high profile and conscientious volunteering, the Government are not only saving money but they are greatly helping the prospects of all hard working society members.
The opportunity for volunteering has always been there for those who wish to capitalise on it! We have an abundance of charity and governmental organisations that offer volunteering experience. Citizens’ Advice Bureau, Red Cross and even local charity shops. There are a variety of different ways you can volunteer and gain experience for future work prospects. The Army has always offered this to members of society. The people who have not utilised these opportunities are unlikely to utilise of volunteering with the police force and therefore this scheme will only take away from willing volunteers elsewhere and not add to the limited existing pool.
It will curtail the benefit culture
It is said that we have a benefit culture whereby people see their living standards higher if they remain on benefits than if they get a menial and low paid job. It is the lack of hope which causes people to give up on themselves and is causing many teens to have children; simply because they see no other way forward to move in life. Low aspirations such as these will be combated by allowing youths the opportunity to volunteer with police work. They will begin to see those brought up in a similar fashion to them succeeding as part of the police force and they will begin to see hope for themselves. Even if they do not want to become members of the police force, the youths will be given hope in finding good employment through their work volunteering alongside the police and this can only be good for future society. It will mean less benefits and more income tax revenue.
Part of the benefit culture is the belief that they will not get accepted even if they did apply for a job, therefore they do not bother. These people who have probably been implicated in crime themselves, or know people around them who have been implicated in crime; they will see it as inevitable that they will not get accepted onto any police oriented volunteer scheme, therefore they will not apply!
I would also like to add how ironic it is to justify getting people to do ordinarily paid work on a no-pay basis and say that it will end the benefit culture! The very nature of volunteer work is that it is supplementary and unpaid.
It will curtail crime two fold.
The idea of getting the public involved in policing Britain is an excellent one. It will lower the rates of crime by ensuring that we still have adequate police numbers despite budget cuts; but it has an additional benefit. As more people in society start volunteering for the police, more people will know of people who volunteer in the police. In feeling a connection with the police, people will feel more inclined to cohere with and respect the police. This will lead to less violent assault against officers. It will also reduce crime as people will not want to implicate people they know in the volunteering sector of the police force in any crimes they commit. Therefore, they will be more likely to not commit crime. Whilst this will not stop all criminals, it will stop those who commit crime without thinking of the consequences of their actions.
It may reduce surface crime; the numbers of crimes that we see reported, but it will not reduce actual crime. If we allow members of the public to become members of the police force on a not-for-profit basis, we will increase the chances of people letting people off crime due to them knowing the person. If people are volunteering, they will not wish to pay for travel far out of their area. Therefore, they will work in their area. Therefore they will inevitably come across friends of friends and other people they may know. With no money going into their bank account from their volunteering duties, what is to stop them from letting the people they know off? Looking after their own? Nothing. For this reason, it is a very bad idea!
It will re-establish the police in society
For far too long the police have been seen as an ulterior dimension to society’s normal graphics. Something changed them from being normal members of society to people who protect and serve society. This had led to a vast amount of bureaucracy, corruption and ultimately to a lack of trust in the police force. If we start bring the police back into society, by allowing more of society into the police then we will solve the issues that surround this lack of trust. More trust in the police will lead to more people reporting crime, and will ultimately lead to less crime being committed as more people are being caught
With the high staff turnover rate there is in volunteering, for the reasons explained below, how can the police force be said to be able to integrate into society via having links with the community.
In order to re-establish to police in society (lexically this is all too obvious) we need to put the police into society – not put society into the police! We need more front line officers not less.
The money we will need to spend on training the volunteers still counts
If the Government really want to have the number of officers back up to the level of the 1950’s then they will have to apply some serious money into recruitment and training. In the 1950’s the levels of volunteer staff were 67,000. This is over four times over what we currently have; 15,000. To recruit that many people, then to put them through an application process, then to pay for their initial training and supplementary training there afterwards; the Government will have pay millions. Bearing in mind that we are only cutting 25% of the police force, how can all of these costs to only get sub-quality, part-time police officers be seen as a money saving move. The Government have clearly not looked into the long term effects of their plan.
This problem is easily curtailed. All we have to do is ensure a basic level of academic training regarding health and safety and personal safety. Thereafter, it will be on the job training. It is for this reason that there will be a minimum amount of hours that a person would have to commit in a month to ensure that they would need all that much re-training after initiation.
High staff turnover will be a problem
Not only will we have the problem of money with the above aspects, but we will also have the trouble of people dropping out. People on do voluntary work to ain experience whilst their circumstances renders in necessary. Students for example would take up the opportunity in order to gain valuable experience. Part-time workers will need to experience. However, once the student has a graduate’s job, their volunteering will go out the window. Once that part time worker has a full time job, that volunteering will go out of the window. What else goes out of the window? All the money the Government placed in funding the recruitment of that individual and all the money for funding the training of that individual. Do we really want our money wasted in such a way? The high level of staff turnover will also not be conducive to the effectiveness of the police force in terms of their coverage of society and their protection.
Regardless of whether or not people can make careers out of such experience, there will still be a high turnover amongst the volunteers, which is the essence of this point.
There will be no more problems with high turnover than the ordinary police force than as it stands today. People will be able to make careers out of this kind of service, much as people are able to in any other profession. Security companies already exist, and they do not have a problem with keeping staff on board for many years[[http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/jul/28/private-security-companies-police-housing-estates]].
Increasing the chances of corruption in the police
The police have a valuable position into society, and this position is a position of trust. If we allow all sorts of members of society, in order to maintain the numbers of the 1950’s then we have to acknowledge who we will be admitting into such a position of trust. These people will be members of society, members who know other members, members who are not tied to oblige to the rules for financial reasons. In not being paid, there is a real risk that bribery could become rife amongst the police force. People accepting more side earners. This is what happens when you do not pay those in powerful positions enough money, they get their money from elsewhere using the role at hand.
Bearing in mind he impending budget cuts, this is likely to occur anyway. The other alternative is to take pay cuts from the police force. This will ensure their numbers; however, they will then be more likely to accept bribes. What we can do is bring in the volunteered and keep a watchful eye on them. It will be far easier to sack someone who is there on a voluntary basis, than on the payroll.
There will be far less regulation than in the real police force
The police operate the Police Complaints Comission which deals with complaints of poor service and abuse from the public. It may not be perfect, but for the most part it prevents the police from being able to abuse their power. Without any such similar body in the private sector, it will leave ordinary people open to abuse.
What do you think?