If the effectiveness of a Police Force is partly down to the quality of its relationship with the public it serves and protects, then today’s news that Police in the UK may be subject to open public hearings for accusations of serious neglect or incompetence must be seen as a good thing. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) will now have the power to compel Police Forces in the UK to open a case if there is a public interest in it. In the past, these cases have been heard behind closed doors but in today’s world a lack of transparency can quickly translate into a lack of trust. The Police in the UK and in any other country simply cannot afford that. Despite this the Times reports that Alan Gordon, vice chairman of the Police Federation said that, “Provided the hearing is held in an appropriate manner, allowing the admittance of the public will add nothing to the proceedings”. I guess we can understand that he and his members are concerned about the effect on morale and the danger of trumped-up accusations to the careers of officers, but the world has moved on from the days when people blindly trusted authority figures whoever they may be. The speedy charging of the Ipswich serial killer has very recently highlighted the fantastic role that a community’s trust in its Police force and a very well run local information-gathering and high profile communication campaign can play in an investigation (Elle Seymour has an interesting take on the different approach to similar crimes in the US and UK). If the Police need the public’s trust to operate effectively then surely the Police need to be more open about how they investigate themselves in public interest cases of a serious nature.
Technorati Tags: Police Complaints
Technorati Tags: Independent Police Complaints Commission
1 thought on “Policing the Police”
I was amazed when I read the New York Times article outlining the different tactics used by these two police forces. I have had personal experience of Suffolk Police’s open/helpful relationship with the media and community while working as a journalist on a previous murder case in their county. This approach surely paid dividends in assisting them to make a swift arrest. The situation in Atlantic City is alarming in comparison. A killer is still on the loose there, possibly a serial killer, but nobody is making a fuss, with the impact on tourism being cited as a possible reason.
The police can only benefit by being more transparent, matters of security will always remain confidential. It serves to reassure the public about the way they work and connect (my favourite word) with their communities.
Happy New Year and many thanks for the link.