UK: Policing In A Digital Age

Last Updated: 25 September 2013
Article by Deloitte LLP

Most Read Contributor in UK, August 2017

Policing in Britain has changed over the 184 years since Sir Robert Peel founded the modern police force. The challenges facing the Metropolitan Police then were radically different from those faced by forces nationwide today. What hasn't changed is the relevance of then Home Secretary Peel's 'Nine Principles', upon which the first official force was established. These principles are centred on relationship building, focusing on prevention over cure, encouraging public policing and demonstrating transparency.

Last year Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) were introduced in England and Wales - marking the most significant policing 'shake-up' in fifty years – with elected individuals mandated to hold police forces to account and ensure that they are answerable to the communities they serve. Innovation in technology is changing the way citizens interact with organisations, private and public  and police forces must change too if they wish to remain effective in protecting their citizens.

This four-part blog series considers the importance of these principles today. In the upcoming blogs we look at them through three 'lenses':
1. Digital
2. Mobile
3. Social

These are three of the most fundamental drivers for change in this generation. We identify where forces should be focussing their priorities and budgets in order to satisfy Peel's key themes in the policing landscape of today.

Visibility and relationship building

Eighty-four per cent of the British population today is online. Police forces must respond to this, increasing police visibility and building relationships with citizens by widening the channels through which they interact with the public, tailored to the community need. Leading businesses build relationships and tailor channels used and services offered to customers using technology. Police forces must remain in touch with society's changing norms and do the same too.

Prevention over Cure

Sir Richard Mayne (Second Joint Commissioner of the Met) said in 1829 that "the primary object of an efficient police is the prevention of crime". The Home Secretary recently agreed, proclaiming that "cutting crime means catching criminals but it also means preventing crime." The police must invest their budgets strategically in preventative action, build the capacity to monitor communication channels and harvest data from multiple sources so that their forces can intervene early.

Public policing

Peel's seventh principle contained the iconic phrase – "the police are the public and the public are the police". Whilst intelligence and certain specialist functions should be left to the professionals, there are many situations in which public participation and empowerment can support the preservation of public safety. Technology and social media are key enablers to furthering public policing.

Transparency

The police must be open and accessible. Communicating crime statistics across multiple channels reinforces police impartiality in a digital age and allows the public to make informed decisions in day-to-day life; where to eat, sleep, shop or relax. Platforms such as Facebook are the perfect portals through which citizens can hold the police to account and register complaints or praise. The police are ultimately responsible for citizens' safety and must be above reproach in everything they do.

Peelian principles are as relevant as ever today, and an effective policing strategy that incorporates digital and mobile technology along with social media is paramount for those forces seeking to meet and surpass them.
Look out for the next three blogs in this 'Peelian Policing' series, where we will delve further into how digital, social and mobile enable service improvement at reduced cost.

Read Stuart's paper - the latest in our Actionable Insights for Police and Crime Commissioners series - In the spirit of 1829: Harnessing digital, social and mobile technologies to fulfil 'Peelian principles'

Stuart West
Stuart sits within the Marketing & Insight team and is aligned to the Public Sector. He is currently working with a UK police force. Stuart also serves as Head of Young Philanthropy for Deloitte UK and has recently been appointed the Consulting Lead for 'Our Green Journey'.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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