Monday, August 18, 2008

Can we rethink police targets please?

The other morning I caught a piece on Today about police targets and how they were having a damaging impact on policing in England and Wales. This follows on from a Civitas report in May about police targeting trivial crimes in order to meet targets.

This caught my ear because I had been having an interesting conversation with a youth worker from Manchester earlier in the week. He was telling me that the police were being withdrawn from preventative work with young people in his patch because they weren't meeting their arrest targets with crime falling. Is this arse-backwards or what? It is a bit like the nonsensical targets for ASBOs - surely high numbers of ASBOs being issued is a sign of failure not success? This young man also told me about a really disturbing incident. Three young women were walking home and were stopped by the police and told to split up since there were three of them. One walked home on her own through a park and was raped.

What worries me about this obsession with targets and measures such as dispersal orders and exclusion zones is that they are all too often blunt and inflexible instruments that at best have little impact and at worst actually do harm. All the time the media and consequently politicians, are driven by perception rather than reality we will be showered with these window dressing, playing to the gallery, initiatives. Try putting "anti-social behaviour" into Google..........and see where else in the English speaking world it is such an obsession!

No comments: