Police undertake new box-ticking survey(January 14, 2009)
TOWN and parish councils in Wiltshire are currently being consulted about the effectiveness and visibility of the neighbourhood policing teams (NPT) in their areas.
They are being asked seven simple questions and requested to give a yes or no answer.
Questions include has the NPT publicised itself, attended community events and produced feedback on NPT priorities.
The NPTs were introduced in Wiltshire in 2007 and as this is the first proper public assessment being undertaken and will give the police even more figures as evidence to prove that they are doing a good job.
“This consultation is being driven by government so I don’t blame the police but the politicians for introducing yet another load of forms and nonsense for the police to deal with,” said Steve Dancey.
“Many police forces, and I wouldn’t include Wiltshire in this as they are still one of the more traditional constabularies, seem more intent on winning the PR battle than the war on crime.
“They employ large numbers of PR people, with no policing background, in an attempt to manipulate the news agenda and actively hush up news of crimes only giving it out on an 'if asked basis'.”
In 2007-08 the Dorset force, for example, spent more than £500,000 on 12 full time public relations staff, one part time and two student placements – which is enough to pay for 25 extra police constables.
Five years earlier the budget was running at half this level and the money now spent nationally on police PR would be enough to put 1,400 extra police officers on the street.
“What people want from the police is more of them on patrol and evidence that they are catching criminals and finding sufficient evidence to convict them,” added Steve.
“Sadly use of PR and box-ticking surveys will ultimately undermine public trust.
“The best PR for the police is to have them out on the streets interacting and dealing with public as, in my experience, most officers are pretty dedicated to doing what can be a thankless and dispiriting job.”