Headlines: November 21st, 2008

An increasing number of communities are becoming involved in the fight against crime as police forces implement policing pledges. A key feature of the pledge is that it allows people to have a stronger voice on local crime priorities.

The policing pledges give the public a clear minimum standard of service. A response to emergencies is promised within 15 minutes and a response to agreed priorities within one hour. There is also a commitment to meet representative of communities once each month and agree priorities and action to tackle them. Communities are given access to crime maps, information on specific crimes and information about what happened to those brought to justice in their neighbourhood. There is also a guarantee that neighbourhood policing teams will spend at least 80 per cent of their time visibly working on behalf of the public in their neighbourhood.

The pledge gives details of the local policing team, including their photographs and how to contact them. It also explains the different routes by which complaints can be made against the police.

The reasoning underlying the police pledge is that one of the most effective ways of building public confidence is for neighbourhood policing teams to engage with the community. It is also recognised that the public are one of the best weapons in fighting crime. This shift in strategy to the involvement of local people is reflected in the central target placed on all forces to increase public confidence that the police and other agencies are tackling local crime and anti-social behaviour priorities. All other central targets have been scrapped.

The policing pledge will be signed by every force in England and Wales and it is expected that most forces will implement pledges by the end of 2008.

The Taxpayers Alliance has criticised policing pledges and accused forces of wasting time and public money in “stating the blindingly obvious”.