Public perceptions of the police: effects of police investigation and police resources
2014-07-02T14:05:23Z (GMT) by
Since the 1980s, successive UK governments have sought to increase efficiency in, and effectiveness of, policing through what has been described as “cycles of reform” (Reiner, 2000, p. 204). The reforms typically involved exerting greater central control over regional police forces. Many of the early initiatives met with resistance from within the police and, as a result, were not fully implemented (McLaughlin and Murji, 1995). By the late 1990s and early 2000s, however, more effective and direct control over police performance was finally established. This took the form of a centralisation of police management, which resulted in the introduction of more uniform measures of monitoring police performance, including the regular recording of crime and crime detection rates among police forces. Performance targets were set and the public’s satisfaction with the work of the police in their local area became one of several performance indicators. Performance targets and measures to generate greater cost efficiency in service provision, however, can have unexpected, sometimes perverse side effects. Two of these are focus of this paper. First, it explores how shifts in the police’s focus on specific types of crime in response to the introduction of performance targets affected the public’s reporting of crime. Second, it asks whether, in the light of efforts to achieve efficiency savings in the police, public spending on police forces has had any bearing on the public’s perception of the quality of local policing.