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A study of visible security patrols in residential areas

‘A study of visible security patrols in residential areas’, by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, is a study resulting from a national survey of private security firms and regional surveys of local housing authorities and police forces. The research was carried out over an 18-month period in Yorkshire and Humberside.

Title: A study of visible security patrols in residential areas
Author:
Joseph Rowntree Foundation
Number of pages: 4
Date of publication: April 2004

Findings

  • Over half the housing agencies surveyed (57%) said that they had become a lot more concerned with crime and disorder issues in recent years. Three-quarters agreed that the police need to co-ordinate better and accredit the work of other providers of security and patrols.

  • Two-thirds of police divisional commanders and finance directors in the region said that generating income through the provision of additional policing was important.

  • In a national survey, manned private security companies identified ‘residential areas’ as the area of greatest potential growth across the sector over the next 5 years.

  • The division of labour within this mixed economy of policing is neither well-organised nor effectively co-ordinated. Developments have largely been unplanned and driven by local markets. Relations between different providers vary considerably, ranging from effective co-production and co-ordination to indifference, competition and hostility.

  • The boundaries between the diverse providers, their respective responsibilities, roles and limitations are often unclear. This can leave the public uncertain about what can legitimately be expected of them.

  • The initiatives studied all highlighted the importance of engaging with local residents, exploiting their knowledge about local crime and disorder problems and providing them with a stake in their own community policing efforts.

  • The researchers conclude that, given the uneven co-ordination, weak accountability and segmented regulation of policing, oversight arrangements are needed that incorporate all security providers at both local and regional levels, to ensure fair competition, appropriate standards and safeguard the public interest as well as more effective joint working.

Policing Responsibilities

The provision of local policing no longer resides solely with the police but has become increasingly subdivisioned and multi-tiered. Those involved in policing activities now include:

  • sworn police officers

  • special constables

  • community support officers

  • neighbourhood wardens

  • private security guards

  • active citizens.

Security Firms

Security firms’ views on relations with local police revealed that:

  • Over half (55%) said that they were well received by local police; 16% said their reception was mixed; and 11% not well received.

  • 64% described the level of co-operation with the local police as good; 19% said it was not very good; and 17% poor.

  • 67% said that co-operation was variable; 19% said it was quite consistent; and 12% very consistent.

  • 64% agreed that national licensing would improve relations with the police; 13% disagreed.

Conclusions and practice implications

Given the uneven co-ordination, weak accountability and segmented regulation of policing, oversight arrangements are needed that incorporate the full range of providers at both local and regional
levels. This ensures fair competition, appropriate standards, and safeguards the public interest. Greater mutual understanding and trust are also required if the local delivery of policing is to become
more joined-up.

The study suggests the following measures:

  • Greater engagement between local crime and disorder reduction partnerships and the private sector, to improve both provision and oversight of the extended policing family.

  • The establishment of regional policing boards with responsibility for regulating and co-ordinating service delivery across the extended policing family.

  • The establishment of information sharing protocols between members of the extended policing family.

  • Joint tasking to ensure a clearer division of local policing endeavours and reduce duplication.

  • Structured briefing and tasking to ensure intelligence-led patrolling and the effective targeting of insecurity ‘hot spots’.

Download: A study of visible security patrols in residential areas
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Last update: 30 April 2004

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