Justice Committee calls for evidence on community policing in Scotland

18.03.2008

An inquiry focussing on the effectiveness of community policing in Scotland was launched today by the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee .

Committee Convener Bill Aitken MSP said:

“At the conclusion of the Justice Committee’s wide-ranging inquiry into the effective use of police resources last year we expressed concern that there was no common definition or approach to community policing in Scotland . It is of such fundamental importance to the people of Scotland that we made a commitment to carry out a second phase inquiry to examine in more detail how effectively community policing is currently being delivered.

“During the inquiry we will try to establish a clear definition of community policing and consider the structure and priority given to it by Scottish police forces.

“The Committee will also consider whether there are examples of community policing from other countries, including aspects of the Neighbourhood Policing Programme being rolled out across England and Wales which could be considered in a Scottish context.”

Key questions to be considered by the Committee include:

  • What do the police and other stakeholders (including the Scottish Government, local authorities and the general public) understand by the term ‘community policing’?
  • What level of priority do the police and other stakeholders give community policing as compared with other elements of police work?
  • Does more emphasis need to be placed on community policing (with more resources being directed to that area)?
  • How do services other than police forces contribute to community policing?
  • What examples are there of good practice in relation to community policing (both within Scotland and elsewhere)?
  • What examples are there of good practice in relation to community warden schemes and other local initiatives which assist in the policing of communities?
  • Do community policing initiatives face any common problems (e.g. it has been suggested that officers are likely to be extracted from community policing duties where staffing needs arise in other areas)?
  • What impact have community policing initiatives had on: a) community-police relations; b) the prevention and detection of both crime and antisocial behaviour and c) perceptions of crime and antisocial behaviour within communities.(eg. the ‘fear of crime’) ?
  • What challenges face communities in articulating their policing needs and what are the views of communities about participating in policing?
  • What different mechanisms are used to engage local communities in policing and what is the perceived effectiveness of these mechanisms from both a police and community perspective?