The purpose of this report is to assess the relationships between the Metropolitan Police and community-based organizations. In particular, it is necessary to analyze the positive and negative aspects, which may contribute to or hinder effective functioning of the police force. In addition to that, it is of the paramount importance to identify the prospects of developing, and external threats that may have detrimental effects on the productive multi-agency practice. Such research technique is usually called SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis.
It should be borne in mind, that SWOT analysis is virtually useless, if it is conducted without setting a certain aim or task. Additionally, SWOT analysis data can be creatively used, if it is accompanied by generation of the solutions to the existing problems. It is necessary to make use of every positive quality that the organization or agency has (Goodstein, pp 40-46). Secondly the management has to mitigate external threats (if it is within their power)
Background Information: Multi-agency working has always been viewed as the most complicated form of collaboration, because it requires effective coordination from both agencies, additionally, very often its lack is the most important factor, preventing organizations from achieving the assigned task.
1) The necessity for multi-agency approach (especially as far as the Metropolitan Police is concerned) can be explained by many reasons. It is quite possible to say that the ties between law machinery and community- based organization became significantly stronger after September 11 attacks. It was pointed out that, in order to prevent such an event, the Metropolitan Police had to establish connections with other governmental agencies, especially health service, fire brigades, and local authorities (Cochrane, pp 60-64). To some extent, such tendency was motivated by political factor (the increasing threat of terrorism)
2) Social Factor. However, it should be mentioned that the tendency to multi-agency working became apparent approximately two decades ago. It was ascertained that crime prevention in the United Kingdom could not be effective, if the efforts of the police were separate from those of public organization (namely, local authorities or educational institutions) (Private, pp 82-96).
3) Additionally, it was established that that effective work of the police force (especially regarding crime prevention) would efficient if child care services operated together with police. In order to stop domestic violence (and subsequent juvenile delinquency), the police had to get information from such agencies. Thus, it is quite possible to arrive at the conclusion that multi-agency cooperation was determined by social and political factors.
4) The Metropolitan Police and other support organizations have to reduce the consequences of victimization, in this respect; it is quite possible to mention such not profit agencies as NSPCC or Victim Support. The close collaboration of such agencies can make a considerable contribution to crime prevention campaign.
Approaches to multi-agency cooperation
The collaboration among various community-based services can be organized according to various models. Overall, it is possible to single out four models of multi-agency working. It should be born in mind that they are not always employed separately, in the overwhelming majority of cases public organizations tend to combine them.
- Unified Model. Such form of cooperation can be characterized be the so-called “amalgamated management”, which means that the decisions are made by the representatives of both organizations. Furthermore, the employees of both agencies can temporarily work together. However, such form of collaboration is very seldom used, only in case of an emergency.
- Coordinated Model. It is one of the most widespread forms of multi-agency working. Its main peculiarity is that both organizations work together for achieving the assigned task but their management and staffing structures remain separate each other. In other words, each has agency has make its own contribution to the net result.
- Coalition Model. Such model necessitates temporary alliance between several organizations. Some of the staffing structures can be merged into a single entity; however, the management remains distinct.
- As it has already been mentioned, very often agencies tend to combine these models. Such approach can be called a Hybrid Model. The form of cooperation varies according to the situation or the needs of particular project. None of these forms can be disregarded or rejected, because each has its advantages and disadvantages (Harvin. pp 33- 44).
Now that, the major models are identified, it is necessary to show how there are used by the Metropolitan Police in its multi-agency practice. The best way to do it is the so-called SWOT analysis, despite the fact that, it is usually used in the economic field; it can also be employed in social sciences. Its essence lies in identifying and evaluating positive and negative aspects of the particular project (Goodstein, 17-23 ). In this case, the subject of analysis is the efficient (or inefficient collaboration) between the Metropolitan police and other public organization. Judging from the data, obtained by this method it will possible to propose amendments to the current policy. However, in order to identify the major opportunities, it is of the utmost importance to formulate the aim, which must be achieved.
- First, the Metropolitan Police has to establish relationships with other public agencies in order to obtain information. It has often been maintained that the informational recourses of the police are not always sufficient for crime prevention. Very often, the data that the police need is kept confidential and that can eventually hinders the efficient functioning of law machinery. The main problem is that very often public perception of the police force is negative; consequently, community-based organizations are not always willing to collaborate with the representatives of the Metropolitan Police (Brogden, pp 121- 130).
- Secondly, the police force has to develop efficient form of collaboration with other agencies, because, the lack of coordination is the underlying cause of many failures that the Metropolitan Police. The models of collaboration are often misused used, moreover, official are not always aware of their existence.
- The final task is to establish productive relationships with educational institutions (especially public schools). First, the police will be able to better prevent juvenile delinquency, which is one of the most acute problems in the contemporary British society. Moreover, educators can also play a very significant role in crime prevention, because they maintain constant contact with their students. Now that the overall task is identified, it would be better to make a SWOT analysis of the situation, which has recently emerged.
Strengths: intrinsic qualities of the organization (or organizations) that help to fulfill the assigned task.
- Relatively active interest of educational institutions (in particular, public schools) to cooperate with police force. Certainly, the role of educators cannot be underestimated; their efforts are aimed not only at increasing the level of academic performance, apart from that the educators can successfully struggle against juvenile delinquency. Many after and in-school programs, launched in public schools prevent students from joining street gangs.
- Increasing interest of community members to the work of police, the launching of volunteer programs. According to Adam Crawford, “community policing” have considerably changed over the last ten years, the majority of the population realized that, efforts of the police will be fruitless, if they are not supported by the members of the community. Such volunteer programs are of great avail especially in preventing minor crimes. According to the statistical data, neighborhood watch has contributed to crime prevention (Crawford, pp 255-260).
- Propensity of Scotland Yard to resort to the help of mass media (especially, in shaping public opinion).
- Willingness of the Metropolitan Police to cooperate with other support organizations as for example NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention Cruelty to Children) or Victim Support.
- Close cooperation of the Metropolitan police with rehabilitation centers. Such multi-agency practice usually serves double purpose. First, the police officers can obtain information about high-risk individuals; secondly, people who have committed a crime are able to restore their position in the community (Sherman. 48-55).
Weaknesses. In SWOT Analysis the word weakness can be understood as the internal quality of the company, what prevents it from achieving the aim. Among them, it is possible to single out the following ones.
- Despite the efforts made by the Metropolitan Police, its public image still leaves much to be desired. According to the recent sociological researches, conducted in this field, an average British citizen does not perceive as something positive. Therefore, members of the community are not always willing to cooperate with police officers (Sherman, pp 100-111).
- The attitude of the police towards multi-agency cooperation. Adam Crawford in his book “The Local Governance of Crime: Appeals to Community and Partnerships” points out that approximately 21 percent of the police officers do not believe that multi-agency co-operation is important. In their opinion, such approach will be fruitless. They believe that the role of the police is only to detect criminals.
- Inability of the police officials to choose the appropriate mode of collaboration. As it has been mentioned earlier, there are four types, and each one can be appropriate (or inappropriate under certain circumstances). The efforts of the Metropolitan Police are not coordinated with those ones of victim support organizations.
- Existing legislation has not yet developed information sharing rules. Naturally there are the so-called “Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (also known as MAPPA). According to them, there are five principles; however, some of them are not quite clear, for instance the principle of “accountability” In addition to that, MAPPA arrangements state that the information should be disclosed or revealed under “appropriate” circumstance. However, the term appropriate is very obscure, and it can be interpreted in many ways.
- Attitude of the police officials towards the role of educators. Many recent researches show that the members of metropolitan police very seldom resort to the help of educators, especially dealing with juvenile delinquency.
- Inability of the police officials to find the appropriate model of cooperation with public schools. In the overwhelming majority of cases, police officials do not pay extra attention towards the measures taken by educators; therefore their efforts often lack coordination.
- Lack of coordination between police officials and volunteers. Certainly, neighborhood hood watch can be of great assistance to the police force, but volunteers usually lack experience and training that police officers have, and sometimes their efforts transform into “witch hunt” that has no direction or purpose (Evans, pp 77-80).
Opportunities: in SWOT analysis, the “opportunity” can be defined as an external factor, which may contribute to fulfillment of the task.
- Relatively active interest of the government in promoting multi-agency collaboration. A set of arrangements, developed to regulate the work of police with other agencies, have considerably increased the effectiveness of multi-agency practice.
- Willingness of mass media to improve the public image of the law machinery (and Metropolitan Police in particular). As it has already been mentioned, an average British citizen is reluctant to cooperate with the police force. However, recent campaigns (for example, Burglary Prevention Campaign 2008), carried out both by the Metropolitan Police and mass media, indicate that these organizations can successfully cooperate.
Threats: the external factors that can prevent the agency (or agencies) from achieving the assigned task:
- Different priorities in different agencies. The main problem is that community-based organization and the Metropolitan Police usually have different policies and priorities. For example, very often police officers may face difficulties obtaining some information from other agencies, just because the rules, established in the organization do not allow to reveal or disclose it.
- Insufficient funding of the supply- side programs. In the overwhelming majority of cases, an employer is not willing to hire a person who has already committed a crime. Very often such programs offer low-paid jobs, with poor working conditions, which can eventually result only in another crime.
- Inadequate financing of victim support agencies. The main point is that in the overwhelming majority of cases, they are non-profit organizations; therefore they are very dependant on the government’s aid.
- Different perception of the common goal by various agencies, inability to coordinate actions for achieving the assigned task.
- Attitude of the public towards, people who are trying to rehabilitate themselves. In the vast majority of cases, people are prejudiced against them; such people are not very likely to find a job and that only pushes them to another crime (Collins, pp 77-82).
Thus, having identified external and internal factors that may contribute or hinder efficient multi-agency practice, it would be prudent to outline the prospects of development. In other words, it is necessary to develop further strategy. 1) First, the attitude of the police officials towards multi-agency practice should change. As it has already been mentioned, twenty-percent of police officers does not view multi-agency practice as useful or beneficial.
- Secondly, it is necessary develop information sharing principles or rules. Probably some amendments to MAPPA should be proposed, because very often police officers are not able to obtain the information that they need, mostly because information sharing principles have yet been developed.
- Furthermore, the Metropolitan Police should establish training programs for volunteers. The main problem is that many people, wishing to assist the police force are not able to do it, just because they lack experience or training, which makes their efforts less effective.
- The Metropolitan Police should work more closely with victim support organizations. At the moment they attempts are not unanimous, though such organizations as Victim Support or NSPCC can assist police in crime prevention (in particular, domestic violence or child abuse) (Harvin, pp 124-140)
As far as “Opportunities» or external facilitating factors are concerned, it is possible to single out the following strategies. First, the police officials should pay even more attention to mass media, which can promote the image of the police. In addition to that mass media should attract public’s attention to the necessity of multi-agency practice (especially regarding community policing or neighborhood watch).
As regards the external factors that hinder effective multi-agency practice (especially insufficient funding), it is worth mentioning that police officials have practically no authority to change the situation, because this is the domain of the government. The only possible solution is to attract the attention of the government to this problem.
Another negative factor that the Metropolitan Police cannot change is the attitude of the public towards people, who have already committed a crime. The major problem is that employers are reluctant to hire people with criminal record. Thus, rehabilitation centers are not able to assist former criminals. Perhaps, some amendments should be proposed to the existing legislation, though, it is also domain of the government.
Therefore, it is quite possible to arrive at the conclusion that the efforts of the Metropolitan Police to prevent crimes or detect criminals cannot be separate from those of the community. In addition to that, there are some external threats that cannot be mitigated only by the police officials, (for instance the problem of insufficient funding).
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