In 1829, Sir Robert Peel – the founder of policing as we know it today – published his nine Principles of Law Enforcement. The first principle began: “The basic mission for which police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.” The prevention of crime remains a key objective for all police agencies across the world.
Almost two centuries later, the Peelian principles still underpin ‘policing by consent’ in societies across the world. But it’s clear that the principle themselves were written in a very different world. And it’s interesting to compare their emphasis on preventing crime with the way today’s policing model has evolved.
Why? Because historically the approach to policing has been primarily reactive. True, the police do some great work and yes they want to head off potential crimes before they happen. But the core focus of police work is the step-by-step process of bringing criminals to justice: detecting crime, responding, collecting evidence, arresting, charging, presenting the evidence to court, and getting a conviction.
And the good news is that the modern tools available to – and increasingly used by – today’s police forces provide an opportunity to be more proactive and provide a greater opportunity to prevent crime before it occurs.
What tools? Advances like mobile connectivity, body-worn video, the connected car, and the rise of citizens’ portals mean police forces now have access to more information than ever before. Integrated with smart back-end systems and proactive management support, these capabilities can now provide the officer in the field with unprecedented local insight and intelligence on the spot – enabling them to do their job more effectively and safely than ever before, and to deal with problems before they escalate into crimes.
Take a classic situation in modern policing: attending a house call door due to a report of domestic disturbance. Today, most police will undertake some sort of check via their radio to see whether anything is recorded on police systems about the house. The limited investigation of systems by the CAD operator means that in most cases you have a very limited understanding of what to expect beyond the front door.
Now imagine that scenario if the police officer also had access to more detailed, relevant information about the location such as potential occupants, previous incidents or engagements, relevant history of police activity in the area. By arming the officer with more information, she or he is far better prepared to with the situation and identify other potential crimes before they occur. The key is ensuring that actionable, relevant and targeted information is retrieved from back end systems and ‘pushed’ to the officer before they attend the scene.
With this connected, improved and intelligent information, the front-line police officer can now become more proactive, more intuitive and more of a problem solver in the field. And the benefits also flow back to the station’s control room and senior officers, who have clearer visibility – often in real time – of where their officers are, what they’re doing, and what risks they’re facing.
All of these benefits are on offer through smarter use of police tools and technology. We at Accenture are currently working to realise them through our “connected officer” project, integrating all the devices, data, and back-office and management systems around the officer to improve their situational awareness to a new level. The result: more crimes prevented with fewer officers hurt, and greater transparency of actions.
It’s no coincidence that Sir Robert Peel’s principles began and ended with proactive use of local knowledge to prevent crime in our communities. What modern technology enables us to do is emulate that knowledge in today’s larger, more complex societies – and reinvent community policing for the 21st Century. That’s why if Sir Robert were alive today, I think he would approve of our “connected officer”.
See this post on LinkedIn: Prevent crime by being connected