Saturday, 15 November 2014

Policy Exchange on innovation in policing

Policy Exchange, the think tank, published an interesting paper about innovation in policing last year. I like its tone: the suggestions are pragmatic (scandals are a good source of subsequent innovation) and forward-thinking (Tardis boxes equipped with technology for the public to communicate directly with the police).

The trouble with think tank reports is they can sometimes come across as being far too obviously written by dusty academics from the comfort of their offices, relying on statistics and secondary accounts without knowing their subject matter from first experience. This report, however, contained a paragraph which is startlingly cose to the bone:

A phrase often used by senior police when considering reform and one that epitomises what is wrong with many police attempts at innovation is “we’re not trying to build a Rolls Royce, we only need a Mini.” This conveys that they do not want to invest more than is necessary to get the task done. However, what actually tends to happen is that a ‘patch’ gets applied to the problem they are trying to solve, rather than thinking whether a lasting solution could be constructed that is transferable to other similar situations. The problem with ‘patching’ and arriving at inelegant solutions is that they tend to put the burden on the people. Policing is a people based business, and if an innovation isn’t easy to use, then it will quickly be ignored, worked around or discarded. 
Quite. I could easily list a dozen examples. It's reassuring when a third-party report reflects what you see with our own eyes. I look forward to seeing more from writers Martin Innes and Max Chambers.