Working in Partnership – Police 2

Probation and police differed also in their relationship with the ‘political’ environment. By and large, probation succeeded by being out of the limelight in the media and a low priority for political attention. We could be funded under the radar of the predominant punitive culture of political debate about criminal justice. Police however were much more on the front line, politically. They could be active manipulators of the popular interest in and fear of crime. They needed to have a ‘front page’ political profile in order to get public assistance with crime detection and prevention. The quality of ‘intelligence’ available to the police was affected by their public reputation. Probation often had very mixed feelings about this – envy to some degree and there were frequent complaints in the service that our leaders did not give us a stronger public profile. We would often be cynical about the police – crudely, we thought that if crime was reduced they claimed the credit and if it rose, they blamed under funding. (As I edit this section in 2017, we seem to be going through the same process. New crime figures show a rise in crime and immediately there is a barrage of publicity about reduced funding for the police, and minimal discussion of factors such as employment insecurity, rising inequality, increased levels of child poverty etc.)

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