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The Police and the Public Uniting to Combat Increasing Crime


By Sergeant Peter Mc Combie
Community Relations Branch


Society has no doubt separated itself into parts and distinct groups. This separation has led to the formation of institutions that are responsible for the various structures needed in maintaining the society. In general, society should not be perceived as distinct institutions but as one great organizational component consisting of every member of society, with each individual concerned and responsible for the upkeep and welfare of each other. Nevertheless, society has adopted different institutions to organize, promote and protect itself with one of the most important, being the police.

Counteracting the effectiveness of the police is crime, an ill that continues to harm and destroy society. There are several causes of crime, particularly in societies of developing countries and it has increased drastically in this modern age. This has created considerable concern to members of society and ways and means must be found if it is to be combated. Hence, as a constant aim to counter increasing crime, the police and the public must have and maintain good relations between them.

The police have a vast and multi-faceted role in society and do not necessarily act as crime-fighters, but also provide a range of services to the public. However, its principle role is one of responsibility towards law and order. This has resulted in the police having great powers in enforcing laws but at the same time safeguarding the rights of the public. Thus, the police have definitely become an identifiable symbol of law, which is clearly seen in its functions and objectives in the protection of life and property, the prevention and detection of crime, the detection, pursuit and arrest of offenders and the preservation of the peace.

By its great power and constant contact with the public, the manner in which the police operate can tremendously affect its image. This is most evident in the complex way it carries out its functions and objectives, which leads to a target of suspicion and scorn from the public. Animosity and resentment then set in and create a collapse in public relations. It is imperative that the police take the first step to initiate, develop and put into practice, tenets that will foster good relations with the public. In this light, the police with an attitude of loyalty, pride and respect can command a substantial part in educating the public in national, cultural and social interests.

Nationally, the police can be of service by providing a patriotic role in representing and giving the public a sense of pride by means of parades, reviews and participation in national ceremonies. Such involvements will go a long way in creating and preserving customs and values that will instill into members of society a sense of purpose and belonging in their lives, which can in turn prevent criminal tendencies.

Society no doubt has a cultural heritage adopted from its past. With this in mind, the police can create avenues that perpetuate respectful culture and can contribute by having members of the service take part in cultural festivals and activities. In so doing, the police can be openly seen as a versatile body in the belief of the society, thus, causing the public to see them not only as law enforcers but as mutual partners in public activities.

On the social aspect, relations between the police and the public cannot be said to be favourable. In fact, one of the most essential causes of breakdown in relations between the police and the public lies in social disintegration. The media and the public at large constantly accuse the police of brutality and misuse of authority. The average member of the public often dislikes the police and sees them as being unfriendly, unsympathetic and untrustworthy. There are numerous other complaints and accusations that have reached superlative proportions and serious steps must be taken to remove these social barriers, in order to integrate and maintain harmonious relations between the police and the public.

It is time that the police come to the important realization that they are indeed social workers, as they get involved in the very serious social and psychological issues of the society. The service can begin to initiate the role of social worker by getting more involved in social development programmes. This will enable the fostering of relations between police and public, aimed at getting solutions to the ever increasing problems of crime and other social ills. The police can begin by using the powerful medium of television, radio and the press, to acquaint the public about the police and their various functions. Sponsorship of annual ‘Police Week’ with stations opened to the public, sports and other activities aimed at encouraging and enhancing public participation. By conducting charitable exercises, the police can visit the elderly, sick, handicapped and others in the community that are dispossessed.

Still on the social aspect, the police can attack crime by providing particular attention to crime infested areas. Regular advice should be given to individuals and businesses on security measures in the form of neighbourhood watches, discussion and various other means. Great emphasis can be placed on devising and delivering methods on crime prevention including other strategies that will curtail increasing crime.

It must be borne in mind, that crime is not only increasing but it is becoming even more violent, particularly in a society where community spirit and effort, have been replaced by individual self-interest. The fight against crime has been extremely difficult for the police to control and the police and the public must understand that the responsibility does not rest solely on the police.

The fight is the concern of each and every member of the society who must be committed to oppose crime’s evil tendencies and this can only come about by adhering to firm principles of national, cultural and social commitment. Crime may not be eliminated but can be conveniently controlled, thus the police and the public must build a positive relationship if the fight is to be won. Ultimately, this aim may even educate the criminal to abandon his criminal inclinations.