Has the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners provided accountability to local people?: a Case Study in Hampshire and IOW

Baker, Stuart (2013) Has the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners provided accountability to local people?: a Case Study in Hampshire and IOW. MSc dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    The overall aim of this dissertation is to investigate the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners, more specifically, how this has changed the governance structure. The investigation explored the concept of accountability and whether the new structure is able to reconnect the public with the police, which derived from the ‘accountability gap’ detailed by Loveday and Reid (2003). The study provides a review of the literature detailing the historical development of police accountability from the previous police authority, under the tripartite structure to the introduction of crime commissioners and this has led to the specific focus of the primary research completed. By reviewing the existing literature it showed that an accountability gap does exist and therefore illustrated the need for this study.
    The primary research consisted of 11 semi structured interviews with individuals who were identified as key stakeholders under the new structure. At the conclusion of the interviews each participant was asked to complete a survey with 12 supplementary ‘Likert’ statements in order to gage their feelings. This was to support the qualitative interview process and gain a clearer understanding of their views. It was decided that the Crime Commissioner would not be asked to complete the ‘Likert’ statements as it was those engaged in the process around him whose feelings were sought. The interviews focused on the engagement which took place between the stakeholders and the public and the Crime Commissioner. They explored themes which included, funding, the police and crime plan, the police and crime panel and the influence of politics / independence. All 11 transcripts were produced and a thematic analysis was conducted to co-ordinate the findings. This was achieved by reading each transcript and then numbering themes from each interview to group them together, thus making analysis simpler.
    The research shows that the new structure is very much in the early stages and many participants felt it was too early to determine any conclusions as they themselves were in the process of ‘finding their feet’. The overall perception of stakeholders was that the change is necessary and the majority were supportive as they felt the new structure has the ability to reconnect the public with the police. However, at this time they were uncertain whether this has been achieved. Certainly, the stakeholders were heavily engaged in policing prior to the structural change and hence, were very supportive of the police in general. Therefore, participants did not believe that the introduction of the PCC had increased their satisfaction in policing as they were already fairly satisfied anyway. In terms of the ‘accountability gap’ identified by Loveday and Reid (2003), it is fair to say that it still exists. The general population are disengaged in the PCC process and stakeholders do not accurately represent them. Only certain areas of the population are represented and even stakeholders are unsure what their role is under the new structure. This research highlights a number of concerns with current practice and provides recommendations on how the ‘gap’ can be closed. Only then can it be argued that the police have become more accountable to the public.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Institute of Criminal Justice Studies
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2014 15:05
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 12:34
    URI: http://eprints.port.ac.uk/id/eprint/14493

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