Prevention is better than cure: Policing in Britain needs to undergo a complete cultural shift

We need to recognise that traumatic childhood experiences and poverty are among the factors driving people towards crime – and address those issues, writes Festus Akinbusoye

Saturday 04 September 2021 09:57
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<p>The basic mission of the police, according to Sir Robert Peel, the founding father of British policing, is to ‘prevent crime and disorder’, not simply to respond to crime and catch criminals</p>

The basic mission of the police, according to Sir Robert Peel, the founding father of British policing, is to ‘prevent crime and disorder’, not simply to respond to crime and catch criminals

There’s a familiar saying that “prevention is better than cure”. It’s usually applied to healthcare, but it’s just as relevant to policing. Ask a victim of crime if they would rather have a first-rate police response or simply not be a victim in the first place and you’ll receive the same answer. A rapid and effective police response may help with an investigation, but it won’t take away the long-lasting trauma, personal cost and impact on loved ones.

That is why I’m calling for a fundamental change within policing that better balances the vital need for enforcement with proactive crime prevention. And it is proven to work.

In 2019, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners and the National Police Chiefs’ Council commissioned a study into the effectiveness of local crime prevention schemes. It found that “problem-orientated policing”, which uses analysis to form tailored responses to crime, led to a 43 per cent reduction in assaults, neighbourhood watch projects produced a 26 per cent fall in anti-social behaviour and burglary, while cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) resulted in a 25 per cent decrease in offending among those already in the criminal justice system.

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