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Widening Access: Improving police relations with hard to reach groups

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Widening Access: Improving police relations with hard to reach groups
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  Police Research SeriesPaper 138 Widening Access: Improving police relations with hard to reach groups Trevor Jones Tim Newburn   Police Research SeriesPaper 138 Widening Access: Improving police relations with hard to reach groups Trevor JonesTim Newburn “The views expressed in this report are those of the authors, not necessarily those of the Home Office (nor do they reflect Government policy).”  Editor: Carole F. Willis Home Office Policing and Reducing Crime Unit Research, Development and Statistics Directorate Clive House, Petty France London, SW1H 9HD   © Crown Copyright 2001First Published 2001 Policing and Reducing Crime Unit: Police Research Series The Policing and Reducing Crime Unit (PRC Unit) is part of the Research,Development and Statistics Directorate of the Home Office. The PRC Unit carriesout and commissions research in the social and management sciences on policingand crime reduction.The Police Research Series presents research material on crime prevention anddetection as well as police management and organisation issues. ISBN 1-84082-594-4 Copies of this publication can be made available in formats accessible to the visually impaired on request. (ii)   Foreword This report is part of a wider programme of research on police-community relationscarried out by the Home Office’s Policing and Reducing Crime Unit (Research,Development and Statistics Directorate). The programme aims to address some ofthe key issues about enhancing public trust and confidence in the police servicewhich have been highlighted by the Report of the Inquiry into the Death of StephenLawrence and recent HMIC thematic inspections on policing diversity.This report examines a range of police force initiatives to strengthen communityrelations. In particular, it looks at consultation with vulnerable sections of thecommunity (i.e. those groups which have been seen to be hard to reach). It drawson a telephone survey of all forces in England and Wales, as well as more detailedqualitative research carried out in five case study forces. For each case study, in-depth interviews were carried out with police and police authority staff, as well asmember of local communities. The report highlights some of the problems with the notion of ‘hard to reachgroups’. Use of the term is often inconsistent and misleading, and can have astigmatising affect. The report emphasises the need for police forces to focus ondeveloping relations with the many publics they serve. In so doing, it recommendsthat hard to reach groups should be identified more precisely, rather than relying ona prescribed set of groups (e.g. minority ethnic, gay and lesbian communities).The ways in which forces have identified and negotiated access with hard to reachgroups are described in this report. In particular, the role that formal consultationplays in these processes is explored. It is clear that, in the case study forces, theimpact of consultation with hard to reach groups has been greatest on central andlocal police policies rather than on officer practice and the attitudes of thecommunity. The report also sets out some of the limitations of consultationhighlighting, for example, the dangers of consultation overload and the lack of co-ordination. It points to the need for realism in what can be achieved byconsultation, stressing that consultation is important but not a substitute for morepractical and effective community involvement. Carole F. Willis Head of Policing and Reducing Crime Unit Research, Development and Statistics Directorate Home Office January 2001  (iii)   Acknowledgements Our thanks go the officers and staff of the five case study forces, and to those inlocal statutory and voluntary sectors, for their considerable help in support of ourfieldwork. The work would not have been possible without their encouragement andparticipation and we are most grateful to them for making time for us in theiralready overcrowded schedules. Paul Quinton and Nick Bland were kind andsupportive research colleagues in the Home Office and our thanks to them forseeing this report through to publication. Most importantly, we would like toacknowledge the hard work done once again by Joe Elliott who travelled thecountry enthusiastically and was rarely ‘ hard to reach ’ . The authors Trevor Jones is a lecturer in criminology at the University of Cardiff. Tim Newburnis the Joseph Rowntree Foundation Professor of Urban Social Policy at GoldsmithCollege, University of London.PRC would like to thank Dr Ian Loader, of the Department of Criminology, KeeleUniversity and Dr Clifford Shearing, of the Centre of Criminology, University ofToronto in Canada, both of whom acted as independent assessors for this report. (iv) 
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