COVID19 lockdown has reinforced the importance of public service and neighbourhood policing to community resilience

Wednesday, 22 April, 2020

The COVID19 lockdown has created a new normal that has reinforced the importance of public service and the contribution of neighbourhood policing to community resilience. These factors will be vital to community cohesion as society and the economy struggle to recover from the impact of the pandemic.

This new perspective emerged from a webinar held by Resilience First and the Police Foundation and addressed by Sir Craig Mackey QPM, former Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service.

Addressing the webinar, Sir Craig Mackey said:

“If you said 8-10 weeks ago that you had to design a system where people are crowdsourcing masks or building stuff on 3D printers for the NHS or coming together with their neighbours that they have never met, you would have said that will never happen.

“But through the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen a very, very different public debate in a short space of time around people’s understanding of what public service is and what it means to be a public servant and I would include policing and many, many other areas in that.

“We police with the support of the community. We don’t have a model in this country, nor do we want one, where policing is just an enforcement mechanism. Policing has tried to be very careful where it manages the boundaries with the new lock down rules. 99% of people want to comply with them.

“The British policing model is incredibly conscious of the importance of the relationship and the consent it has with communities to allow it to operate. If the first time you talk to a community is when something goes wrong, that is going to be a very hard debate.”

Rick Muir, Director of ThePolice Foundation, agreed saying:

“One of the things that we have really benefited from in this current crisis is the level of trust and legitimacy that our police do actually have in the UK. That is something that we have been paying into the bank account for a very long time.

“Most people trust the police and the police have a good reputation and we are very much relying on that now in order to get the kind of consent and co-operation that we need.”

Robert Hall, Executive Director of Resilience First, explained why community resilience and the role of the police is so important to recovery from the pandemic:

“The COVID19 pandemic has already marked a major change to the routine and lifestyles of individuals, organisations and communities. Over the next few months the virus is likely to test our societal bonds, perhaps as never before, and usher in a new normal with social distancing, economic recession and shielding of the older generation all providing significant challenges to our social cohesion.

“Communities will be an important element in any recovery. Even as people self-isolate and adopt social-distancing measures, communities will prove to be the bedrock of our societal cohesion. Already we have seen a new level of neighbourliness and a new community appreciation of public servants and other essential workers in the weekly Clap for Our Carers.

“The role of neighbourhood police officers is central to this. They provide the route to enforcement of the new social rules and they can do this most effectively if they have both a deep understanding of their local community and the consent of that community to apply the rules of the new normal.” 

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