Policing Partnerships: An Investigation into the Police Response to Partnership Working in the Wake of the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act
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This thesis is based upon empirical research, which explores how the police service in one Constabulary area has accommodated the mandate to work in crime prevention partnerships with other agencies, following the implementation of the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act. The focus is specifically upon crime and disorder reduction partnerships (CDRPs). The research is based upon a multi-method research design. It draws most heavily upon data obtained from semi-structured interviews with police officers holding varying experiences of crime prevention partnership working across one Constabulary area. It also analyses official documents, and draws upon the results of a short survey combined with the author's own relevant experiences as a serving police officer engaged within the partnership arena. The research is informed by a literature review, which examines the police service role in crime prevention alongside wider aspects of police reform and partnership working. The literature review suggests the police service has been drawn reluctantly into greater engagement with crime prevention, and that crime prevention competes, often unsuccessfully, against other aspects of policing, which have been promoted within the wider police reform agenda. It also suggests that partnership working in crime prevention has had a difficult and chequered history. Despite official efforts to encourage the adoption of 'critical success factors' in partnership working, such working has more usually encountered a range of obstacles, relating particularly to difficulties in inter-organisational relations, and the ambiguities contradictions and tensions, which have been an inherent feature of policy making in this area. The research upon which this thesis is based supports much of what is found in the literature, however, it also expands considerably upon the problems posed to partnership working by a range of 'intra'- organisational issues. In particular, certain features of the police organisational and occupational culture, which serve to Undermine partnership working by treating it more as a symbolic, legitimacy building function and by regarding it as out-of-place within a largely 'detectionist', 'here and now', dominant construction of policing. In addition, by introducing alternative lines of accountability' through to government offices, as well as to other agencies, partnership working, in the wake of the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act, provokes an internal organisational politics, which threatens to undermine the authority of police headquarters and has prompted a defensive internal response, which continues with the advent of Local Area Agreements (LAAs). Despite or even because of these problems, the police have tended to dominate local CDRPs i n the areas examined by the research. However, they have used such dominance largely to contain the threat to the culture and authority of the police, rather than to exploit the potential for genuine, proactive, problem-oriented partnership working.
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