Why we consult
The South Yorkshire Police Authority regards community consultation as one of its most important roles. This is because Policing in Britain is a major public service, carried out with public consent.
Section 96 of the Police Act 1996 requires Police Authorities to make arrangements for consultation between the police and the public.
Aims of consultation
The aims of the South Yorkshire Police Authority’s Consultation strategy are:
To determine the views of local people on police policy and policing priorities so that the Police can work with the consent and input of the community
Develop relationships between the police and the communities served in relation to tackling local crime and disorder
Maintaining the confidence and trust in policing amongst all communities.
A joint review undertaken during 1999/2000, between South Yorkshire Police and the Police Authority, resolved that the following methods of consultation should be adopted in South Yorkshire.
Methods of Consultation Used
The questionnaire can be used to rate public opinion of a specific issue. Alternatively, by repeating key questions, trends in public opinion can be measured to indicate whether the public believe the service is improving or not.
Please click the following link to view the outcomes of the Police Talk Questionnaires held to date.
Focus Groups / Small Group Interviews and jobs
Utilising the results of ‘Police Talk’, small groups of individuals (10 – 15) can be invited to discuss their reasons why they responded in a particular way to questions in the survey. This provides the police with a greater understanding of the issue in order to influence the service to meet the requirements of the public. Examples of the focus groups held to date following Police Talk Questionnaires are:
Contacting the police (what methods are available and how are these utilised?)
Under-reporting of crime (you were the victim of a burglary/vehicle crime – what stopped you from reporting it?)
Accessibility of police stations (opening hours)
999 response times (what should the target for emergency response times be?)
Reporting of racist incidents (you were a victim of a racist incident – what stopped you from reporting it?)
Speed Cameras (your opinions of appropriate usage)
Police understanding (of the needs of our community)
Safety of women (in town centres and on public transport)
Open Meetings / Public Forums
Traditionally, public forums have been utilised by South Yorkshire Police Authority to gain the views of the local population. They remain a key method of consultation however, South Yorkshire along with other Police Authorities recognised weaknesses in the methodology and the need for new techniques and cheap laptops.
The public forums were retained as a method of consultation to add to the mix of methods now adopted. The forums are now held to focus upon specific issues affecting the community and are chaired by members of the Police Authority. These public forums are organised on a policing district basis, click the following link for further information on District Consultation.
Serving You is a publication issued twice yearly to all households (approximately 581,000) by South Yorkshire Police and the Police Authority. The publication includes regular updates regarding developments within the Force, contact details, staying safe advice and budget information, as well as progress against targets, including Best Value. It is the most effective way of informing the public of changes to the service, however, it is only a ‘one-way’ method of consultation. Please click the following link if you would like to access an on-line version of the most recent edition of Serving You.
‘Under-represented' and 'Minority Groups'
There are a number of groups within any society who are identified as being under-represented in public consultation, or those who have particular needs from a service provider. For this reason, South Yorkshire Police and the Police Authority place particular emphasis on consulting with these groups. In addition to local arrangements, Countywide Independent Advisory Groups exist for the ethnic minority communities and the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Trans-gendered community, to inform the police how the service can be tailored to meet their needs. Also, arrangements exist for consultation with the deaf and blind communities in the county. Please click the following link for more information on consultation with under-represented and minority groups.
Other Local Consultation
In addition to all of the above, Police Officers continue to engage with Tenants and Residents Associations, Neighbourhood Watch Groups, Schools, Religious Groups and other local community organisations. The intention is not for Officers to attend every meeting of each community group, as there are simply too many meetings for this to be viable. Instead, Officers will attend when they are invited and there is a specific issue to be discussed or reason for them to be present.
The consultation undertaken at this level is now being recorded so that South Yorkshire Police can demonstrate, by policing district and by ward, how many people have been consulted, the location of the consultation, the issues raised and the age, gender and ethnic background of those consulted. This will allow the main issues reported to be included in the Force Annual Policing Priorities, as well as influencing the priorities of the policing district plans. It will also mean that the police will be capable of identifying locations or specific groups that aren’t being covered by the existing consultation arrangements and target their efforts accordingly.
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