Wednesday, 28 March 2012

August 2011 Disorder: Communities and Victims Panel Report

This morning I just thought that I would draw attention to the report by the Communities and Victims Panel into the events of August 2011.  The disorder was covered, quite extensively, on this and other blogs.

In total, the Panel make 63 recommendations.  Lack of money and resources seem to pervade society these days and it must be doubtful whether, in this climate, some of the recommendations will proceed very far.  Many of the recommendations are not particularly of a legal nature, though some of them are.

Themes - The recommendations relate to various themes: Children and Parents; Personal resilience; Hopes and Dreams; Brands; Usual Suspects; Police and Public; Community Engagement, Involvement and Cohesion.

Some recommendations of legal interest -

Greater use of "restorative justice" in "riots related cases" (Rec. 40).  Here is a subject
which has been around for some time but there seems to have been very little done by way of implementation - (Law and Lawyers 15th April 2010 - Restorative Justice ???). 

Recommendation 44 calls for greater availability to the public of data on the outcome of community sentences with a view to improving public perception.  There is a public perception that community sentences are a "soft-option" and ineffective at reducing re-offending.  Regrettably, this perception is fed by some media reporting who will, for example, report that someone given a suspended sentence of imprisonment combined with conditions (e.g. unpaid work etc) has "walked free." 

"Intensive Alternatives to Custody" schemes for young adults should be developed (Rec. 45) and "Mentoring" of every young adult (18-24) should be a requirement on completion of imprisonment.  "Mentors should be positive and inspirational role models, such as former offenders who have turned their lives round." (Rec. 46).

Recommendation 49 states what, in reality, ought to be a "given" in this country - "It is important that communities perceive the police to act will integrity at all times.  Whilst not claiming accuracy, the body of the report states that 1 in 3 people think the Police are corrupt and 1 in 5 think they are dishonest.  Hence, the police services are recommended to engage with communities to "debunk myths on issues that affect the perception of their integrity, in particular around deaths of black men in police custody.  Further, every neighbourhood policing team should have its own social media capability by the end of 2012 (Rec. 51).  Police services should put in place strategies to ensure that community views are taken into account (Rec. 53).

Recommendation 54 relates to the feeling, in many communities - particularly London - that stop and search is not conducted fairly.  The Metropolitan Police Service needs to be more transparent in the justification for and use of their stop and search powers.  (Interesting this in the light of recent government-led changes to reduce the information given to those stopped). 

Turning to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) the report recommends that the IPCC develops and implements a strategy to close the gap in trust levels in the police complaints system - (Rec. 56).   Some other recommendations relating to complains then follow but perhaps of particular interest is that the report suggests the ending of so-called "managed investigations."    The IPCC should look to reduce its use of former police officers and staff as investigators, particularly at senior levels - (Rec. 60) and "managed investigations" should not longer be undertaken by the IPCC but should be transferred to the IPCC's own investigators so that the system is more independent (Rec. 61).

Noting the introduction of elected Police and Crime Commissioners (see Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011), the report recommends a mechanism to ensure the principle of mutual aid (between forces) can still function effectively once the Commissioners are appointed - (Rec. 62).

1 comment:

  1. There were a few score thousand rioters and the rest of us were all too a greater or lesser extent victims. And this report is yet another example of the culture of blaming the victim.

    The rioters were to blame. Nobody else.