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Conflict vs. Cosiness Democratic Policing in Northern Ireland & Scotland Fiona McGrath.

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Presentation on theme: "Conflict vs. Cosiness Democratic Policing in Northern Ireland & Scotland Fiona McGrath."— Presentation transcript:

1 Conflict vs. Cosiness Democratic Policing in Northern Ireland & Scotland Fiona McGrath

2 Background Significant changes in structures of government and police institutions in the UK in the last 10 years –Devolution in Scotland and Wales –Recent revival of the Northern Ireland Assembly –Significant changes to policing in Northern Ireland in the wake of the Patten Report, including the establishment of the Office of the Police Ombudsman –Establishment in England and Wales of the new Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) Democratic accountability of police is a very topical issue –Actions of police officers at the G20 protests –Recent allegations of police torture in Enfield –IPCC investigation into police actions in Nottingham Revisiting the work of Jones, Newburn & Smith (1994) on democracy and policing, and developing from this a starting point to compare different police jurisdictions in the UK.

3 Historical context Northern Ireland History of conflict ‘Northern Ireland, which comprises six of the counties of Ulster, was established as a self-governing province in 1920. Northern Ireland has always been dominated by Unionist parties, which represent the Protestant majority. Many members of the Roman Catholic minority favour union with the Republic of Ireland. Discrimination against the latter group led to violent conflicts and (from 1969) the presence of British army units to keep the peace. Terrorism and sectarian violence by the Provisional IRA and other paramilitary groups, both Republican and Loyalist, resulted in the imposition of direct rule from Westminster in 1972. Multi-party talks begun in 1996 led to an agreement between most political parties in 1998. In 1999 a devolved parliament was inaugurated, with representation from both Nationalist and Unionist groups’ (OED). Role of Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) – the militaristic, colonial police force often accused of defending the interests of the Protestant state at the expense of the rights of the minority - in conflict led to alienation of Catholic community and embroilment of the force in several controversies.

4 Historical context Policing a very politically sensitive issue that had to be tackled if the peace process could move forward. Independent Commission on Policing (ICP) charged with the task of making proposals for future policing structures and arrangements. Report of the Commission led to radical overhaul of policing including the establishment of a new police service, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). The reforms were so innovative that the model has become a global brand for modern policing. Scotland More peaceful history. ‘Normal’ policing. Innovative early development of policing in Scotland – Glasgow had first UK police force nearly 30 years before the establishment of the Met. However, today it is the only jurisdiction in the UK not to have an independent police complaints body.

5 Aims & Objectives The project aims to map out existing mechanisms for democratic accountability of public policing bodies in Northern Ireland & Scotland. The mapping exercise will be used as a basis to compare the different ways in which the two police jurisdictions: –provide opportunities for public participation in, and oversight of, the setting of police priorities and objectives; –the extent to which the public can participate as informed actors in priority setting; and –other aspects of democratic policing, such as opportunities for redress in cases of perceived injustice. The research can be summed up in one primary question: To what extent & in what ways do the current structures and institutions of public policing bodies in Northern Ireland & Scotland provide for ‘democratic’ policing?

6 Concepts I will be looking at four out of seven of Jones et al’s (1994) dimensions of democratic policing: Redress: Representative bodies should be able to dismiss chief officers. There should also be means of redress for individuals who have been wronged by the police. Distribution of power: The power to determine policing policy should be distributed between a number of bodies, rather than being concentrated among few. Participation: As far as possible, individuals should participate in discussion of policing policy with police management. Information: This should be published regularly. Representative bodies should be able to engage with police management so as to become better informed and to obtain relevant information.

7 Concepts & Operationalisation Confidence: Public/community confidence in the police. Operationalisation Redress: complaints handling bodies and procedures. Distribution of power: structures of governance and the sharing of power between Chief Constables, police authorities and public forums. Participation: structures in place to ensure public participation in discussion of policing policy. Information: what information is publicly available about police funding, activities, expenditure and output. Confidence: more difficult to operationalise. Police surveys could be used to measure this.

8 Methods Much of the basic work for my project can be done using public documentation, legislation and policy papers. However, to examine the structures and procedures in operation, interviews and observation will be conducted at various levels: Interviews with complaints handling staff in police and other bodies Interviews with senior officers Interviews with civil servants and government ministers Observation of police authority meetings and other police-public meetings Possible short ethnography prior to interviews?

9 Problems Access: Specifically a problem in Northern Ireland. History of researchers encountering difficulties when attempting police research there. Solutions: –Developing informal relationships with police before making the formal request to undertake research –Presenting research project in favourable light –Using contacts gained from networking –Using support from Scottish side as leverage? Difficulties operationalising/measuring confidence Solutions: –Use of surveys –Any ideas? Personal identity: how my identity/identity of respondents affects research – political & religious baggage. Solutions: –Take a reflexivity course

10 Expected Outcomes Research can go beyond merely identifying apparent pitfalls and benefits of different systems of policing to examine why particular forms develop in particular contexts. This should feed into the development of policies for the maintenance of legitimate policing in each jurisdiction, without an assumption of transferability of policy and mechanisms. The study will also make an important contribution to debates on the nature of democracy, relationships between democracy and accountability, and between different concepts of democracy and policing structures and practices. References Jones, T., Newburn, T. & Smith, D. (1994) Democracy and Policing. London: Policy Studies Institute.

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