The Centre for Public Safety is a UK-based non-profit supporting frontline professionals and advocating for world-class policing and public safety.
We are unique among the current criminal justice landscape in:
- believing that public safety is the primary duty of government,
- recognising that policing does have a major impact on public safety, and
- being headed by an individual with frontline experience of policing and public safety.
We are especially keen to support the work of frontline professionals, to re-declare war on crime and other risks to public safety and to drive transparency and accountability across the wider criminal justice system, which all too often lets down frontline professionals and the public they serve. We also intend to inject much-needed candour and reality to debates on criminal justice, in order to ensure that those who cannot speak for themselves are neither let down nor left at risk.
To protect the citizen as he goes about his lawful business should be the prime duty of Government
Community Policing and Foot Patrol
There is more to policing than foot or cycle patrol - but, done well, it provides the most secure foundation on which the police service and communities can build and draw strength: a close and trusted relationship.
Foot patrols provide the vehicle to close the gap between the public and police, and to best tackle the ‘quality of life’ crime that blights lives, puts people in fear and begets a real or perceived downward spiral into more crime and more disorder.
Rather than viewing foot patrol or community policing as a luxury, police leaders and the service must recognise it as an integral part of delivering world-class policing. Furthermore, foot patrol - when conducted effectively - is viewed extremely favourably by the public with benefits to community relations and the prevention and detection of crime.
The Centre benefits from recent and direct experience of effective foot and cycle patrol strategies and community policing engagement activity, helping inform our work and the activities of our partners.
The Centre welcomes approaches from individuals or agencies with an interest in developing their community policing activity.
[Foot patrol] is an effective method of improving face-to-face communication between community residents and the police.
Supporting Frontline Professionals
World-class policing relies on good relationships with the community at large. However, as importantly, world-class policing relies on frontline professionals being valued and supported in their work.
Frontline professionals recognise the need for accountability and the need to justify their actions. However, in recent years, the environment in which frontline professionals operate has grown increasingly hostile and the mechanisms by which officers and staff are held to account have been found severely lacking.
The Centre for Public Safety believes that police officers and other public safety professionals deserve to be equipped with the tools and equipment that enable them to do their jobs safely and to keep the public safe. The Centre also believes that accountability is integral to world-class policing, but that investigations must be objective and proportionate. Similarly, honest mistakes made in good faith must always be dealt with swiftly and compassionately.
We also believe that there is always going to be room for improvement in the work of public safety. While the majority of those engaged in public safety work are professionals, we must not be afraid of seeking to improve standards and the overall standing of the profession.
The Centre also believes that a strong, well-resourced frontline is vital to maintaining public safety and that while the role of the police extends beyond dealing with crime, police services must be resourced and organised in a manner to fight crime. Those engaged in the fight against crime should be encouraged and recognised.
The views and experiences of the frontline professional should help inform discussions and debate and that's why The Centre will always welcome contact from frontline professionals and will always reach out to the relevant professional bodies and staff associations to provide frontline professionals with a voice and to inform our work.
For that great office [of constable] to thrive, and the police service with it, sight must never be lost of officers' own rights and privileges
Renewing the War on Crime
Many frontline professionals continue to wage war on crime. They do so - often - without thanks and in spite of the system and the incentives that they face. Some are fortunate in having managers who support and encourage them, even where the organisation as a corporate whole appears to have given up the fight.
It's not just some organisations that have, culturally, given up the fight on crime. As a society, some have been successful in portraying criminals as victims and painting policing as part of the problem, rather than the solution. At the same time, beyond the individual satisfaction or the recognition from a specific victim, those professionals who continue to fight crime find themselves taking on risks that simply did not exist just a few years ago.
Simultaneously, those professionals working in our prison system have found themselves facing growing levels of violence and much of the prison estate is now awash with prohibited items, ranging from phones to drugs. Prison can and should be the safest place in our society - at present, it is one of the most dangerous.
Penal reformers say the problem is "prison overcrowding" - when in fact that is merely a symptom. The problem is in fact chronic underinvestment in our prisons. We face a problem of insufficient prison places and a lack of safety for prisoners, not a problem of prison overcrowding. The answer is not to send fewer criminals to prison, it is to increase safe capacity and to provide appropriate rehabilitation programmes.
The Centre will fight to ensure that prison works, by making it a safer place for the most vulnerable and by helping ensure that prisons are resourced appropriately and by researching and calling for reforms within our sentencing system.
In short, we will help support frontline professionals and advocate for world-class policing and public safety, in all our communities by leading the charge to renew a declaration of war on those who commit crime and undermine public safety.
Every society gets the kind of criminal it deserves. What is equally true is that every community gets the kind of law enforcement it insists on.
Transparency and Accountability
Contrary to the claims of many pressure groups, frontline police officers in the UK are perhaps the most accountable group of individuals in the world. They are unique in being readily identifiable through their uniform and shoulder number, the public have the right to complain to both the police and a body independent of police, with numerous opportunities to appeal. Furthermore, the public may generally film and photograph the police as they go about their work.
The same cannot be said of the remainder of the criminal justice system and a light must be shone upon the effectiveness and performance of those portions of the system that have for too long remained unaccountable to the public and professionals.
Virtually everyone involved in the administration of justice other than the police has enjoyed for far too long an undeserved immunity from critical examination
Talking Candidly & Thinking Radically
Political correctness has stifled legitimate debate within many areas of public policy, including the area of policing and criminal justice. Stifling free debate and discussion within the realm of public safety has come at a very real and very high cost for some of the most vulnerable in our society.
Consider the sexual exploitation of at least 1,400 young girls in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013. The Independent Inquiry speaks of senior officers and leaders suppressing reports, disbelieving the data, underplaying the issue and ignoring the problem. Managers directed the ethnic origin of perpetrators not be disclosed. A new progressive tyranny prevailed over professionals charged with safeguarding young people - with victims paying the ultimate price.
In preserving and promoting public safety we will seek to talk candidly and think radically in order to help guard against the sort of tyranny that enables such evils to go unchallenged. In short, we recognise freedom of speech and thought as integral to public safety and will lead the way in researching this important area.
The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it
People must be able to raise concerns without fear of being labelled racist.
Rory Geoghegan is the Founding Director of The Centre for Public Safety and has experience in frontline policing, public policy and consulting.
After three years as a frontline police officer in the London Borough of Lambeth, spending his time as a Dedicated Ward Officer and attached to the Gangs Taskforce, Rory resigned to stand up for public safety professionals and to create The Centre for Public Safety.
Before joining the Metropolitan Police full-time, Rory was a Crime & Justice Research Fellow at Policy Exchange, making regular conference and media appearances and authoring The Future of Corrections, Inside Job and Cost of the Cops.
Prior to this he worked as a senior researcher on transformational change at the Institute for Government and as a commercial and strategy consultant in financial services at PricewaterhouseCoopers. Rory read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Trinity College, Oxford.
We are currently assembling our Advisory Board and will provide further detail in due course.
Trustees will be published in due course.