Restorative policing: rebuilding public trust

Published: Friday, May 5th, 2023

This is a blog written by our Campaigns and Communications Manager Meka Beresford.

This weekend, the Metropolitan Police Force is expected to undertake one of its largest security operations yet as hundreds of thousands of people will flock to London for the coronation of King Charles.

Nearly 30,000 police officers will be deployed across the bank holiday weekend, managing crowds, road closures, and a number of high-profile guests. With an increased police presence across the capital, the number of searches will likely increase. It has also been speculated by campaigners that part of the ‘Golden Orb’ security operation will include the use of live facial recognition technology, a controversial method that matches scans of faces in crowds with a database of people of interest to the police.

The coronation comes just weeks after Baroness Casey found the Metropolitan Police Service to be institutionally racist, homophobic, and misogynist in an independent review of the behaviour and internal culture of the service. The Casey review identified institutional and systemic failings that have allowed discrimination to become further embedded deep into the culture of the service.

The release of the review, and questions over police tactics this weekend, highlight the need for a significant shift in policing – one which will rebuild the public trust.

Can Restorative policing help rebuild public trust?

Restorative Policing is a style of policing that incorporates restorative values, such
as listening to all parties, working towards a shared way forward, and not being
overly reliant on enforcement.

It is a “problem-oriented, community-style of policing that aims to resolve conflict in civil society more amicably and sensitively without always resorting to strict law enforcement. It calls on police officers to exercise their judgement and use negotiation and persuasion to resolve problems”.

Restorative policing could be practically implemented by the Met with assistance from the College of Policing and Chief Constables, in part by building on the “Four Es Guidance”, a “common sense approach” for policing under Covid-19 regulations.

The Four Es: engage, explain, encourage, and, as a last resort, enforce, incorporated restorative principles and demonstrated an effective way to police by consent.

This template could be used to demonstrate additional circumstances outside of policing Covid-19 related incidents, such as public order policing, the use of stop and search, and policing neighbourhood conflicts. We would welcome the use of ‘Four Es’ guidance in building a more restorative police force that can rebuild confidence with the public.

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