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The London Borough Market attack will have taken economic pressure off London’s Metropolitan Police to shed 4000 officers, but police managers in the UK will continue to be under pressure to deliver better outcomes.

The public perception is that senior police are more concerned about progressing internal issues like gender-balanced promotion than they are about protecting the public from petty criminals and would-be terrorists.

A pub landlord in Lancashire recently called police to say he had a break-in in progress. Police told him they were too busy to come. The landlord turned to Facebook, and friends and neighbours soon came to his assistance to secure the intruder until police turned up an hour later.

“Smart policing” will however provide police managers with more efficient methods for dealing with crime. Most cities routinely collect information that is exploitable for law enforcement, crime prevention, protective security, traffic management, energy use and waste reduction.

I recall that when CCTV monitoring was first introduced into Canberra’s Civic Centre, there were protests about privacy issues. Now, thanks to fears of terrorism and city centre violence, the public feels more secure with comprehensive CCTV coverage of public places.

 Smart policing can be either “proactive” and “predictive”.

“Proactive” enforcement is already common in traffic management. As Australians well know, speed or “safety” cameras and the automated issuance of a speeding or traffic offence ticket does not need much human involvement – which makes them cost-effective revenue raisers.

On highways, the days of police using expensive high-powered pursuit cars to stop speeding motorists are numbered. It is a dangerous practice and no longer necessary because average-speed cameras produce better outcomes for less cost.

Speed is of course one of the main causes of traffic accidents. The next step in proactive traffic policing would be fitting every vehicle with a tracking device to allow it to be individually identified and its speed monitored. Enforcement software could be programmed to automatically issue a traffic citation if a vehicle exceeded the speed limit by, say, up to 10 kph for more than 10 seconds.

 

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