How has the COVID-19 lockdown damaged the reputation and authority of policing in the UK and impacted current and future service delivery?

Kadry, Ahmed How has the COVID-19 lockdown damaged the reputation and authority of policing in the UK and impacted current and future service delivery? In: Institute of Policing Conference 2020: 'Doing Support in the Pandemic'., 23 Jul 2020, University of Chester (online).

Abstract

The lockdown in the United Kingdom as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted vulnerabilities within policing in its ability to simultaneously enforce legislation and improve its reputation and cohesion with the public. Several incidents have exasperated this, including the often confusing and changing guidance set out by the government on what members of the public could and could not do, to the Dominic Cummings incident on whether he broke lockdown legislation and the very public support he received from both Prime Minister and the Attorney General. This has left police forces and their officers to interpret and achieve the right balance in their service delivery to the public in enforcing lockdown legislation, while also being aware that the lockdown and resulting legislation was not welcomed by significant sections of the public. This balance was not always achieved, with notable incidents including the use of drones to enforce lockdown widely criticised as an overstep by policing and policing being out of touch with the communities it is meant to serve.

While policing has endured a complex period in continuing to police its communities via their consent, police unpopularity is arguably made more obvious by the very public celebration of another public-serving institution, namely the NHS, where the police have been seemingly left out of the celebration for key workers. Finally, with Black Lives Matter protests beginning while lockdown was in place which saw violent clashes between protestors and the police, this paper will raise and explore important questions on the future of policing, including what damage has been done to the reputation of policing in England to continue its service delivery to the public through their consent, and what damage has been done that may impact the attraction of new recruits as well as the diversity pool of those wanting to become police officers.

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