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Effects of Technology on Policing In England and Wales

In the last 15 years, the police force has seen a great transformation in the way they carry out their duties. Detecting and apprehending law offenders has become easier with the development in technology and computing in law enforcement agencies. Since the introduction of technology in the police force, levels of crime not only in England but also on a global scale have significantly subsided. Communication in law enforcement agencies is a vital weapon in fighting crime (Leman-Langlois, 2008). Therefore, computer technology has played a very vital role in the setting up of communication infrastructure in the police force to enhance the fight against crime. This paper sets to identify the impacts of technology on policing in England and Wales.

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It is important to bear in mind that while technology can influence the positive transformation in policing, it also can be disastrous if not well checked. In the UK, the level of crime is very high compared to the surrounding neighbors. Antisocial behaviors are more widespread in the UK compared to Germany (Harris & Romesburg, 2002). The UK spends significant amounts of money on criminal justice (Harris & Romesburg, 2002). This only shows how dire the situation has become (Kraska, 2001). The main aim of having police forces is to maintain law and order. That is the first principle of policing. However, the challenges experienced by police today are far more complex than the challenges they experienced in the 80s and 90s.

New technologies have come along with sophisticated challenges hence the need for reviewing the policing strategies (Klein, 2008). Nonetheless, the police force in the UK is proving to be up for the task with the new strategies that have employed technology to fight crime (Kleiman, 2005). While it is true that criminal mobility has become more complex today owing to technology, regular police patrols have countered this problem (Harris & Romesburg, 2002). Technology has helped the police to analyze the crime hot spots hence providing security patrols more efficiently, where they are needed.

Every day, due to the advancement in technology, new types of crimes are emerging and this is proving to be a challenge to the police (Huxley, 1932). Technology in policing in England and Wales has helped equip law enforcers with information that is vital in the fight against crime. The use of computers has increased in the last few decades in law enforcement and this has had significant impacts on the police force especially in providing and retrieving information. The use of computers also has helped in investigations and keeping records such as fingerprints, which are vital in the forensic department (Harris & Romesburg, 2002). The automated fingerprint identification system AFIS has proved useful in the police force for fighting crime.

The automation of police reports and investigation has led to the timely and accurate retrieval of information. This is helping redeem the tainted image of the police and building the confidence of the people in the police force. In England and Wales, police patrol cars are quite sophisticated. They have computers and cameras installed inside as well as automated license plate readers, which help in apprehending law offenders more effectively (Huxley, 1932). Technology in the UK has widened the scope of police activity by increasing their chances of catching up with law offenders before they even commit the crime. A good example is the Geographical Information System GIS.

With the technology in the police force where they can detect the exact location where a crime is anticipated, this system is used to dispatch personnel to that location. However, the downside of this technology is that nobody would want his or her locale to be marked as the next location where crime is likely to occur. This is simply because the location will be full of security personnel and inconveniences such as stop and frisk are inevitable. The new types of crimes are emerging and the police have to step up and outdo the criminals who are using the latest technologies to commit crimes. Such criminals like hackers and online fraudsters commit their crimes through a computer hence the patrol police might never catch up with such criminals (Christie, 2000).

Technology has brought interesting systems in the police force but also has increased the possibility for criminal activities. Crime has been reduced in England and Wales due to the introduction of surveillance cameras in public places (Christie, 2000). Criminal activities have been reduced especially with the antisocial behaviors in the streets. The surveillance cameras provide a better check on the streets than the police personnel could possibly provide. Other devices like the Lie Detecting Machines have been used in witness examination. In the judiciary, video conferencing is helping save crucial time as well serve the people better. Beyond changing the experience of the individual police patrol, technology is also transforming the law enforcement agencies in a big way (Christie, 2000).

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The law enforcement agencies in the UK have employed a number of technologies that are aimed at enhancing communication between their field operatives and the head offices (Harris & Romesburg, 2002). This has improved crime reporting as well as analysis hence influencing better and more effective tactical operations on crime scenes and areas suspected to be targets of crime. The structure and operation of the law agencies in the UK have also been significantly influenced by technological advancement (Greek, 2000). This has enabled the administrators of these agencies to monitor more effectively the rates of crime as well as the trends of crime in a location or an area of interest (Greek, 2000). Technology has also assisted them to better manage and deploying resources effectively. In addition to that, technology has given the community a better chance to get involved in making their environment safe.

The police have hotlines and customer service departments, which have given the community a voice in the fight against crime. With enhanced communication channels, the community relationship with the police and law enforcement agencies has improved (Greek, 2000). The public ability to communicate with the police has been enhanced by technology. These include social networks, mobile phones, and alternatively, the public can easily log on to the police website and submit their complaints or information there. Fighting crime is vital as it gives room for a harmonious day-to-day operation (Greek, 2000). Technology has enabled the federal government to fuse intelligence with law enforcement agencies. It is through technological advancement that law enforcement agencies have been able to establish and verify the identity of people through biometric precision (Harris & Romesburg, 2002).

This has brought relief to the police force and criminal justice. As noted earlier in the paper, AFIS is the equipment responsible for such accuracy. Through fingerprints, the forensic department can identify crime offenders hence closing cases that would have otherwise remained open for a long time (Harris & Romesburg, 2002). DNA technology also has played an important role in apprehending and verifying the culprits of crimes of biological nature. Innovation in criminal justice technology can be viewed in two dimensions which are hard innovations and soft innovation. The hard innovation includes the introduction of equipment like computers and phones. Any hard device that can be used to commit a crime or stop crime is classified in the category of hardware innovations. On the other hand, software innovations include soft technology such as computer software and information systems (Harris & Romesburg, 2002).

England and Wales have put in places both hard and soft technology to combat crime in the cities. CCTV cameras as I mentioned earlier are on the list of the hard technology innovations that have been put up in the UK. The police have been using soft technology to prevent crime (Harris & Romesburg, 2002). These include the development of risk assessment and threat assessment tools which have been very useful in detecting possible crime scenes (Byrne & Rebovich, 2007). In England and Wales, the following technologies have been used; CCTV, street lighting, citizens protection devices, metal detectors as well as ignition interlock systems aimed for controlling drunk drivers (Harris, & Romesburg, 2002).

The advantages of technology to the police notwithstanding, it is important to note that just as technology has effectively helped fight crime, it has also influenced the rise in criminal activities (Moriarty & Carter, 1998). When a new technology emerges, the criminals are also informed and probably have better knowledge about the innovations than the police. Criminals, therefore, use new technologies to perpetrate their crimes (Byrne, & Rebovich, 2007). Therefore, technological advancement has led also to great criminal activities due to the availability of crime tools (Moriarty & Carter, 1998). Take for instance the internet (Moriarty & Carter, 1998). Through the internet and social media to be specific, different types of soft technology crimes are being committed through the use of mobile phones and computers (Schwabe, 2000). Hackers can hack into financial institutions and accessed the institution’s financial systems hence committing fraud (Harris & Romesburg, 2002).

Several people have been conned of their money through money scams through the internet. Nonetheless, as the criminals get wiser and more sophisticated, it would be a mistake for the law enforcers to be left behind. In as much technology is working to the advantage of lawbreakers, matching up to the same level of technical knowledge is the only option the police have in the bid to combat crimes of whatever nature (Schwabe, 2000). Today’s technology has availed information to everyone regardless of whether they are criminals or not. While this is dangerous since it avails classified information into the wrong hands, it is equally important to make some of this information available to the public (Harris & Romesburg, 2002). Take for example financial institutions (Moriarty & Carter, 1998). Making their finances worth a public issue is important for their business since it displays their worth hence attracting investors.

That notwithstanding, this information reaches the criminal and from that kind of knowledge, a target victim can be settled upon the criminal world (Harris & Romesburg, 2002). While the law enforcers view technology as a solution to a problem the criminals are busy creating more problems through it. However, technology has empowered the police force by providing gadgets that have assisted them in combating crimes (Christie, 2000). Technology has completely disabled the possibility of organized crime in the UK. Organized criminals are having a hard time launching their offenses because the public eye is to watch as well as the city’s installations (Byrne & Rebovich, 2007). The computerization of the police has cut crime threat by almost fifty percent in England and Wales. This is a remarkable achievement but other factors that arise as a result of these must be put into consideration (Moriarty & Carter, 1998). The most striking benefit of technology in fighting crime is the creation of tracking and predicting tools.

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This has enabled the development of crime mapping that is proving to be a very reliable method of fighting crime in England and Wales (Moriarty & Carter, 1998). The police have appreciated the changes in the world we are living in and hence appreciate the need for the transformation of police and their way of operations (Harris & Romesburg, 2002). Technological advancement has direct and indirect impacts on the policing of England and wales. Although there are serious negative implications of technology in terms of crime and crime management, the benefits of technology as outlined in this paper are beyond the possible demerits (Harris & Romesburg, 2002). Fighting crime is a fundamental role of the government and protecting the citizens is the basic responsibility of the law enforcement agencies. Therefore, these two institutions must always stay alert and seize every opportunity available that can help mitigate the problem of insecurity (Moriarty & Carter, 1998).

Technology for instance is providing a number of solutions to crime and the government is doing the right thing in employing the use of ICT and scientific technology to solve this issue. In the long run, criminal activities will further reduce if the law enforcers will be keen to update their equipment to keep up with the recent technological trends (Moriarty & Carter, 1998). This is the only way they can maintain their relevance in fighting and defeating criminals. In conclusion, as I mentioned earlier, every invention has a positive and a negative impact on the policing of any country. Innovations simply provide new ways of doing things and these ways can either be legal or illegal.

Every innovation gives the police a new way of stopping crime while on the other hand, it gives the criminal a new way of committing a crime (Moriarty & Carter, 1998). Therefore, since it is impossible to develop without innovations, law enforcers have the challenge of pursuing criminals with the most recent methods of apprehension as provided by the current technology of the time. The impacts of technology as outlined in this paper depend on the ultimate use of the products of technology. If used for good and legal pursuits, then the results will be good and vice versa is true.

References

Byrne, J. And Rebovich, D 2007, The New Technology of Crime, Law and Social Control, Criminal Justice Press, Monsey.

Christie, N 2000, Crime Control as Industry, Routledge, London.

Greek, C. 2000. “The cutting edge: A survey of technological innovation.” Federal Probation, vol.2, no. 1, pp. 60-61. Web.

Harris, K. & Romesburg, W 2002, “Law Enforcement Tech Guide: How to Plan, Purchase, and Manage Technology.” Sacramento: SEARCH Group. Web.

Huxley, A 1932., Brave New World, Bantom Books, New York.

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Kleiman, M 2005, “When Brute Force Fails: Strategic Thinking for Crime Control.” Final Report to the National Institute of Justice. Web.

Klein, N. 2008. “China’s All Seeing Eye.” Rolling Stone. Web.

Kraska, P.B 2001, Militarizing the American Criminal Justice System: The Changing Role of the Armed Forces and the Police, Northeastern University Press, Boston.

Leman-Langlois, S 2008, Technocrime: Technology, crime, and social control, Willan Publishing, Cullompton.

Moriarty, L. & Carter, D 1998, Criminal Justice Technology in the 21st Century, Charles C. Thomas, Springfield.

Schwabe, W. 2000. “Needs and Prospects for Crime Fighting Technology.” The Federal Role in Assisting State and Local Law Enforcement. Santa Monica. Web.

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