New types of crime
The Police Service of Northern Ireland faced an unusual set of circumstances.
Over the last decade of austerity in the UK, they saw their budget reduced by 25%, resulting in 17% fewer officers. Despite this, crime rates actually dropped by 33% over the same period.
The end of the Troubles left the PSNI with a unique challenge: now that they no longer had to allocate such significant resources to tacking violent crime and terrorism, what should they focus on? Criminal damage and theft had decreased; however, police now needed to deal with complex crimes like sexual exploitation and cyber harassment.
Involving the public in police priorities
It was a question they needed to put to the people, but they needed the right platform to do so. Because of the nature of the situation – i.e., it wasn’t a case of allocating money or balancing a budget, but of prioritising use of existing resources – they decided to use Simulator. Respondents were allocated 100 points to ‘spend’ on the areas of policing that mattered to them the most, such as community policing, criminal justice investigations and emergency response. Each decision they made was accompanied by informative impact statements, detailing what real-world implications their choices would have were the PSNI to adopt them.
Thoughtful, informed responses
This meant that citizens’ responses were fully informed and carefully considered, resulting in high-quality data for the PSNI to work with. With over 4000 submissions received, the exercise was a triumph in public participation, and the people of Northern Ireland were meaningfully involved in shaping the future of their police services.
We needed those answering the consultation to have an understanding of the demands PSNI face and how challenging it is to balance the resource across the various demands on local policing. The simulator was an ideal way of doing this, it was interactive and not only did we receive feedback, we received feedback which was more informed.Inspector, Police Service of Northern Ireland