The police are being militarised – should we be worried?

Martin Innes writes for The Conversation

Faced by a wave of public concern, the Metropolitan Police has “paused” its planned trial of what it refers to as “spit guards”, but which journalists have dubbed “spit hoods”. These wire mesh devices are placed over the head of a detainee as part of physical restraint procedures to stop them spitting at officers and are already used by several UK police forces.

Some police officers support such equipment on the grounds that being spat at is deeply unpleasant, and in a small number of cases, can put them at risk of contracting diseases. But others worry about what this portends for the conduct of policing in the UK and its traditional ideals.

This is, after all, the latest in a series of recent measures altering how the police practise their legal powers to apply coercive force. For example, in response to an increased terror threat, a process is underway to “uplift” the number of armed police officers in London and across the country – with 1,500 new firearms officers promised for England and Wales – as well as a review of their tactics.

A procurement exercise is currently underway for the next generation of “conductive electric devices”, or “tasers”. And within policing circles a debate is ongoing about which officers should carry these “less than lethal weapons”, as currently not all do.

Appropriate force? Police during the 2010 student protests. Shutterstock

Alongside altering their equipment, police forces have been changing their officers’ look – foregoing the shirt and tunic of previous generations, for more functional dark shirts, cargo trousers, heavy boots and routinely issued stab vests. For officers in more specialist roles such as firearms and public order teams, these fashion trends are even more accentuated. Officers themselves describe it as dressing like a “ninja turtle”. The Metropolitan Police’s new anti-terror unit has a distinctly military look – with the hardware to match.

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Paid Research Placement available to Cardiff University Students, Summer 2016

The Impact of Crime Victimisation on Risk Perception

The Universities’ Police Science Institute (UPSI) is now part of the multidisciplinary Crime and Security Institute (CSI).  The Institute invites CUROP applicants to participate in an innovative programme of work: ‘Rethinking Crime Prevention’.  This work is being conducted as part of the College of Policing’s ‘What Works Centre for Crime Reduction’, a consortium led by the University College London.   The programme takes as its focus the impact of crime victimisation on risk perceptions and preventative behaviour and it utilises data collected by the Institute from a recent public engagement exercise.   This exercise used film narratives to explore the salience of crime prevention messages and the resultant evidence base is now being used to inform a crime prevention field trial in conjunction with the Metropolitan Police Service.

The main focus of this CUROP placement will be to support fieldwork and data collection during the field trial in June-July 2016.   This will cover both quantitative and qualitative methods and, whilst based at our offices in Cardiff, will necessitate some travel to London at key points of the research.

Applications are welcomed from the following academic backgrounds: Criminology, Social Science, Psychology and Political Science. We are looking for a candidate who:

  • Can demonstrable an interest in and/or substantive knowledge about crime prevention, communication methods or the victim experience.
  • Is computer literate, previous experience using Excel and SPSS is desirable.
  • Has good written and oral communication skills.
  • Has a proven ability to work as part of a team.
  • Is able to travel to London as required (travel and subsistence expenses will be met).
  • Has previous training and use of social research methods (desirable).
  • Has not previously participated in a CUROP placement.

The project will run for 8 weeks, with a proposed start week commencing 30th May 2016.  Project findings will be presented in a short report at the end of the placement that links to a number of academic literatures including behavioural economics, social science and psychology.

Students will be paid £200 p.w. (= £1600 total).

Application process and shortlisting

1.  Please write 300 words on why you would be a suitable candidate for this CUROP placement and why it would benefit you.

2. Attach a CV (maximum two pages) which includes: a breakdown of your individual marks on your modules to date; your contact details, and any relevant work or voluntary experience.

3. Submit both documents to by 6th May 2016.

4. Candidates will be notified by 13th May as to whether they have been shortlisted for interview.  Interviews will take place in the week commencing 16th May 2016.


Testing crime prevention messages with a cartoon cat!

Researchers at Cardiff University are looking for members of the public to take part in their social experiment on Crime Prevention.  The experiment is designed to help us find out more about how people think about crime and the behaviours they adopt to prevent crime happening to them.  All you have to do is watch some short films online and answer some questions about your reactions to the information you have just seen.  Results from everyone who takes part will then be used to help the police better understand how and when they can best communicate with people about preventing crime.  Please help make a difference and click here to take part.