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Workforce Modernization, Outsourcing and the 'Permanent Revolution' in Policing

NCJ Number
Crime Prevention and Community Safety Volume: 11 Issue: 1 Dated: February 2009 Pages: 34-47
Rob C. Mawby; Geoff Heath; Lynne Walley
Date Published
February 2009
14 pages
This article explores outsourcing police officer duties rather than transferring them to police staff.
Results show that workforce modernization represents a key issue for contemporary policing in England and Wales despite having a low profile, disproportionate to its significance. Analysis suggests that it can achieve genuine efficiency and effectiveness gains, though possibly at the cost of worker inequity and organizational fragmentation. There is the potential for alternative futures for workforce modernization, each of which project quite different shapes for the 21st century police service. Three possible models were discussed. The first, the inertia model suggests a workforce of police officers together with police support staff undertaking more diverse roles, but within an under-developed structure for police staff progression. But there is the possibility that the police service could become more fragmented, and less accountable, driven by profit, characterized by low morale, and a shifting staff base. The second, the market-led model is imposed on ideological grounds that police forces would outsource some functions to third-party contractors, guaranteeing a basic level of service, without police responsibility for the terms and conditions of employment. The third is the professional model where the police service may develop into a modern and highly skilled organization that is responsive to communities. Becoming less of a hierarchical command and control organization, the police service it would be a flatter organization of mixed teams of warranted and non-warranted staff plus volunteers working closely with the public to help achieve the government’s community safety vision. Using the professional model would be the most challenging of the models, but seems practical and capable of being achieved. The study was draw from concern on the outsourcing of the detention officer role in two police station custody suites in a county police force between 2004 and 2006. Note, references