Essay on Importance of Accountability

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Police accountability is an issue that is under constant scrutiny in today's society. The statement ‘police are more accountable now than they have ever been’ is a highly controversial statement with which I agree with to some extent. Due to the constant scrutiny our police force faces, there are continuous new ways emerging how to make the accountability of police officers more reliable. This is extremely important as accountability is essential for the maintenance of the public's faith in the police (Walker, 2005). In England and Wales, the shift of the focus on accountability is clear from political issues in regard to who controls the police in the 1980s, to the focus we see today on police performance and effectiveness (Addidle 2014). However, even though new ways have emerged to ensure the police stay accountable such as body cameras and whistleblowers, there is still I high level of criticism that police accountability faces. As Bayley 1983 suggests the police are controlled and made accountable in a variety of ways but none of these is problem free. In this essay, I aim to critically evaluate the statement that police are more accountable now than they have ever been, with reference to the accountability mechanisms of body-worn cameras and XYZ…… I will also demonstrate how police accountability is not just a problem in England and Wales but also worldwide. I also aim to demonstrate how accountability is just one strand of a web that interlinks with each other where we refer to issues in law enforcement. As Baldwin 1987 argues, there are a number of bases on which support for policing can be founded and that accountability is just one of these.

The first degree of control in any police accountability system is the internal control mechanisms within the police service as it is preventing corruption and unlawful behavior and enabling them to be more accountable for their actions. Effective internal control mechanisms have an essential role to play within a police accountability system, both from a preventive and reactive perspective. The body-worn camera is a clear example of internal control mechanism at work. The use of body-worn cameras by police forces around the world is spreading quickly. The resulting mobile and ubiquitous surveillance are often marketed as an instrument for accountability and an effective way of reducing violence, discrimination, or corruption. Although body cameras are a clear example of police accountability developing, it would not have been without the development of technology. So, in this sense, I would argue that as technology and our society move forward, it is only fitting that police should become more accountable and different methods and mechanisms appear. Therefore, the development of bodycams leads to the agreement that “police are the most accountable they have ever been”. However, Manning 2015 argues that new technologies will not change police behavior unless There’s a corresponding change to law enforcement culture and therefore the use of developing technologies will not improve police accountability. I disagree with this statement from Manning to a certain extent however, a clear example of body cams not working to ensure police accountability is the George Floyd case (Coleman 2020). After the Michael Brown case in America, in which there were factual disputes as there was no recording of what led up to the shooting, Brown’s mother fought for police to wear body cameras (Aton 2016). This was a watershed moment that sparked the national movement toward police departments adopting body cameras (Sanburn 2014). Although officers were wearing body cameras in the George Floyd case, it still leads to a person being killed and did not deter this behavior. This demonstrates that body cameras cannot always deter police officers and make them accountable for their actions. Although both of these cases were in America, they still occur in England like the Sean Rigg case. Rigg was dealing with mental illness and died at the hands of the police. Riggs's sister recently spoke out about the immediate parallels between her brother and George Floyd’s death. Once again highlight how the issue of police accountability is a worldwide issue, but more importantly, although times are developing and there are several new mechanisms in place to make the police more accountable, it raises the questionable nature of whether or not these new reforms change anything. This highlights my opinion that bottom-up techniques are not really working. Especially how they were intended. As well as BWC,

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As mentioned above, there are constantly new things emerging when it comes to the development of police accountability. A clear example of how this has developed is in the form of top-down agencies such as the IOPC (formerly the IPCC) and the PCC. The Police Crime Commissioners (PCC) was introduced to oversee English and Welsh police forces to be the ‘voice of society and to hold the police to account by aiming to cut crime and deliver an efficient police service. Under The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act, one of their roles is to make sure local priorities are joined up. By ways of transparency to ensure this union, they are required to publish a range of performance and finance reports online. This shows us a clear strength in the aim to reduce the ‘downward’ way of policing. These mechanisms allow for members of the public to hold their local police force accountable. This demonstrates a key way in which the accountability of the police has risen and become more important. This can be supported by Hood 2010 who states transparency is a pre-requisite of accountability because it gives the ‘principal’ access to potentially valuable data relating to their ‘agent’ (Hood, 2010). I agree with the statement from Hood 2010 as I believe that the demonstration of transparency is an extremely important aspect of the PCC’s aim to allow the public to ensure their local force is held accountable. In addition to transparency, discretion is another interlinking theme with accountability when it comes to PPCS. Addie 2014 supports this by stating, that the growth in public awareness of police discretion, has led to a stronger need for more effective accountability. By introducing the PCC it can be argued that it restores faith in the system amongst the public as it is intended to ensure transparency into police discretion and other issues within local forces. However, Murphy 2017 argues that there is a large risk in the growth of mechanisms such as PCCs as the public does not always have a clear explanation of the roles and responsibilities under the new arrangements. This makes it difficult for officials to account for their actions. He supports this argument by suggesting that the new arrangements are more complex. I agree with the claims Murphy presents in his article, as he highlights a key finding, in which, the public might find the new mechanisms too confusing. This defeats the object of the PCCs as it creates an opaque relationship between local residents and the reforms.

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Essay on Importance of Accountability. (2022, December 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 22, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/essay-on-importance-of-accountability/
“Essay on Importance of Accountability.” Edubirdie, 27 Dec. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/essay-on-importance-of-accountability/
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Essay on Importance of Accountability [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Dec 27 [cited 2024 Jun 22]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/essay-on-importance-of-accountability/
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