Global progressive policing

Mike Scott: ‘A global movement? Understanding the origins and impact of Problem-Oriented Policing’

Problem solving

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Problem solving is a systematic process for preventing persistent problems. As a concept it was Herman Goldstein who, in the late 1970s, proposed a plan for improving policing that called on the police to focus less on their response to individual incidents and more on their ability to resolve persistent problems that affect the community. Goldstein called the approach ‘problem-oriented policing’ (POP). In many areas of the world it is often referred to simply as ‘problem solving’.

Problem solving is not standard policing. Nor is it a manual for solving problems. Problem solving is a method. It involves the analysis of data to identify and understand repeat sources of demand and then to work in a people-centric way on the response and solutions. It is about working creatively and often collaboratively with others  -including partner agencies and the community – to devise tailored responses to local problems. And it carries a commitment to put prevention first, minimising the need for arrest and enforcement (though recognising these are effective and important tools when used appropriately and wisely) in favour of alternative, effective and sustainable solutions.

Problem-solving can be applied to an incredibly wide range of issues. From burglary to robbery, from homicide to anti-social behaviour, to criminal groups and gangs, and to safeguarding the vulnerable. Extensive evidence finds problem solving to be highly effective at tackling the wide range of crime and public safety issues that police and other agencies need to deal with.

This three-part series by Mark Evans Police Executive, University Honorary Professor of Practice, and Senior Associate fellow at the Police Foundation, provides insights into the world of problem solving, from leading experts in this global field:

In the first video, Professor Mike Scott, Director of the US Center for Problem-Oriented Policing, talks about the origins of POP, and the early influence of working alongside Herman Goldstein. Professor Scott discusses the importance of problem-solving in delivering fairer and more equitable policing, coupled with a strong emphasis on effectiveness; explains how well embedded problem-solving is; talks to the critical importance of leadership, and provides examples of good practice, including insights into new and emerging areas of crime and future challenges. Professor Scott also explains how to access the resources of the US POP Center and how to participate in the prestigious annual Herman Goldstein POP Awards.

Further information is available online:

Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

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