UCL Department of Security and Crime Science


Policing in Diversity

15 November 2017

Professor Ben Bradford, talks about Policing in Diversity, the topic of his inaugural lecture, given at a ceremony at the Mayor's office on 15th November.

November saw the launch of the new Institute of Global City Policing. The Institute for Global City Policing (IGCP) is an independent centre based at the UCL Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science, funded and managed in partnership with the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC).

‘Policing the metropolis’ has always been considered a challenge. The Metropolitan Police Act 1829 was a response to the difficulty of maintaining order in what was then the largest and probably most rapidly developing city in the world. Fast forward 200 years and, in some ways, the picture remains the same. Global cities such as London are constantly growing and changing, and police in those cities face multiple challenges of speed, intensity, quantity, diversity, and publicity.

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), the London Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) and University College London (UCL) have come together to establish The Institute for Global City Policing, the first formal research partnership between the MPS and academia. I am lucky enough to have been appointed its first Director. Within a broad-based programme of police-focussed research, the over-arching aim of the Institute is to help find ways to police London better, with a particular focus on the inter-related issues of public trust and legitimacy, on the one hand, and long-term goals of crime prevention, on the other.

Fundamentally collaborative and inter-disciplinary in nature, the Institute will offer unprecedented access to the Met’s crime and policing data. As London continues to grow amidst a changing global landscape, and as budgets are squeezed, it is imperative to bring together academics, police officers, policy-makers and others in multiple forums to generate knowledge and insight – in terms of ‘what works’ on the ground, and in terms of the broader context of policing.

We launched the Institute on Wednesday 15th November, when I gave my inaugural lecture at an event hosted by MOPAC in the London Living Room at City Hall. With the title ‘Policing in Diversity’, the lecture covered questions of immigration and associated social and economic change, particularly in relation to public trust and legitimacy. I wanted to launch the Institute with the idea that understanding the social, cultural, political and economic climate is vital for understanding policing.

Along with technological change and austerity, immigration and globalization are frequently painted as posing not only challenges but also ‘problems’ for police. But by focussing on police-community relations, and how they are formed and maintained, we can challenge the idea that this is necessarily the case. Immigration and diversity do not in themselves undermine the link between police and public, not least because in the UK immigrants trust the police more than non-immigrants. The challenge for the MPS is to find ways to police that maintain trust and legitimacy as immigrant groups establish a long-term presence in the UK.