8 of 10 officers don’t think the reform is improving the police
The local police reform has not provided Norwegians with a better offer, police officers believe. “The police reform has gone awry”, Leader of the Norwegian Police Federation, Sigve Bolstad, states.
The police officers who have participated in the research project, in part, criticize the so-called “near-police reform” which came into force just over three years ago. In a report from the Labour Research Institute, it appears that eight out of ten police officers “totally disagree” or “slightly disagree” in that the reform provides the public with a better police offer. Only 7.4 per cent more or less agree with the statement.
Police officers who have participated in the survey also believe that the police have become more distant from most inhabitants in their daily lives. Nearly two-thirds of them go home with “a bad feeling” after work.
“We are in a situation where we do not get to work as well as before. Then the reform is worse than wasteful,” one of the participants is quoted in the report «the near-police reform and the relations of the police to the public».
The report is prepared by research leader at the Labour Research Institute of Oslo Metropolitan University, Christin Thea Wathne, together with Niri Talberg from Fafo and Helene Gundhus of the University of Oslo. 3,100 police officers participated in the survey, which is in the form of online questionnaires. It will be published on Thursday.
Police Reform has gone awry
“The research confirms that the police reform is inconsistent, that the intentions are not being met, and that this unfortunate development affects the public and police officers,” leader of the Police Federation, Sigve Bolstad, tells NTB.
He also highlights that the findings of the AFI report are supported by the annual evaluation of the Directorate for Administration and ICT (Difi). In its latest evaluation, the Directorate emphasises that “everything cannot be improved and implemented in one go. A clearer priority is needed between the objectives of the reform.
Deputy Head of the Norwegian Police, Håkon Skulstad, believes the AFI report “raises interesting questions” and notes that police officers want both specialisations and to be close to the local community:
“We who are in the police must adapt to handle a changed crime picture. We also have a tight budget and must prioritize. This affects our employees. They work hard to deliver adequately every day. We must look at how we balance operations and development in the future.
Some of the reasons for the reform was the shortcomings of the operational police management that was revealed by the Gjørv commission after the July 22nd attacks [by Anders Behring Breivik]. The result is, among other effects, a modernization and restructuring of the police, which has strengthened the operation centres, and which, to a greater extent than previous reforms, both emphasise emergency preparedness and that police officers must be ready to move out in the event of serious incidents.
In the police districts of Oslo and Southwest, this has led to a feeling that police officers are waiting for terror to happen – and to a lesser extent working on less serious cases. Up to half of the police officers are not allowed to carry out their duties in the way they want to, because of standards for task solving. Fewer than two out of ten police officers differ from this opinion.
Most prominent is perhaps the feeling of being more distant from the public as a result of the reforms. Same as in a preliminary study, where the researchers had in-depth interviewed police officers, the participants in the research project indicate that larger police districts, fewer police stations and less local presence have led to weaker local knowledge among the police officers.
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today