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Title: Policing and community safety partnerships and the potential use of crime mapping tools within Northern Ireland
Author: McGinley, Brendan
ISNI:       0000 0004 5990 0273
Awarding Body: Ulster University
Current Institution: Ulster University
Date of Award: 2016
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Policing and Community Safety Partnerships (PCSPs) were established in Northern Ireland (NI) in April 2012 and aim to make communities safer. Making communities safer should be carried out through four different functions: community consultation, identification and prioritisation of local issues, performance monitoring and delivering crime reduction. Each of the 26 local government districts within Northern Ireland (NI) has its own PCSP, which holds internal and public meetings throughout each year based on prevalent local issues. PCSPs have used various techniques to try and engage with local people, to collaboratively create and develop local solutions to local problems. One of these techniques has involved the development of a new and unique tool which gathers data from a range of local agencies, such as local young offending, housing, education and health authorities, as well as crime data, and presents the information by taking advantage of their common denominator: geography. Due to PCSPs being a relatively recent community safety development in Northern Ireland at the time this study took place, there was a lack of literature available regarding the operation of those partnerships. Indeed, this was the first academic research undertaken to explore their operation and, to some degree, assess their performance based on feedback from their local communities as well as their own partnership members. Furthermore, the fusion of community safety and crime mapping has previously gone unexamined in Northern Ireland; most available research is almost entirely focused on how law enforcement agencies use crime mapping internally. The potential for communities to use crime mapping to help improve community safety processes has not yet been sufficiently explored, a gap in knowledge this research aims to fill. This study utilised a qualitative, case study approach to examine how five council areas in NI carry out community safety. The exploratory sequential design called for three phases to be carried out in order to fulfil research aims and objectives. Phase 1 involved making first contact with PCSP Managers throughout Northern Ireland which determined the areas chosen as case studies and all other pre-fieldwork, desk-based research. As a result, five out of twenty-six council areas and their respective PCSPs were used as case studies to explore and examine the potential use of crime mapping therein. Phase 2 of the research included carrying out interviews to obtain in-depth information from people who worked within the policing and community safety fields. This phase was used to draw out the formal views of organisations with regard to community safety initiatives. This process aimed to reveal 'what should be happening' and gave an idea of how local community members were supposed to experience community safety. This phase uncovered most of the new knowledge regarding the operation of PCSPs in Northern Ireland. The 'official' view of the role of PCSPs and the reasons why they used, occasionally used or did not use crime mapping were sought during this process. PSNI Area Commanders and PCSP Managers for each of the five areas were interviewed face-to-face, as well as other partnership members. During Phase 3, focus groups were carried out with residents living within each case study area. The schedule of the focus groups was developed using the findings from Phase 2. Phase 3 uncovered the feelings and attitudes of residents regarding their local PCSP, policing team and crime mapping tools currently in use in Northern Ireland. This phase allowed the researcher to contrast the delivery of initiatives community safety workers reported to perform during Phase 2 with how residents actually experienced those initiatives. While there is a national crime map available online (www.Police.UK)' not all PCSPs make use of it. A mapping tool, dubbed 'information hub', developed by the Newry and Mourne case (available at is used exclusively within that area and the extent of crime mapping usage in this area makes up the majority of usage in Northern Ireland. This research examined the use of this tool and potential use of similar tools in other council areas within Northern Ireland. This thesis contains a vast amount of new information relating to the operation of PCSPs, including a number of issues that may have prevented partnerships from fulfilling their potential, reported by not just residents, but members within those partnerships. This study found that for PCSPs, both internal (closed partnership meetings) and external (public meetings) processes could potentially benefit from using crime mapping tools such as the Police.UK map or an information hub, such as that developed for the Newry and Mourne council area. Internally, using mapping tools have the potential of streamlining processes involved in improving community safety carried out by PCSPs within Northern Ireland. Externally, residents reported, to the contrary of speculation by many PCSP members, they would prefer to see the Police.UK crime map incorporated into public PCSP meetings.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available