Journal Article

Embracing Accountability: The Way Forward—Part One

Geoffrey Markham and Maurice Punch

in Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice

Volume 1, issue 3, pages 300-308
Published in print January 2007 | ISSN: 1752-4512
Published online September 2007 | e-ISSN: 1752-4520 | DOI:
Embracing Accountability: The Way Forward—Part One

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Policing is accountability: without it the police cannot function adequately in a democracy. During scandals, police have sometimes responded with defensiveness, cover-up, and resistance to oversight. This paper argues that the service should embrace accountability as a core institutional value. Two factors are crucial: operational accountability, on which everything rests, and a culture of accountability. The first part addresses the influences which brought accountability to the front: court cases, legislation, oversight, Home Office initiatives, and professional developments. These place accountability firmly in the centre of the policing agenda.

The second part, to be featured in Issue 4, focuses on operational accountability. The police organisation is a 24-hour emergency agency, and it is vital to have settled national procedures and competent leadership. The paper proposes the Gold, Silver and Bronze command model as standard. Then the service must train for leadership at all levels so that experienced and competent people are in charge. These people should be prepared to ‘carry’ accountability by drawing it upwards within the organisation espousing a culture of accountability. The ideal is a highly professional operation that confidently and proactively faces all forms of accountability with ‘we have the answers: do you have any questions?’

Journal Article.  3896 words. 

Subjects: Policing

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