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FOCUS GROUPS TO DECIDE POLICE PRIORITIES

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Ministers are backing plans to bring the so-called Chicago policing model to Britain, reported The Sunday Times (p1...
Ministers are backing plans to bring the so-called Chicago policing model to Britain, reported The Sunday Times (p15). The scheme involves police using focus groups and neighbourhood opinion polls to decide which crimes to make a priority.

The blueprint is based on a policing experiment in Chicago, historically one of America's most crime-ridden cities. The experiment has seen a big drop in crime and improved police-community relations since it was introduced a decade ago.

The scheme is being piloted in Guilford and Elmbridge in Surrey, and in Kensington and Chelsea, Enfield and Merton in London. Six more forces may adopt it later this year.

Gavin Stephens, the Surrey Police project director, said the force was using focus groups, telephone interviews and opinion surveys to discover what mattered most to the public and so help anxiety about crime. 'It's about sending a message that somebody is on the case and is going to take control,' he said.

The Home Office commented: 'Ministers recognise the importance of this project to deliver their antisocial behaviour agenda and to close the gap between government's success on reducing crime and public perception.'
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