Good Example Of Challenges Faced Critical Thinking

Type of paper: Critical Thinking

Topic: Crime, Police, Teenagers, Youth, People, Social Issues, Community, Ireland

Pages: 10

Words: 2750

Published: 2020/11/30

Explain and Critically Discuss the Challenges Involved in the Relationship between Young People and the Police

Explain and Critically Discuss the Challenges Involved in the Relationship between Young People and the Police


Lives of young individuals are mostly passion driven and based on the ideals of freedom. These passion and freedom driven activities are very likely to turn criminal too (Radford, Hamilton & Jarman 2005). However, to keep these passions and freedom crime free and to protect the society, police’s is also very important and crucial. An adult may understand that police’s tough attitude is to control the society against crimes. Similarly, a well-educated top ranked police officer may also understand the psyche of teenagers and devise plans to prevent them from going towards crimes. However, the problem generally in societies is that neither the teenagers are so calm to digest police’s aggressive behavior nor are the police lower rank officers learned enough to understand the psychology of the young ones of the society and deal with them accordingly. Thus, such lack of understanding from the both the parties lead to negative perceptions and attitudes against each other which often turns out to be very dangerous too.
When such is the apparent nature of the relationship between two groups, it becomes very important that before devising a solution, the nature of dispute, the challenges as well as the opportunities are well understood. Therefore, in this paper, the relationship, challenges and opportunities in the relationship between young people and police is analyzed. It is noted that social background and communal or peer affiliations matter quite significantly in the case of young people’s attitudes while police training and capability to deal with problems, minor or major, is a crucial factor in defining their attitudes. Ultimately, it is the attitudes of both the parties that put different challenges that are discussed and evaluated in the paper.
Northern Ireland is taken as a case study where studies have reported significant challenges and threats in young people’s interaction with the police force. However, significant proportion of the challenges has been dealt with too. Therefore, Northern Ireland gives a very clear picture of what the metaphysical problem appears to be and how should it be dealt with in preventing as well as controlling the crime. Conflicts in Northern Ireland were quite serious, however, due to lack of research, they were not understood properly. The first study was published in 1991. However, from then onwards number of researches started to come up and research oriented decision making started (Ellison 2001). It presents lessons for police development and uplifting their standards as an important and valued institution of the society rather than becoming a development, mental and material, impeder (Ellison 2001).
It is noted that social economic backgrounds of young ones are the root causes of the challenges and they lead to such nurturing where perceptions of police are bad so they are always negative towards the police. However, what makes it even difficult is the negative attitudes and strategies of police. Thus, the reforms primarily included a more positive interaction and trust gaining effort which has brought some results but there is still room for more improvement in Northern Ireland young people and police’s matters.

Root Causes and Challenges Leading to Poor Relationship between Young People and Police
For understanding the challenges and devising a solution to them, it is important that one understands the roots of the challenges. The remote nature of the relationship between young people and police is primarily because of the psyche of the two parties which is developed over the course of time because of their social, political, education, economic and community backgrounds. Byrne and Jarman (2011) discuss that the economic condition of a family defines what sort of neighborhood they would have and that tells the story of peer group, communal background and other social and education related set up and its influence on the nurturing of the child. Based on such nurturing the neighborhood where police violence has been part of the history, where gangs affiliation is common and so on, puts a negative image of police in the young people’s minds. Thus, with that mindset, their interaction with police is mostly troublesome and worrisome.
Empirical studies from Northern Ireland affirm that particular geographical location, communal background and even gender led to significantly grave relations with the police. That describes the root causes of the disturbed relation between young people and police in various places all over the world. Byrne et al. (2005) observe that in Northern Ireland, the interaction of young people from inner cities, especially places experiencing frequent confrontation with police and some degree of violence too make young ones of the society hold negative and even aggressive views against the police. Furthermore, Hamilton et al. (2003) noted that street-level interaction with the police is more likely to bring negativity in the interaction between the two parties. More importantly, he finds that people dwelling in urban areas tend to have more negative views than the ones from rural areas primarily because of the lesser degree of street-interaction.
Similarly, poor economic background of the community is also found to be correlated to negative relations between young members of the community and the police (Byrne and Jarman 2011). This is primarily understood through the fact that poor economic backgrounds of a community lead to the growth of such germs that give birth to crimes. And since no significant measures are taken for effective crime prevention, it grows and later when violence is used to curb it, it leads to hatred in young people against the police (Worrall 2014).
Although, Graham and Bowling (1995) argued for no significant relationship between social class and criminal behavior, however, later studies found that social class does correlate to offensive attitude though different in case of different crimes. For instance, Ellison (2001) argues that people from low social classes were involved in written graffiti (62.7%), physical fight (46.8%) and stealing 42.3%) while high class individuals were although slightly low on these crimes, though still significant, but would also be at higher level in other crimes like travelling in bus/train without ticket (35.7%). However, as far as ethnic and religious background of communities is concerned, which was believed to be another factor of negative perceptions about police in the past (Topping 2009) is found to be insignificant in recent studies (McAlister et al. 2009). But as far as gender is concerned, even though there is not much difference in the level of violence from police that men and women encounter (Jarman 2005), still, studies from Northern Ireland show that men experienced more contact with police and tended to have more negative perception about police than women (Roche 2005). But women being more sensitive reported more negative and harassing attitudes of police especially in their language than men (Roche 2005).
Therefore, one may conclude at this point that the root causes of poor relationship between young individuals and police is in the social and economic backgrounds. Thus, the challenges arising from that are also quite deep and grave. The negative perceptions about each other in young people and police are primarily because of the environment they are in. It has the elements and germs of crime in it which makes police target the young ones. Similarly, the police’s negative attitude also makes young ones furious. In the next section we discuss challenges related to the negative policing especially in Northern Ireland.

Poor Police Training and Negative Experiences of Young People Leading to Bad Perception about Police

Negative police attitudes are a significant problem all over the world. In particular, young people experience more negativity or are found to be more sensitive towards police’s attitudes. Thomassen (2002) notes about people reporting under age 30 is the largest group of individuals all over the world in reporting against the negative, discriminating, biased or targeting attitudes of police. As an example, in England, 49% of the reports against police attitude come from individuals less than 30 years old (Maguire and Corbett 1991). Similarly, in our case, Northern Ireland, the situation is even worse. The Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland (PONI) report show that 34% of the reports against police attitude came from people under age 24 out of which 82% were between 16 and 20 years of age (Radford, Hamilton and Jarman 2005).
Negative Policing is one of the major causes that leads to bad perceptions. Young people’s experiences with the police, if bad for once, leave a lifetime mark in their minds that police is biased, violent and useless. Lloyd (2009) notes that in Northern Ireland some young individuals reported that in crime suspected or risk based places, police targets the young ones more and takes a biased, offensive, aggressive and even harassing towards them for the mere reason that they are young so they might be the bad guys. Cohen (2002) argue that even though some young ones are criminals, but it leads police to look at every young individual suspiciously. Radford, Hamilton & Jarman (2005) further argue that even though in every age group some individuals are involved in criminal activities, but in case of teenagers it gets problematic because police start doubting the innocence of each teenager. McAra and McVie (2005) further noted that police targets particular groups of young people based on their appearance, style and social backgrounds. Such experiences lead to a negative perception about police.
Negative policing could be tolerated, but it gets worse once it turns violent. McAlister et al. (2009) and Byrne and Jarman (2011) point out to the fact that it has been reported by many young ones that even a small or negligible negative activity by the young ones is often dealt by police with the use of force and violence. This leads to a feeling of being suppressed so much so that some individuals even reported feeling of being spied on and freedom being sacked (Hansson 2005). However, Ellison (2001) notes in his survey that many young people have a very normative view, in a sense that it is fine and should be permissible, of many crimes. For example, about 50% thought it was not serious offense to take cannabis. However, what is interesting is that about 62% of the cannabis users were found involved in other crimes that were deemed quite serious by the respondents (Ellison 2001). Thus, police might be trying to prevent a crime, however, again, their approach might be so offensive that it worsens the situation.
Part of the problem is also in police not being capable of understanding the roots of the problem and dealing with them adequately. It has also been experienced and reported by some young individuals, noted in the report of Byrne et al. (2005). They reported that police fails to understand their social, communal setup and the problems they face. That is why, the only solution that police often resides to is the use of force. But that only exacerbates the situation (Byrne et al. 2005).
But what is important here is to note that the study of Hamilton et al. (2003) found out that people in Northern Ireland understood the importance and crucial nature of the role that police has to play. So, their issue was not with the police itself, but the strategies that it uses to deal with criminal activities or actors in the society. They also believed in community playing a role along with the police for curbing crime. However, the problem noted here was that police was not willing to recognize that role and would neither understand their concerns adequately, which would only lead to more problems rather than an end to current ones (Byrne and Jarman 2011; Byrne et al. 2005).
Thus, although normative crime perceptions is a significant problem with young ones in many areas, however, police training is what makes the situation even worse. The police dealing with every matter with force is not the answer. Their negativity, biasedness and targeting of young people puts a serious challenge in bettering their relations with young peple as well as eliminating crime. So, with that in mind, in the next section, the reforms as recommendations are analyzed.

Recommendations for Coping with the Challenges

Worrall (2014) discusses the American justice system in detail and points out two important factors that for creating a crime-free zone. These are taking early notice and measures as that cost and harm less and creating a community based justice system by which the author means that community needs to be involved crime prevention and crime controlling activities. Worrall (2014) also notices that for these two factors to become a reality, community’s trust on police is vital and people must have a feeling of security, not insecurity and threatened, to interact, communicate and report a suspicious activity to the police.
Community’s involvement is important not only in controlling crime but also in uplifting police’s standards by making them accountable (Plant and Scott 2009). For instance, Neighborhood Watch Program is found useful in America in involving community in crime controlling (Sherman and Eck 2002). This also leads to a more understanding and equal level interaction between police and community members which decreases trust deficit between the two parties (Murray 2005). Similarly, in programs like Big Brother/Big Sister in which young people are associated with an adult mentor for reducing their delinquent behaviors, community’s role has been found quite useful and important (Tierney et al. 1995). This is one such section where police’s direct involvement has found to be useless. But through community, juvenile delinquency could significantly be reduced down in any area (Tierney et al. 1995; Gottfredson et al. 2004).
Reforms brought in Northern Ireland by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) were primarily based on similar understanding and agenda. Hamilton, Radford and Jarman (2004) and Radford, Hamilton and Jarman (2005) take an in depth analysis of the reforms brought in Northern Ireland policing. They notice that primarily the reform was to make police accountable to the community at all different levels regarding its attitudes, strategies and performances. For that matter, from police training to other important levels, PSNI has tried to induce an attitude of responsibility and accountability. Not only it has tried to gain the trust of community’s people, but also tried to include the community more in its strategies against criminals.
Thus, Radford, Hamilton and Jarman (2005) also note the relationship between young people and police after all these reforms. They noted that young people’s trust on police and especially PSNI had certainly raised and majority of the respondents rated PSNI as honest, trustworthy and helpful. However, many respondents also reported against that. So, the conclusion of Radford, Hamilton and Jarman (2005) was that there has been a significant improvement in the relationship between young people and police. However, more reforms are required as the relation could be further improved too. The misbehavior reporting that was as high as 70% had gone down to 21%. Relatively it is an improvement however, in absolute terms it is still more than one in five young individuals reporting misbehavior of police officers (Radford, Hamilton and Jarman 2005).
Similarly, in case of the perceptions of biasness, after the reforms the study noted that a significant number of young ones had started believing that that PONI and PSNI are impartial and they treat them with equally with respect as citizens. The impartiality factor reported that about 21% individuals were strongly of the view that PONI was impartial (Radford, Hamilton and Jarman 2005). This was also an achievement in relative terms, but required much more to be an absolute standard achievement.
What is important to note here is that Byrne and Jarman (2011), study conducted about six years after Radford, Hamilton and Jarman (2005), noted further improvements in the relationship. So, from that it could be concluded that the reforms brought by PSNI were focused in the right direction and slow and steady progress, it went on to positively impact and resolve the conflicts in the relationship between young individuals and police.


It has been discussed in detail that young people and police are two such poles of the society which if handled with care could play a very constructive role in the society, but if mismanaged, could even destroy the society. Importantly, in the interaction between the two parties, they become like two such poles which repel each other. Both show suspicious and negative attitude towards the other. The case of Northern Ireland is a very clear example of what sort of feelings young men and women carried against the police and what sort of attitudes police showed towards them.
The nature of the conflict has been argued and understood from the end of each party and it could be concluded that the causes of the challenges are hidden in the social and economic backgrounds and trainings of the police force while the challenges faced are the normative attitudes of young ones towards criminal behavior and negative policing especially targeting young people and even using violence against them.
As part of the reform the broader study of Worall (2014) was discussed and in the light of that the reforms in Northern Ireland were analyzed which were primarily about taking a crime prevention approach rather than crime controlling and more importantly including community more in the activity to gain their trust and make them feel secure and comfortable around the police (Byrne and Jarman 2011; Radford, Hamilton and Jarman 2005; Hamilton, Radford and Jarman 2004). With such strategy significant improvements have been noticed and thus, that case could be taken as a sample and applied elsewhere where similar challenges in the relationship between young individuals and police are encountered.


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