Since 1984 when John Avery became Police
Commissioner, the New South Wales Police Service has been in the process
of change. These changes have been a result of reforms in administration
policy and in policing methods, and have affected the focus of policing
as well as the way police services are delivered. The resolve of the Avery
years was too change the nature and efficiency of the police service by
introducing a new strategy known as community based policing. The aim
was to ‘focus on community sensitive responsive services as the keystone
of policing in the State’.
The issue of police credibility in New South Wales had been in question
for more than 20 years when Commissioner Avery sought to introduce a new
and unified approach to policing, as a community service. The objective
was to encourage a high standard of professionalism within the New South
Wales Police Service, and to see it become more proactive and preventive
in its service and approach to law enforcement. It was also hoped that
the implementation of these reforms would rid the organisation of corruption.
The high ideals of the Avery years brought hope and set policing in New
South Wales on a new course. These reforms are still being implemented
The New South Wales Police Service, like many other contemporary police
organisations in English speaking common law countries, is in need of
reform. However, reform everywhere has proved difficult. Some attempts
have been successful, but there is a common history of success coupled
with failure, and scandal followed by sensational headlines. Yet there
are people who continue to believe that reform is not only necessary but
is also achievable.
While social expectations have placed new demand upon policing, especially
in terms of becoming more sensitive and responsive to community needs,
many of the problems now evident in policing arise from the nature of
policing administration itself. Contemporary policing has evolved into
a military-bureaucratic system of command and control and while this model
has had its strengths in law enforcement, it has also produced many problems
by way of inflexibility and insensitivity to community needs.
A look at policing in many countries, including England
and the United States, reveals that quick-fix and short-term answers to
these problems are not good enough. Generally, current methods of reform
tend to not go far enough and often have only increased the problems of
top-heavy and costly administration. The Avery administration saw the
necessity for a radical rethink and redefinition of the nature and purpose
of policing so to incorporate crime-preventive measures along with law
enforcement and thereby refocus policing toward community need.
The policies of community based policing as introduced under the Avery
administration are widely accepted in international policing but, unfortunately,
have become too readily part of the rhetoric, rather than the common practice,
of policing. It may well be that community based policing has been absorbed
into the military-bureaucratic systems as another tactical device rather
than a strategy for an alternative approach. Yet the Avery years and those
that followed must be seen as a genuine attempt to bring a radical new
focus and implement a fundamental new strategy, in the form of community
based policing, to the New South Wales Police Service.
The reform process, however, is far from complete for the New South Wales
Police Service. New methods of reform, such as communication professionalism,
need to be considered to ensure the process of change does not slow down.
If implemented, this approach would affect the very nature of police administration
while maintaining a community service focus. It would revise the chain
of command system and draw upon the support services of general and specialist
practitioner groups, thereby broadening police resources.
The community based policing initiative was perhaps the first step toward
making policing relevant to contemporary social need and at the same time
a challenge to the established police culture which has become so problematic.
Continued reform is inevitable if, among other things, there is no argument
which supports the status quo.
A Strategic Plan
The introduction of community based policing was effectively a change
in strategy for the delivery of policing services in New South Wales.
It was a departure from the traditional definitions of policing and an
attempt to become more relevant to social change and community need. In
implementing the strategic plan the challenge was to introduce management
systems that could effectively serve the community based policing approach.
However, this new approach, positive as it was, did not seek to ignore
the problems of corruption that had become obvious in the early 1980s.
The overall administration strategy was threefold: ‘attack corruption
first, then build an accountable corruption resistant management team
and organisation, and focus on community-sensitive responsive services
as the keystones of policing in the State’. One of the aims of the strategy
was to incorporate management within its vision as much as community relations.
Peter Drucker, who introduced the modern version of strategic planning,
makes a distinction between forecasting and planning. In the context of
government bodies, he says, departments do not so much need efficiency
– in terms of confining costs – but effectiveness. In this regard the
‘force’ model, with its emphasis on effectiveness, had something to bring
to the ‘service’ model. Drucker says: ‘The skill we need is not long-range
planning. It is … strategic planning.’ This was true for the New South
Wales Police Service: if a new plan and direction was to be implemented
it would have to be based on a new strategy.
In adopting a strategic approach, it was hoped that community based policing
would penetrate every other aspect of the organisation and give a new
cohesion and meaning to police work. The objective was for the strategy
to carry the New South Wales Police Service into the future as it continued
to reassess its relationship with the community. Alfred Chandler, in his
work on goal formation, coined the phrase ‘strategy determines structures’,
and it was believed that the right strategy was the key to fundamental
change. The strategic plan was to become the controlling factor in the
change process and it was hoped that ‘the application of the strategic
management paradigm [would provide] a framework for developing abilities
to anticipate and cope with change’. It was also to be a guide to change;
to allow a decentralisation of tasks and authority; and to encourage regional
autonomy as much as possible.
The strength of the strategic plan was in its positive approach to difficulties
and social demands. Furthermore it gave the Service a chance to manage
is own destiny.
‘Strategic planning is necessary precisely because we cannot forecast’,
says Drucker . The New South Wales Police Service’s strategic plan did
not seek to predict future, nor did it seek to control the future, butt
the plan was devised to give the Service a means to marshal and organise
itself into achieving a goal in the future. Taking control is the key
concept of strategic planning, and in this sense the Service sought to
become proactive rather than reactive. In parallel to asking ‘what is
our business?’ the organisation also asked ‘where are we going?’
Strategic planning does not eliminate crisis or, indeed, the almost continual
need to react and respond to new demands for attention and service, but
it gives a reason for responding, a process for responding, a framework
and a means to determine the best response. This is not to say that strategic
planning eliminates risk. Quite the contrary; it involves taking risks
in decision-making. Strategic planning is the continuous process of marshalling
information and utilising feedback for the purpose of making risky, but
systematic, decisions. For the New South Wales Police Service, the risk
were in areas such as internal acceptance of the changes in policy, the
effectiveness of the management system to implement the community based
policing strategy, and how police related to the community.
Any organisational culture, with its entrenched value and traditions,
tends to stand in the way of real and substantial change. The New South
Wales Police Service has made remarkable effort to bring a change to its
own internal culture as well as to redefine itself in the community. However,
the change remains incomplete. The strategy continues to unfolds as it
affects the culture and the people that make up the organisation, as well
as the nature of police service delivery.
Community Based Policing
The Lusher Inquiry’s 1981 Report opened the way for the reform of policing
in New South Wales. The appointment of John Avery as Police Commissioner
made that reform possible. Avery acknowledged the problems of corruption
and a cumbersome military-bureaucratic system and brought to the position
a new philosophy of policing focused on community service. In his book,
Police, Force or Service?, Avery proposed that policing needed to move
toward a model of community involvement and a sensitivity to community
problems. Essentially, community based policing was introduced to the
New South Wales Police Service as a change in the focus of policing
and as a new agenda for police operations.
While community based policing was a new direction for the New South
Wales Police Service, it was also a reassessment of the nature of police
work and a realisation that policing was always intended to be a community
service. Sir Robert Peel, who supervised the establishment of the Police
Force in England in 1829, believed that police and the community could
… police are the public and the public are the police; the police being
only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention
to duties which are incumbent on every citizen, in the interest of community
welfare and existence.
Historically, contemporary policing has developed upon a broad foundation
that always included the concept of community service. Reiner suggests
that: ‘The function of policing is essentially to regulate and protect
the social order, using legitimate force if necessary’. Police have
always had the dual role of peace-keepers and law enforcers, and the
emphasis on community based policing has been an attempt to refocus
policing toward the welfare of the community.
By 1988, the policy for a unified strategy for the Force and the Department
was in place. The objectives as stated in the New South Wales Police
Service Corporate Plan for that year were:
To make the New South Wales Police Service the best in the world: to
rid the organisation of the dark shadow of corruption; to encourage
a high degree of professionalism; and to introduce community based policing
as the principle operational strategy.
In reclaiming the tradition of public service, community based policing
aimed to have police work in cooperation with the community to create
a safer social environment and reduce violence, crime and fear. Community
based policing and the values behind it began to permeate every aspect
of the New South Wales Police Service. The organisation was restructured,
with the centralised power base shifting to a more local, community
based system, causing a rural-urban mix in each new region, and sworn
and unsworn police were no longer segregated, and were all put under
the command of the Commissioner. The decentralisation process created
local regional autonomy and ensured that each of the state’s 175 patrols
were responsible for the delivery of the whole range of police services.
In addition, promotion by merit was introduced and recruitment and training
were given more emphasis to attain higher standards of professionalism.
Operationally, community based policing meant that the New South Wales
Police Service attempted to respond to a changing society by changing
the nature of policing. ‘Traditional’ concepts of policing as command
and control-oriented had been found inappropriate because they failed
to reduce crime and the fear of crime. The Police Service Act 1990 gave
statutory endorsement to the system of community based policing:
6.1 The mission of the Police Service is to have the police and the
community working together to establish a safer environment by reducing
violence, crime and fear.
6.3 In this section ‘police services’ includes:
(a) services by way of prevention and detection of crime; and
(b) the protection of persons from injury or death, and property from
damage, whether arising from criminal acts or in any other way; and
(c) the provision of essential services in emergencies; and
(d) any other service prescribed by the regulations.
While still involving police in law enforcement, s 6.3 of the Act broadens
the role of police to include a range of regulatory and community service
The Act allows for the context of policing to change, and its broader
definition of policing meant that a move away from the narrower military-bureaucratic
model was possible. Policing had become involved in a ‘rethink’ of its
operations and the traditional model of a military-bureaucratic system,
as conceptualised in the ‘thin blue line’ model, can be contrasted with
the alternative operational view of the community based policing:
Thin blue line Community based policing
Crime fighter Peacekeeper
Law enforcement Service and law enforcement
Rapid response Differential response
Retrospective investigation Case screen/Intelligence
Mobile patrol Beat and mobile patrol
Time-responsive Geographical responsibility
Ranks Multifaceted positions
Assessment through: Assessment through:
crime statistics quality of life
reduction of fear
Male dominated Open to both men and women
Efficiency oriented Effectiveness oriented
The new organisation was to be deregulated, equitable, flexible in
its work practices, multi-skilled, professional and more open to women
and other traditionally under-represented groups. It is probably true
to say there was a feminising of the previous masculine-mechanist dominated
approach, bringing a new balance to the New South Wales Police Service.
Community based policing is not a tactical device. It is a strategy
to that starts from the needs of the community and seeks to have police
engage in proactive and preventative measures that require officers
to become involved in solving the problems of communities of citizens.
‘In order to prevent crime, modern policing must be reorganised so that
thinking takes precedent over reaction.’ This approach has required
a change in the organisation to accommodate an operation which is more
supportive of the community and empowers police officers using their
initiative. Goldstein argues that police managers who are committed
to introducing this problem-orientated policing must be prepared to
be flexible in their management style and give greater freedom to their
The concept of community based policing is not new. It has been publicly
discussed for more than two decades. In so many ways, it is what police
should have been doing all along. Yet, continually, it has been shown
that the real problems in successfully implementing such a policy lie
with organisational structure and management style. Without a r-engineering
of the structure of the police organisation to produce both different
attitude and a different context for policing, community based policing
has come as far as it can. There needs to be congruence between the
desire for police to be available to the community in the problem-solving
process, and the management of police services to ensure that that is
possible. As Braiden suggests, people need to be moved into a ‘new organisational
context that imposes new roles, new responsibilities, and relationships
As a further step in the community based policing approach, communitarian
professionalism may well be the change in direction that is needed.
Communitarian professionalism seeks to provide professional police officers
to identified communities as facilitators, analysts and advisers in
the crime prevention and problem-solving process. While acknowledging
the authoritative and symbolic role of police, communitarian professionalism
seeks more effective and sustained ways to combat crime other than through
reactive mechanisms. However, such a change of context and the introduction
of communitarian professionalism would require a radical step by all
those who govern the nature of policing in New South Wales.
The New South Wales Police Service is still involved in the process
of change as the community based policing strategy continues to unfold.
The questions that now concern the Service involve the ability of people
within the police system to responsibly allow the changes to take place.
Is Change Possible?
To initiate change to a policing service is a formidable challenge.
Policing is an inherently conservative institution and like other government
organisations, has its own culture arising from attitudes and patterns
of behaviour that make change difficult. Because of the inherent resistance
to change, endless red-tape and the sheer size government bureaucracies
everywhere, changing public sector service institution has become a
study and a challenge in itself. Often the private sector is compared
unfavourably with the public sector when the subject of change inertia
is discussed. In terms of public sector non-performance, the problem
isn’t so much that government bodies aren’t businesslike, or that they
need better people, but that ‘the objectives of service, institutions
are “intangible” and so are their results’, according to Drucker.
To seek to clarify the functions and tasks of a government organisation
is always controversial because of a confusion of goals. As Bracey suggests,
‘government organisations are often faced with goals that are vague,
abstract and often in conflict with each other, or whose ability to
deliver their product is impacted by factors over which the organisation
has no control’. In a budget-driven institution, efficiency is not always
a virtue; goals remain unclear, numerous and unattained; and the results
remain unmeasurable. In their own way, bureaucracies aim to provide
comprehensive and neutral service to the community, but this in itself
can become a problem as the community want involvement and resolution
of their problems, rather than neutrality.
For any bureaucracy, the process is often more important than the outcome
and to large extent, this explains why the New South Wales Police Force
and Department were destined to conflict with each other during unification,
as their desired work outcomes were incongruent. While the Department
was concerned mainly with due process, the Force was crisis-oriented,
always needing to react and ‘take control’ or ‘put out fires’. Without
a new strategy that focused the Service in a new direction, long-term
goals were unattainable. Planning, at best, was little more than long-term
forecasting and goals were crowded out by the endless lists of objectives
which remained intangible and unrealised.
In a sense, policing has been shaped by its own history. The philosophy
of law enforcement and the maintenance of social order that developed
in colonial times has evolved into the self-definition of the policing
function today. Like other government services, as the size of the task
grew, so did the bureaucracy and management structure that attended
to it. History and public service support have produced the military-bureaucratic
model that is now evident. In Australia, as is evident in other democratic
countries, police agencies have had to cope with problems of public
accountability and operational autonomy. The police bureaucracy has
responded by increasing layers of regulation and enforcing firmer procedural
discipline in its management systems. This, however, has not proved
to be a formula for efficiency, and neither has it necessarily required
accountability. According to Bayley, ‘the traditional discipline-centred
management system, given the higher discretionary nature of police work,
is a fig leaf that not only conceals but poisons’.
Changes in policing practice and culture have evolved since colonisation
and different generational expectations, economic determinants and even
internal discontent have had an influence on that evolution. By the
late 1970s, however, policing’s evolutionary process had not kept pace
with social demand, and the system was increasingly seen as inefficient.
To address the inherent problems of structure and management within
the New South Wales Police Service, a reformed approach needed to also
consider the organisation’s culture and involve the people of the organisation
in the change process if it was to be successful.
In the past decade, movements toward change in the New South Wales Police
Service have met with resistance. Those people with a vested interest
in maintaining the culture, for a variety of reasons, have resisted
change and weakened the initiative. Such resistance was made easier
because of the two additional factors of needing to fulfil various political
agendas under changing governments and the almost continued redeployment
of staff. Change takes time but in a context of such dissident and divergent
forces, it also requires tenacity and continuity.
In order for change to occur the driving force must be stronger than
the resisting forces. Consequently, there needs to be a focus and an
impetus to change. The Fitzgerald Inquiry in Queensland provides an
example of the impetus to change. In this situation members of the community,
and a number of courageous police officers, exposed the level of police
corruption in the Queensland Police Service and demanded change. In
New South Wales a similar situation occurred in the early 1980s, commencing
with the Lusher Inquiry and continuing with Commissioner Avery’s amalgamation
of the New South Wales Police Department and Force. What, perhaps, distinguished
this program for change from other attempts at reformation was that
its focus was not on just changing tactics or structures, but on changing
the fundamental strategy. Of course, structures and management systems
also changed but the focus for change lay with designing a strategy
that would create a community based policing service.
While the New South Wales Police Service is changing its methods and
management, essentially its problem has been to change its organisational
culture. In bringing the two conflicting areas of Department and Force
together, the new Service faced the challenge of developing an appropriate
culture which is able to respond to social need and expectation.
Fundamental to a change in culture is a change in the beliefs and values
that underlie that culture. In order to change, the New South Wales
Police Service had to look at what police believe most about society,
crime and themselves. Police came to see that their values were the
glue that held the organisation together. Accordingly, the community
based policing strategy was an attempt to challenge traditional values
and to try to develop a new culture.
||New South Wales Police Service, New South Wales
Police Service: 1984-88, New South Wales Government Printer, Sydney,
1988, p 6.
||D Moore, ‘Police Accountability: To whom and for what?’ in Keeping
the Peace: Police Accountability and Oversight (D Moore and R Wettenhall,
eds), Royal Institute of Public Administration Australia,
University of Canberra, Canberra, 1994.
||S P Robins, Organisational Behaviour, Prentice Hall, New Jersey, 1993,
||P Drucker, Management, Mackays, London, 1973, p 115
||W Lusher, Report of the Commission to Inquire into the New South Wals
Police Administration, New South Wales Government Printer, Sydney,
||New South Wales Police Department, Annual Report: 1986-87, p 6.
||J Avery, Police, Force or Service?, Butterworths, Sydney, 1981.
|| Aptech Australia, Culural Survey Report for the New South Wales Police
Service, Sydney, 1994, p 3.
||M Safe and M Whittaker, ‘The End of Mystique’, The Australian Magazine,
2 September 1995.
|| M Safe and M Whittaker, note 9 above, p 24
||New South Wales Police Service, note 1 above
||New South Wales Police Service, note 1 above
||New South Wales Police Service, note 1 above.
||Aptech Australia, note 8 above.
||New South Wales Police Service, note 1 above
||P Drucker, note 4 above, p 158.
|| P Drucker, note 4 above, p 116.
|| J Montanari, G A Daneke and J S Bracher, ‘Strategic Management for the
Political Sector: Lessons from the evolution of private sector planning’
in Handbook on Strategic Management (J Robin, GJ Miller and W B Hildreth,
eds), Marcel Dekker, New York, 1989, p 305.
||P Drucker, note 4 above, p 118.
|| P Drucker, note 4 above; W H Eldridge, ‘Where Angels Fear to Tread:
A Practitioner’s Observations and Solutions on Introducing Strategic Management
to a Government Culture’ in Handbook on Strategic Management (J Robin,
G J Miller and W B Hildreth, eds), Marcel Dekker, New York, 1989
||P Drucker, note 4 above, p 133.
|| D Bracey, personal notes, Police Efficiency and Effectiveness Seminar,
Australian Institute of Criminology, Canberra, 1988.
|| M Young, In the Sticks: Cultural Identity in a Rural Police Force,
Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1993, p 12.
||T Jefferson and R Grimshaw, Controlling the Constable: Police accountability
in England and Wales, Frederick Muller/Cobden Trust, London, 1984.
||D Bayle, Police for the Future, Oxford University Press, Oxford,
1994, p 65.
||S P Robbins, note 3 above.
||W Lusher, note 5 above.
|| A Williams, Changing Culture: New Organizational Approaches,
Institute of Personnel Management, London, 1989, p 88.
||A Williams, note 29 above, p 11
||T Parsons, The Social System, Free Press, Glencoe, 1951
||G. Kelling and M Moore, The Evolving Strategy of Policing, Harvard
University Perspectives on Policing No 4, National Institute of Justice,
US Department of Justice and the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and
Management, 1988, p 2.
||G Kelling and M Moore, note 32 above, p 5.
||K Bryett, Un-peeling Tradition: Contemporary Policing, Macmillan,
Melbourne, 1994, p 70.
|| A Cohen, A Lindesmith and K Schuessler, The Sutherland Papers, Indiana
University Press, Bloomington, 1956, p 2.
||M Finnane, Police and Government: Histories of policing in Australia,
Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1994, p 129.
|| J Chan, Policing in a Multicultural Society: Final Report to the
New South Wales Police Service, Sydney, 1992.
||T Parsons, note 31 above, pp 21-7
||D Bayle, note 26 above, p 158.
||See W Lusher, note 5 above.
||J Avery, note 7 above.
|| L E Poulton, ‘Justice in a Multicultural Society – a Police Point
of View’ in Police Forces in History (J L Moore, ed), Sage, Los Angeles,
1975, p 7.
||R Reiner, ‘Policing Postmodern Society’, Modern Law Review, Vol
55, No 6, 1992
||New South Wales Police Service, note 1 above, p 3.
||New South Wales Police Service, note 1 above.
|| D Bayle, note 26 above, p 157.
||H Goldstein, Problem-Oriented Policing, Temple University Press,
|| C Braiden, ‘Enriching Traditional Roles’ in Police Management: Perspectives
and Issues, (L Hoover, ed), Police Executive Research Forum, Sam Houston
State University, Texas, 1992, p 108.
||D Bayle, note 26 above.
||Aptech Australia, note 8 above, p 3.
|| The Hon T Wallace Opal, Closing the Gap: Policing and the Community,
Report of the Commission of Inquiry into Policing in British Colombia,
Victoria, British Colombia, 1994
||A Toffler and H Toffler, Creating a New Civilization, Turner,