Conservatism slows down innovation in the police

Publication date 11.6.2021 9.39
News item

The new publication by the Police University College examines innovativeness in the police. The topic is considered from the perspectives of the past, present and future.

The publication by the Police University College, “Innovation and Innovativeness in the Police & Policing ‒ Essays on History, Theory and Philosophy”, examines the police as an innovation, innovativeness in police education and preparedness training, and obstacles to innovation in the police. At the same time, a new and more critical approach to research is called for among researchers in the field. 

‒ Innovativeness may not be the first thing that comes to mind about the police and policing. Instead, the police are expected to act in formal ways, and uniformly due to legislation and the matters at hand, which is understood as an equitable approach. At the same time, the police are also required to have a service-minded, individual, appreciative and fair attitude towards the citizens. The police must therefore use innovation and good judgement in how to treat all citizens in the same way, however taking everyone’s individual characteristics into account, says Vesa Huotari, Senior Researcher. 

Innovation and innovativeness in the police can, however, be hampered by a variety of challenges, including a hierarchical and conservative organisation, work-related hazards and scepticism about anything new. Another key barrier is the increasing scarcity of resources, while services should be improved and efficiency increased. To this end, the police are seeking solutions in information technology and strengthening the role of analysed information in the planning and directing of police operations. The new publication expresses the hope that the next step will be to promote innovation in the police. 

‒ In research literature, innovativeness in the police often refers to police researchers in universities who propose new kinds of police strategies and approaches. It can also refer to new technical tools to make everyday policing easier. However, these interpretations do not include innovativeness within the police forces, says Huotari. 

‒ There is a wealth of human innovation capital and talent within the police forces, and these deserve more room than they get at present. The organisation should also make use of innovations and learn from them. Police education at Police University College level and stronger research and analysis activities within the police forces provide a supportive basis for these.