The Do-It-Yourself Policing workshop organized by the MEDI@4SEC project in Berlin at January 10 was a huge success. For the first time, stakeholders from all over Europe engaged in an interactive dialogue on the future of DIY Policing, the opportunities and challenges for police organisations, and it’s ethical and legal implications. While experience still varies across Europe, all were convinced that it will change the future of policing.
Social media has enabled ordinary citizens to become modern-day Sherlock Holmes. It empowers citizens to perform activities that fall within the range of police work and the work of other organisations dealing with public security. The workshop heard how citizens can assist the police and go beyond. They report on crimes, investigate crimes, identify suspects, form vigilante groups, hunt paedo-criminals. And whilst this creates considerable benefits it also presents a series of challenges to law enforcement agencies.
The event discussed both the opportunities and challenges of DIY Policing and its relevance for public security today and in future. Participants including representatives of law enforcement agencies, the public, security planners and researchers throughout Europe gathered to exchange experiences and gain a deeper understanding of the opportunities and challenges of DIY Policing. The event was also followed by others not able to be present, followed the event on Twitter, and made our workshop trending topic in the Netherlands and Germany.
“DIY policing is a great challenge for the police that closely relates to the identity and culture of police work, especially as it also happens in the digital space where coverage by law enforcement agencies often is patchy or non-existent,” said Fraunhofer IAO researcher Sebastian Denef, who is responsible for the topic in the MEDI@4SEC project.
Wouter Joung, a workshop participant and a crisis management consultant for the Dutch Association of Mayors said:
“More than before, I realised that national cultures and the position of the police force within societies are important influencers on the way in which DIY lessons can be applied internationally.”
In identifying future solutions many participants recognized the power of social networks and crowdsourcing for improving intelligence and investigations. Others saw opportunities for “policing the police”: holding the police accountable and thereby eventually improve their legitimacy and quality of services. All participants were convinced that online DIY Policing will change the future of policing. One of the participants said
“Kodak was destroyed by Instagram. If police wants to survive DIY Policing they need to transform instead of asking the public to change”.
Further details of the event and its outputs can be found on the workshop page of this site.