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At the beginning of this reflective work, it would be pertinent to discuss theory related to reflection and to discuss how this theory has guided the reflective process involved in this work. Theory of reflection is based on reflection and reflection in action. Reflection is useful for making sense of situations from a new perspective and it also is useful for correction of overlearning (Schön, 2017). A reflection in action is used generally by professionals who are in the position to understand the application of the theory and can conduct some experimentation so as to understand the applicability of his acquired knowledge (Schön, 2017). Learner reflection is a part of learning and can be used by students from different disciplines (Landis, Scott, & Kahn, 2015). Both students and teachers are part of the reflection process and reflection can help students and teachers reflect on their own pedagogy and understanding of the subject as well as approaches to understanding it by the students (Landis, Scott, & Kahn, 2015). Literature suggests that written reflections of students can be useful for disclosing their activities in the process of study and research and also for providing deeper understanding of the study area (Bubnys, 2019). Research also suggests that self-reflection provides students with deeper perception of themselves, their personal strengths and limitations which can then be used to enable them to identify sources and means for addressing professional activity problems (Bubnys, 2019).
Based on the understanding that this is a process of self reflection and writing on how the different components of the course were approached and how the research process was carried out, this reflection essay provides a summary of the experience of the study during the course work and the summary of the research work over the course of the different weeks in the study. As part of the reflection work, this essay also relates how certain preconceived ideas, values, and notions were challenged or changed over the course of the study for this course (Schön, 2017).
To start that the beginning, in the first week of the course, the study started with the idea of community. In the first week of the study, I took some time to understand the subject matter and how the course would be structured. It is only in the second week of the course, that the more productive and constructive study for the course was first undertaken. In the second week, the research work also started in earnest with the beginning of the study on community engagement. We were learning about why community engagement matters in this week. Pertaining to my own research, it can be said that the core issue of community or neighbourhood policing can be traced back to the second week of the course and even though at this point I had not identified the topic of research, the topic. This was as important aspect of what we are studying at this point in the course and also pertained directly to what I am interested in the context of research. Neighbourhood policing, which was a topic that was covered at this point, is directly the subject matter of my research through the course for the final essay. In the third week, I was able to tie this up to the topic of why does community engagement matter. Although, the examples that we took up in this week were on the health perspective, I found the idea of neighbourhood policing to be very closely interlinked with the notion of community engagement. The reason for this is that in the past few years, especially because of the calls for the need to ensure more community engagement and the BLM movement more recently, there is now a great interest in my mind for the ways in which neighbourhood policing can be useful for increasing community engagement. In the fourth week, there was a greater engagement with the Scarman Report, which I thought was one of the most important events in the context of relations between the police and the communities. The critical engagement with the Scarman Report at this point was important for making me understand why the idea of police and community relations goes back many years and there has been a growing concern over time regarding the relationships between the police and the communities. At the same time, the concept of community partnerships was more relevant to understanding how neighbourhood policing can be an important example of such partnerships.
The research for neighbourhood policing became more intense in the fifth week with an introduction to the Kortext’s book, Neighbourhood Policing...... The Rise and Fall of a Policing Model. Also, some focus on how other countries, particularly the United States, have responded challenges regarding relationships between the police and the communities. The next few weeks continued to give me more perspective about varied issues that are important to understanding the nature of policing communities. This included the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011. Why I thought this development of the law was important was because now there will be elected Police and Crime Commissioners.
In the tenth week, the focus shifted once more to the concept of community partnerships. The news stories about cases of Fiona Pilkington, Gary Newlove, and David Askew in the next two weeks were also insightful for helping me understand some of the recent events that have brought more attention to the reforms that are needed. What were more instrumental in making me shift my focus back to the need for improvement in relations of police and communities, was the case of Stephen Lawrence and the resultant McPherson Report and its key recommendations.
One of the most obvious and key issues that I have thought about because of its representation in the society, is the powers of stop and search that the police have. The reason why these powers of the police call attention is because these powers are exercised within the communities and usually are the medium to the first interactions between members of the communities and the police forces. The course work made me confront the more uncomfortable aspects of the exercise of stop and search powers of the police, including claims, news reports, and research studies on racism and its effect on the way in which the police exercised these powers.
The issues of diversity in the communities and how it impacts the relations between the police and the communities, as well as the community tensions and how policing is impacted by the same were also important points of reference for the research in the weeks between 18 and 21. In week 22, the important issue of evidence based policing became quite central to the research work I was carrying out on the point of present and future challenges for the police forces. Evidence based practice (Hunter, May, & Hough, 2019). Evidence based approach is an empirical approach which is applied in various professional fields and can also be involved in the policing functions (Hunter, May, & Hough, 2019).
Reflecting on the process of the research involved in the course as well as the study of different concepts involved in this course, and using this reflection to understand my own approach to the study as well as the ways in which the different readings have challenged my existing notions and even changed some of these notions, I can say that there are some ways in which I was seriously challenged. One of the most important aspect of this was the preconceived notion that I had that there is little or no emphasis on reform in the police forces with regard to how they exercise their powers within communities, especially within the Black communities. However, many resources that I have now referred to for the research, have made me realise that in fact there are many areas under which reforms have been undertaken for the police forces and that many of these reforms are aimed at improving the relations between the police and the communities.
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