New Models of Participation and Expertise in the United States and Europe
Edited by Thierry Delpeuch and Jacqueline E. Ross
Chapter 11: Governing the police by numbers: the French experience
Like many other public administrations, police organizations have always used figures designed to show the efficiency and effectiveness of their services (Wilson, 1963; Lopez, 2007). At all levels of police administration, the use of performance indicators is common currency, both internally (for personnel management) and for communication with external partners. But it is undeniable that numerical data has assumed a wider scope due to the extension of new management techniques within these organizations, as well as due to the budgetary constraints affecting all European countries in recent years. This article aims to question the effects of using these indicators, both inside police organizations and in their relations with the outside world. Our example is the French National Police, focusing on the last fifteen years (2000–2014). Within the French police, the extensive use of indicators arises from three interlaced dynamics. First, there is a structural dimension to the transformation of public organizations, with the diffusion of techniques from the private sector that supposedly allow the performance of public institutions to be measured, so as to make them more effective. This use of quantitative indicators to measure and steer police activity is directly linked to the rise of a new kind of public management (NPM) which in France (as elsewhere) has penetrated the police world (Jones and Newburn, 2009; Maillard, 2009). As in other public organizations, there must be a standard of performance that can be measured and corrected. The rule relating to financial laws, adopted in 2001 and implemented after 2006, perfectly expresses this dynamic of administrative restructuring, with the introduction of new tools (an annual performance plan, an annual performance report, etc.), to which public administrations must conform (Bezes, 2008).
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