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Do the police need defunding?

Thousands of demonstrators in the U.S., UK and around the world, have marched to protest against police brutality and racial inequality towards black people, after the killing of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer.

With campaigns continuing to receive mainstream media attention, some advocates have also been calling for funding to be redirected away from the police.

While "defunding the police" is not a new idea, the term has been used more frequently in recent news and among public interest.

The thought of defunding the police force might seem radical, but various groups have been preaching it for years, including Indigenous Australians.

What would a defunded police force look like?

Advocates are keen to rebuild communities with a new model of public safety that moves away from investing in an armed police force and actually keeps the community safe.

One of the key reasons for protest under the Black Lives Matter movement is that the majority of black people within their own communities (especially in the USA) feel unsafe and insecure. Every member needs that safety and security and so many feel it is necessary we begin to imagine what this would look like and how it could be achieved by changing the very system that is meant to do that in the first place.

Those who are protesting for a defunded police force are not necessarily asking the force to be abolished, but funding should instead be redirected into community-based safety strategies that better reflect the needs of the community.

People need mental health and sexual health clinics, they need ENT services, better education and housing, as well as better-funded fire departments. These are the services we require more than anything (which is what assessing the purposes of 999/9111 calls has found), instead what is effectively a growing military presence on our doorsteps.

The idea is that redirecting money to these services would act to deter crime, as professionals would be able to better address societal problems like homelessness and mental health issues.

As a society we typically rely on the police to deal with societal problems - perhaps we have become too reliant on them and they have too many responsibilities.


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