Public Value: A New Means to Peel an Apple?

  • Jean Hartley
  • Ian Hesketh


This conceptual paper examines the public value framework developed by Moore (1995) and Benington and Moore (2011) and uses the framework analytically as a way to address demand in policing and to prioritise and justify actions. It is therefore a potential tool for evidence-based policing. This paper examines the policing context in which the public value framework may be useful, and then examines existing theory and evidence about its use in policing. In the United Kingdom ‘traditional’ crime is reported to be falling but the demand on policing services is increasing and changing in nature. A decrease in overall measured crime is incongruent with increases in serious and organised crime, child sexual exploitation, domestic abuse and cyber offences. It is estimated that there may be as many as 3 million unrecorded fraud and cyber incidents (Thornton, 2015). There is undoubtedly a greater demand on specialist skills, time and resources from police forces. Much of the emerging threat is complex and virtual in nature, involving multiple partners and where there are no easy, agreed or known solutions. Counterterrorism, mental health, violence, child sexual exploitation and missing persons are all issues where public expectations of the police are high. Yet the strategic management tools from the 1990s onwards focus on organisational goal setting, targets and key performance indicators, ignoring wider outcomes and often creating performance rigidity, reinforcing silo mentality and reinforcing the gaming of performance data. In May 2015 the newly elected UK government announced a review of all forces that were still setting arbitrary targets, despite numerous warnings to desist. This paper explores and reports whether and how, in a time of limited resources yet expanding expectations, the public value framework can be used as an underpinning philosophy while also providing a prompt for practical actions for policing activity.

How to Cite
Hartley, J., & Hesketh, I. (2015). Public Value: A New Means to Peel an Apple?. European Law Enforcement Research Bulletin, (13), 64-69. Retrieved from