Jacqui Smith has told police forces in England and Wales that 'empowering' local communities is the best way to further reduce crime levels.
Speaking at the annual Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) conference in Liverpool the home secretary urged forces to improve the way in which they engage with the public.
She called for a "genuine, consistent and meaningful" engagement with the public that would give them the information and access they needed.
Ms Smith pointed to the rollout of neighbourhood police schemes as evidence of the direction of policing in the UK.
"Local people now have the chance to shape the issues [that are important to them]," she continued.