Policing in Context
Discuss how the history and
development of British policing has resulted in the current model of policing
and the philosophy of ‘policing in consent’.
The history of policing shows a
sense of the origins and character of the many different policing cultures and organisations
that exist internationally (Wakefield and Fleming, 2009). Policing is an aspect
of social control (Rawlings, 2002). Stan Cohen has defined social control as
part of ‘organised ways in which society responds to behavior and people it
regards as deviant, problematic, worrying, threatening, troublesome or
undesirable’ (Rawlings, 2002). The year of 1829 is the year that the
Metropolitan Police was established. It was specifically created at this time
within local villages because there was a lot of violence due to the settlement
between victims and offenders, which normally involved remuneration and
violence. There was no structure or appeal and things were getting out of hand,
therefore, a force had to be introduced in order to keep the local people safe.
The development of the common law meant that a number of officials were appointed
to visit each town to introduce a common approach. Up until the 18th
century, there was no organised police system. Policing and the law enforcement
was left to the locals. These specific measures involved the collaboration with
the community to a greater or lesser extent (Whitfield, 2017).
The industrial revolution occurred
between 1760 to 1820/1840 and from the 1730’s the local improvement acts
normally included provisions for guards or constables to patrol the local towns
and villages, whilst the more rural areas did not have as great preparations. It
was beginning to fall into place by the end of the century that the forms of
policing were not effectively spreading to new districts and industrial areas.
The statistics that were provided from the year of 1805 displayed that crime
was increasing on a large scale. Concern arose amongst the governing classes
that the current condition of the nation was failing. Petty crime was no longer
tolerated due to the zero tolerance act that was introduced to British policing
as the governments promise to no longer tolerate crime. Some town authorities
took the initiative of stepping up their policing arrangements in the early 19th
century. An act of Parliament in 1800 allowed Glasgow to establish their own
city force and it was the first professional police force in Britain.in 1811
the “Dock Police Officer” was formed in Liverpool with the ability to stop and
search people and seize goods. From then on, police forces of canal, railway
and dock escalated (Whitfield, 2017).
Within growing industrial areas such
as Lancashire and Oldham, more local acts established forces. Any issues
regarding policing and crime were taken up with Robert Peel when he became Home
Secretary in 1822. He, as everyone did, seen the increase in criminal activity
as a threat to the stability of society at the time. In 1829 Peel’s
metropolitan police Bill gained parliamentary approval. His policing model was
not the only option; however, the philosophy of the Metropolitan Police became
widely adopted (Rawlings, 2002). The cut and colour of the uniforms of the
police officers were designed to differentiate from the military suggestions
but still made the officers stand out. From here, the ‘Sir Robert Peel’s
Principles of Law Enforcement’ was introduced. By the early 1950’s, the
government was considering extending policing on a national scale as most
English counties had no force (Rawlings, 2002). By the 1900’s, the number of
police within England, Scotland and wales totaled 46,800 working amongst 243
separate forces. Further merging in 1974 and then again in 2013 left us with
the current structure of 43 forces in England and Wales, Police Scotland and
the Police Service of Northern Ireland (Whitfield, 2017).
The term ‘Policing in Consent’ is
referred to and is known as a long-standing philosophy of British policing,
known as Robert Peel’s 9 Principles of Policing, that was previously mentioned.
According to the Home Office, the definition of policing by consent is to
recognise always that the power of the police to fulfil their functions and
duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behavior
and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.
Discuss the threats and
opportunities presented by pluralization.
In regards to policing,
pluralization refers to a perspective within police studies, observing the
expanding role of non-police service providers in policing and the variety of
different public, private and voluntary bodies that are now engaged in the
activity (Wakefield and Fleming, 2009). It is known to be one of the most
undisputed findings of contemporary policing studies that the past few decades
have witnessed (Devroe and Terpstra, 2015) and to a significant degree, it is a
local phenomenon (Johnston, 2000). In recent decades, the police services and
individual forces across the United Kingdom have been reconstructed as well as
there has been an increase in todays functions of policing that are carried out
by organisations other than the police. Pluralisation in policing comes with
both threats and opportunities. Because of pluralisation, the police are now recognised
as a part of a varied assortment of organisations with policing functions and a
diffuse array of policing processes (Newburn and Jones, 2012). Pluralisation of
policing has many benefits and opportunities, more so than threats and
disadvantages. Examples of these opportunities are that it means that there is
increased patrol within the wider sector such a traffic wardens and local
authority and it allows new sector bodies to be introduced, such as highway
agencies as well as increasing the number of volunteers. This means that the
police can focus more entirely on real crime and protecting the local
communities as opposed to wasting time on petty crime. There is already a huge
growth of both the commercial and private security industries and this will
only continue to flourish which is also advantageous. There has been a number
of people contributing to community safety in lots of different forms. For
example; car park attendants, nightclub door staff, neighborhood wardens, park
keepers and security in big branded shops and shopping centers (Johnston,
According to Rogers (2016), the
government continues to argue that its proposals have the potential to affect
the police and other law enforcement agencies. He states that chief officers
will be able to deliver a number of services using staff and volunteers as
opposed to officers, which will more than likely save thousands of police
officer hours, which could be put to better use. However, having to train
volunteers as part of the special constabulary and supplying them police
officer uniforms means that more costs will apply to the police forces (Rogers,
2016). Local people coming together to create these activities and contribute
to society in aid of our police force will only build safer and stronger
communities and allow police remain on top of the real dangers.
Along with benefits and
opportunities comes threats and disadvantages. The issues for policing is how
these can be coordinated to make the most effective contribution in regards to
making communities safer (Home Office, 2001). Some of these threats include
plural and community policing in regards to the lack of effort being put into
integrating the current voluntary and private sectors with multi agency work.
Front line workers need to be introduced to community intelligence and
confidence in order to help make this happen. PCSO’s are also not being fully
briefed on the neighborhood policing activities. To improve services the police
should be made fully aware of what is occurring at all times in order to allow
them to be given opportunities and to increase an understanding of the
language. Pluralisation within the commercial security sector allows
opportunities for expansion. For example, the increased “fear of crime”, the
financial burden on the national economy, the growing realization that the
state alone cannot control crime, redefining the relationship between the
state, free market and civil society. Generally the new forms of policing
concentrate on the surveillance and control of petty crime and social disorder
in public places. However, multiple providers, both public and private may, be
involved in the prevention and governance of petty crime and social disorder in
public places (Johnston, 2000).
It has been established that plural
policing has provided British police forces with hope and opportunity.
Introducing new sectors such as neighborhood watch, traffic wardens and the
special constabulary allow the appointed police officers to focus on major
criminal issues and to allow the other groups to focus on the petty crime. The
police have saved a lot of police officer time since introducing plural policing,
although they have possibly spent more money throughout the process. Plural
policing allows the local communities to get involved in keeping their homes
safe, however, some threats have been recognised. One is that it must be taken
into consideration that assumptions cannot always be made that volunteers will
contribute in sufficient numbers to have an impact in the work required in the
world of plural policing. What will happen when numbers of volunteers and
certain sectors start decreasing? These are the questions that must be answered
if plural policing is to be continued within British police forces.
Is British policing both apolitical
and accountable? Is it right that it should be so?
According to Wakefield and Fleming (2009),
police accountability requires police officers, along with the institute in
which they belong, to justify, explain and answer for their conduct. At a
political level, police forces usually answer to a senior member of the
government, for example, an attorney general or a police minister (Wakefield
and Fleming, 2009). The accountability processes and structures are determined
by the nature of an independent state and its particular political system. Specific
crime patterns are taken into consideration when debating whether or not action
needs to be taken against individual police officers or forces. Examples of
these crime patterns are; time taken to respond to emergency calls, clear-up
rates, public satisfaction with local police provisions and financial scrutiny
(Rowe, 2008). Models are created for these types of police activities and that
is one of the main problems within police accountability in relation to the
rules, regulations and hierarchies or decision-making and responsibility (Rowe,
According to the Denning Doctrine,
all police forces are under the direction and control of their Chief Constable’.
They would have operational independence and every day control, which was
changed from ‘direction and control’ following the electoral victory in which
the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill soon followed. However, what
followed was in regards to the strategic power – it was directed to the Police
and Crime Commissioner. This is where the topic reaches a political stage
within the process of police officers being accountable.
The law enforcement presents
problems for theory of democratic accountability. (Newburn, 2012).
Courts of the law, complaints and
the IOPC, Tri-partite arrangement and other political oversight are all sources
A judicial review is a court proceeding within
the Administrative Court where the Judge reviews the lawfulness of a decision
or action. It is in regards to whether or not the law has been properly applied
and the correct procedures have been followed
Discuss the policing strategies
employed in British policing since the 1970’s, their development and success or
The historical policing approach was
incident and demand driven and the emphasis was on enforcement, detection and
prosecution. Some alternative approaches began to emerge in the mid 1980’s
following further research within the police after the riots of 1980 and 1981
and any enquiries that followed it. The report from the riots questioned the
policing methods of particular areas at the time. Civilians were not happy and
local people were hurt and even killed during these riots and it immediately
questioned the police force and their capability of keeping everyone safe and
secure. The police were seen as useless and incapable and changes needed to be
made. The community policing then entered the mainstream debate and following
this, the British police started to questions some of their methods of public
order policing. This interesting approach began to occur around the UK in the
early/mid 1980’s and was often referred to as “Problem Solving Policing”. This
became more and more popular amongst the British Nationals and involved looking
beneath the obvious problem to the actual causes. Doing this allowed proper
consideration and shed light on imaginative and proper solutions to fix the
current policing methods at hand. A more systematic approach towards the
solving of these problems allowed the problems to be defined more specifically.
Goldstein identified three distinct
elements of the process. These were to: 1. Research the problem. 2. Explore
possible alternatives. 3. Implement the process. The alternatives that
Goldstein suggested included changes such as: the use of zoning, new forms of
authority, developing new skills within police officers and physical as well as
The problem solving approach was
used on a variety of problems and it gained prominence during the
1980’s/1990’s. However, it was stated and accepted that not all alternatives
were within the responsibility of the police, some things just could not be
changed. Although not everything was able to be addressed, it was still supported
by the public.
Within the 1970’s research was
conducted and from this a theory was established. James Q. Wilson and George
Kelling published the “broken windows” theory in 1982 and it was used as a
metaphor for crime and disorder within neighborhoods McKee (2017). This theory
is arguably the most popular theory of crime within recent history, and one
with significant consequences for policing Wakefield and Fleming (2009). The “fixing broken windows” theory was
established in 1996 which is what the public had classified as appropriate and
it focused on the fundamental ‘order’. It was an act originally introduced to
prevent the increase of law breaking and it done so by maintaining order.
Another theory that was introduced
was known as the Zimbardo Experiment. This theory meant that smaller issues
would be dealt with to ensure that bigger problems did not stem from these. To
do this a greater interaction from the police was required, therefore, more
foot patrols were Introduced. Having more police on the streets reassured the
locals of their safety and proved to them that because they were making these
changes that the police force really did care for their well being and safety. This
act provided a steady relationship between reducing/preventing crime and
From these theories, a
scheme was further developed known as “zero
tolerance” and it was how the British government had hoped to fulfil their
promise of being intolerant of crime. It
was discovered by the New York Police Department and it is also known as “positive policing”. The Detective
Superintendent of Middlesborough CID took this scheme so seriously that he
vowed to quit his job if he had not reduced crime in his area by 20% within the
time period of 18 months during 2016. It is acts like this from police officers
that show their commitment to the public that lets them believe that the police
force is a jurisdiction that genuinely cares about their safety and the wellbeing
of the community – that they will do what they can to remain on top of the law.
involves a small team of police officers who police in a specific area. They
focus on issues such as anti-social behavior within their appointed community,
keeping along the lines of the broken window theory and follow the guidelines
of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. The British police forces have developed
drastically over the years since 1970 from having one local police force to
having dozens across the country, and within them forces having individual
groups that focus on specific areas of policing.
Overall, it is quite clear to see
that all strategies that have been put in place over the years since the 1970’s
have developed drastically and in a positive manner. Since each of these
strategies have been put in place for no other reason than to protect the
public and ensure the wellbeing of the community is maintained. Whether it’s
the zero tolerance policy or the broken window theory, all have developed as
the next step up from the previous one and each process has been a success as
today the police force and policing is seen as a credit to our communities and
can feel safe in our homes.
References and Reading List
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A., Willer, J., Chapman, J., Czarnomski, S. and Graham, J.
(2015). Neighbourhood Policing: Past, Present and Future. 1st ed. ebook
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Accessed 11 Jan. 2018.
A. (2017). Broken windows theory | Description & Results. online
Encyclopedia Britannica. Available at: https://www.britannica.com/topic/broken-windows-theory
T. and Jones, T. (2012). Handbook of Policing. Hoboken: Taylor and
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Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/policing-by-consent/definition-of-policing-by-consent
Home. (2018). Independent Office for Police Conduct – GOV.UK online Gov.uk.
Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/independent-office-for-police-conduct-launches-today
D. (n.d.). What is Neighbourhood Policing?. online Dorset Police.
Accessed 11 Jan. 2018.
P. (2002). Policing. Devon: Willian Publishing.
C. (2016). Plural policing. Policy Press.
M. (2008) Introduction to Policing. S.I: Sage Publications.
A. and Fleming, J. (2009). The Sage dictionary of policing. Los Angeles: SAGE.
University of Salford, M. (2016). Plural policing:
police in partnership with other agencies |
Archived Research Sites |
University of Salford, Manchester. online Salford.ac.uk. Available at: https://www.salford.ac.uk/archived-research-sites/centre-for-social-research/research/research-projects2/plural-policing-police-in-partnership-with-other-agencies