A Study On Policing Services Criminology Essay

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The police are among the most ubiquitous institution of the current society. In most societies, police officers have often been deemed as the most approachable representatives of the government. In fact, when a civilian is stranded, in danger, crisis, and does not have anyone to approach, the policemen or a police station happens to be the most approachable and appropriate place. The fact that civilians have often used the police in different ways and functions has led to questions being raised about the real functions and role of the police in the society. Different people from various disciplines have advanced their opinion on this matter and none of the opinion coincides perfectly with other. According to May, the function of the police is to reduce the rate of crime and nothing else mattered [1] . As much as some people may support this opinion, other scholars have a different opinion. For instance, Coliandris, Rogers and Gravelle stated that the dynamism of the economy coupled with changes in the governing strategies has to a shift in the policing priorities and the delivery of policing services [2] . Therefore, the police are encouraged to carry out more duties tan they previously did. Ayling supports this opinion when she mentions that policing service is a public commodity that is meant to serve the interests of the public [3] . In truth, the public interest supersedes the notion of the police fighting crime only; instead, it may include the police offering services such as guidance and promotion of public order. The police may also offer services such as protection of public property correction and correction of undesired behaviors in the society. It is therefore logical to disagree with British Home secretary opinion, which dictates that the function of the police is limited to fighting crime.

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The history of policing is an important aspect in the modern roles of the police. In fact, the future functions and roles of the police cannot be discussed without understanding the historical aspect of policing. In the past, religion was a major force in the world. Therefore, the concept of policing was often associated with religion and was considered a divine force. At that time, a police officer had the role of a guardian with wisdom and the society gave them the right to enforce some rules about crime and deviance. Most police officers were therefore required to observe behavioral aspects of the society and discipline individuals whose behaviors deviated from the prescribed code of conduct. As times changed, the role and form of the police also changed [4] . In the period after religion lost its power and governments took over, the police adopted a military style of law enforcement. The duties of the police changed.

Over the years, the policing services have been shaped from previous encounter and history. In the early years, the police service was created in order to maintain law and order in the society. However, as the societies advanced, the structure and the functions of the police were changed in order to accommodate the dynamic nature of the society [5] . Many countries in the world have embraced the idea of police reforms so as to maintain the relevance of the policing units. The idea of police reforms includes bestowing unto the police officers some duties and responsibilities that traditionally were not part of the police function. In addition to the duties, the reforms incorporated a set rules and policies that would govern the behavior or conduct of a police officer. For instance, the protocol for conducting investigations and the manner in which suspects shall be treated during interrogations have been incorporated into the act of police reforms. Therefore, the police in the current times have more duties, responsibilities and functions than traditionally viewed. It should however be known that the role of the police in the society has changed to the dynamic nature of the society and the increase in public demand for police services.

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Initially the police was created to be a public service, which was supposed to cater for needs of all indiscriminately. However, as the society advanced the resources required to run the police force increased. Therefore, the resources required to run the police increased and the services could not be provided unlimitedly to all citizens. The increase in public demand for the police services coupled with other fiscal constraints led to a decrease in impartiality in provision of polices services. Ayling was of the opinion that the increase in responsibilities of the police rendered the non-rival nature of police services useless [6] . Hence, the police are currently forced to ration services to the public using a variety of mechanisms. In some countries, the police prioritize their services according the nature of duty sensitive duties usually take precedence over petty duties. In Australia, the police use prioritization and categorization models to determine how they will ration their services. Cases are prioritized according to the level of urgency or sensitivity [7] . Rationing on the other hand may include withdrawal of some services in areas where they are not necessary in order to free resources to be used elsewhere. The concept of rivalry in the policing service has occurred due to the variety of roles that the police are required to fulfill. If the police were to fulfill only one duty, the concept of rivalry might have easily been eliminated.

Upholding the law, fighting crime, and fulfilling other responsibilities in the society require a morally upright individual [8] . Furthermore, rationing police resources in an impartial manner requires an ethical police force. Therefore, in the course of performing their duties, police officers have to maintain certain standards or adhere to a code of conduct embedded in their profession. Currently, the constitution has bestowed unto the police some social responsibilities, which require them to be ethical at all times. Ethics are required to ensure that the citizens feel safe putting their safety in the hands of the police. The police often encourage the aspect of ethics in order to increase professionalism and to build trust between them and the society they are serving. Professionalism usually involves having knowledge of what is morally right and the right conduct of a police officer. A police officer with the knowledge of right and wrong will usually ensure that he or she maintains professionalism at all costs and provides the required services to the society. Moreover, ethics can be used to maintain an officer’s discipline, which will in turn ensure integrity and excellence in performance of duties. According to a research conducted in Canada, the subject on ethics has increasingly become complex as the duties of the police officers have increased [9] . Alain and Grégoire intimated that due to the ethical challenges facing the police it has become essential for the senior officers to provide proper leadership and guidance to the recruits [10] . The aspect of proper guidance would ensure that the young recruits would be able to deal with the multidimensional nature of the current police.

Although the police units are ostensibly organized into centralized or quasi- military organization that possesses a unified chain of command, the police are sometimes decentralized by political influences or other social; factors. In Argentina for instance, the police units are affected by the high rates of crimes and police duties. Therefore, some of the officers end up overlooking the chain of command and getting involved in corrupt deals [11] . Politicians’ interference in police matters also affects the manner in which the police fulfill their duties. In most cases, the politicians may exert pressure to the police thus causing them to deviate from their normal duties. In some countries, the police have been known to deviate from their normal schedule in order to cater for the needs of the politicians. This fact has made it difficult for the police to concentrate on a single task. In Australia, the military participation in peacekeeping has to be approved by a political body. This implies that political decision makers influence the duties performed by the policing unit in Australia.

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Despite, the passionate arguments advanced by most scholars on the role of police, the British Home secretary opinion may not be completely wrong. The Police’ main function is to fight and prevent crimes. In fact, if the police focus solely on fighting crime, majority of the other functions may fall under this category. Many scholars are of the opinion that the police have a broader role than just fighting crime. Broadly, the functions of the police can be divided into three, which include maintaining public order, prevention and detection of crime, and provision of assistance to persons in the society who need it. However, it should be understood that apart from a few cases, the assistance that the society or people require from the police has a relation to crime. For instance, people would require assistance from the police to recover their stolen goods. This implies that if the police eliminated the crime of stealing then people may not require assistance from the police. Crime is often the core element in most of the function performed by the police. Therefore, eliminating criminal activities may as well render other functions of the police useless [12] . If this perspective is considered, it is logical to assume that the British Home secretary was justified in assuming that the main function of the police is fighting crime.

However, the current society has advanced to a point where assistance from a police officer does not have to be related to crime. For instance, everyday, commuters in a busy highway may require the assistance of a police officer to control the flow of traffic. Furthermore, police officers are currently acting as mediators in family disputes, which are not necessarily criminal in nature. The functions of the police therefore cannot be limited to crime. Scholars believe that the idea of reforms and expounding on the nature of policing services is what has made the society sustainable. Incorporation of human right treaties among other principles sets by constitutions and legal documents has ensured that the role of the police in the society exceed that of a crime fighter alone [13] . Most civil societies in the world, if not all, recognize police officers as law enforcers. They have the task of upholding the law while the law also binds them.

After observing that the role of the police in the society goes beyond that of a crime fighter, it is logical to assume that the statement advanced by the British Home secretary lacks sufficient evidence to support its legitimacy. The current society has advanced to the extent that the role of the police cannot be limited to one function. Many scholars are of the opinion that the police have a broader role than just fighting crime. In fact, the functions of the police can broadly be divided into three. These functions include maintaining public order, prevention and detection of crime, and provision of assistance to persons in the society who need it. Many countries in the world have embraced the idea of police reforms in order to maintain the relevance of the policing units and to be in touch with a dynamic society. Police reforms have entailed bestowing unto the law officers more duties and responsibilities. In addition to the duties, the reforms incorporated a set rules and policies that would govern the behavior or conduct of a police officer. Historical evidence also suggests that the police had more than one role. Politicians and political decisions also play a very important role in the functions of the police since they influence policy formation and operations of the police. These scholarly opinions serve to show that Theresa May was wrong in proclaiming that the sole function of the police is to fight crime. Therefore, Policing should be viewed as a complex and a multidimensional task that performs more than one task and enhance the smooth running of the society.