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Japanese Policing Is Illustrated Criminology Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Criminology
Wordcount: 2180 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Following the establishment of the London metropolitan police by Sir Robert Peel in 1829, the arrangement of police forces throughout the country was a cumulative process, with each anew local police force operating according to the needs of individual communities they served. Hence, policing was part of the self-directed process insofar as was it was proposed to reflect the needs of the public. In that history, the roots of English policing lay in a particular functionary.

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The principles of community oriented policing in Britain in addition to several important aspects of its practice e.g. neighbourhood patrols can be traced to the creation of professional policing in the nineteenth century and the ways in which the police mandate was established. Early authors of British policing such as Peel established the notion that effective policing can only be attained with the consent of the community. Established in 1829, The Peelian Principles currently are applicable and used in law enforcement agencies and community policing organizations across the world today. The principles preserve the notion of ‘policing by consent’ which has been at the core of British policing since. The second and third principles state that the police would not be able to operate without the active co-operation of the community (ACPO 2012). Community policing involves and is seemingly justified as necessary by the Peelian Principles stated above. This remains the case, but the difficulties facing communities alongside the police have altered over time.

In the Peelian model, found in Britain, the police are less pervasive of community than their authoritarian counterparts and, while it is accepted that they do perform an array of servicing tasks, police organizations are more generally equipped towards emergency response and law enforcement than routine intervention in neighbourhood life. In Eastern organisations such as Japan, argues Bayley (1982, police are used as an important element in social control, but in contrast with the other two models, tends to maintain order through harnessing the forces of informal social control. Rather than the use of robust and legal authority, they cultivate community involvement in crime control through extensive, service-style interactions with the community by example and persuasion allowing them to become an integrated part of the Japanese community in which they can regularly advise, engage and mediate functions (Bayley 1976). This conforms systematically to the ideal of the koban

In western models of community policing the main function of the police is to maintain order, and where the citizen commonly fails to recognise the legitimacy of the state and its agents, the police. In such societies, the police may carry out a range of administrative tasks on behalf of the state, but rarely provide a public service that addresses the needs of the community. In comparison, a community-oriented system like Japan is one where the main function of the police is to provide a public service that addresses the wider needs of the community as distinguished by the Koban and Chuzaisho. The emphasis here is more on crime as indicative of community problems as an affront to authority. Such a model adopts that the police are afforded considerable legitimacy by local communities.

Community policing elements in UK are, for example, incorporated in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. It facilitates for the administration of crime surveys to organise local priorities in respect to crime and disorder. The English tradition of high levels of discretion and decentralisation of the police service also fit a community-oriented policing style. Community policing is also in operation, albeit sometimes seemingly in disguise, in Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands. When introduced in western societies it often means that a shift is made towards either more local efforts on crime prevention, a reprioritisation of non-emergency services, increased public accountability or a decentralisation of decision-making on policing (Skolnick and Bayley 1988).

Police officers seem to have a great deal of respect in Japan, and koban officers are generally proud of their neighbourhood and the work they do. Needless to say, in many countries around the globe this is not quite the case. Lack of trust between police and citizens will make effective community policing almost impossible. For example following Scarman report (Scarman 1981) on Brixton riots, it focused attention on the needs for the police to develop closer engagements with members of the communities that they served. This led to the sense police were disconnected from the community and as a consequence they lacked the legitimacy required to police by consent. Undeniably Bennett describes community policing as its most basic, “a greater working partnership between the police and the public” (Bennett 1994: 224). Community police calls for much more decentralisation in the UK’s policing system like US which has over 20,000 policing agencies throughout the country (Casey 2010) which is similar to the Japanese policing structure where police officers are seen as state servants. After the World War two, the US authorities initiated wide changes in Japan in rebuilding its police systems as a decentralized democratic body to impose a local system of policing from its invasive neighbourhood function.

Neighbourhood policing has become the latest model of community policing in the UK, whilst community policing has been a prevalent model in the USA it hasn’t been as noteworthy in the UK. Nevertheless during the early 2000s there was growing anxiety to the rise in the public’s perception of crime. This eventually led to the development of the National Reassurance Policing Programme (NRPP) which developed a set of practical policing strategies that was orientated, largely, at reducing fear of crime midst the community. The Neighbourhood Policing model developed entirely out of the NRRP, and is undertaking with the extension of the policing family in order to provide each neighbourhood a local policing team that is both visible and accessible (Home Office 2008) much like the koban concept of community orientated policing in Japan where there are situated locally to help police the community. John Alderson (1979), a former chief constable argued that society was changing and that policing styles had to reflect this. Society was becoming “free, permissive and participatory” and authoritarian policing styles were no longer applicable (Alderson 1979: 376). His vision for the future of policing consisted of important aims that are still relevant in contemporary community policing styles for instance neighbourhood policing. In addition his suggestions placed emphasis on a more pro-active style of policing that works with the public in their communities again much like the koban concept of community oriented policing where they take a much more proactive role in taking a real interest to the local community needs of crime and disorder that is based upon active co-operation by preference to policing by consent.

As for crime and community relations, at a time when policing in the UK and USA had drifted into more reactive and detached modes, the Japanese koban appeared to offer a model of community policing at its best and most effective. The Japanese Police Bureau was established in 1874 under the Ministry of Home Affairs. Japanese police were supposedly “oppressive and even instituted a ‘thought control’ operation to blot out any thinking contrary to overt support of the regime in power” (Kanfman 1975: 17). After the Second World War, the US assisted Japan in rebuilding its police systems as a decentralized democratic body in an attempt to reduce the power of the police to impose a local system of policing. However these reforms were short lived and by 1954, Japan enacted a Police Law to restructure the police appropriate to cultural its needs (Hoffman 1982; Kanfman 1975) .

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By far the most well-known of the alternative models to the west is the koban structure of community policing in Japan. However, it contains a similar tradition of historical roots, of police integration with homogeneous communities of citizens, and of effectiveness. The Japanese koban offers a legitimate alternative to present day community policing in Western accounts. To serve local communities, the Japanese have local level substations, known as koban and chuzaisho, a residential police box in the rural areas. In the West the Police officers that would closely resemble the Japanese Chuzaisho officers are the sheriffs in the United States. The unit is typically a two-storey building, recognisable by the traditional red lamp. Koban officers normally do not drive around in patrol cars but are often on foot. This encourages frequent interactions with the community, where issues of crime are not the forefront, similarly with PCSO’s in the UK who are highly visible in the communities predominantly on foot or cycle patrol. Yano (1989: 127) describes them as “All day, policemen at the koban (police boxes) keep watch on the neighbourhood, answers questions, and help those who are in need of assistance”. This provides a local presence that is missing in many western societies, although somewhat parallel to UK’s concept of neighbourhood teams in the UK.

The core purpose of PCSO’s is to support Neighbourhood Policing teams in their neighbourhood thus spending the majority of their time within neighbourhoods (NPIA 2008) therefore dealing with community priorities and concerns, through community engagement and effective problem solving but not wholly reminiscent of the koban community orientated policing concept.

Kobans form the first line of police response to the public and as such the scope of general assistance is wide. Koban officers may lend out umbrellas, may act as a lost and found office and often run various community activities e.g. distribution of local letters (Leishman 1999) to accepting a range of welfare and social service responsibilities. These officers attempt to become a part of the community, and their families often contribute in performing these jobs whilst in Britain, PCSO’s, are uniformed support staffs that help officers tackle issues such as vandalism and antisocial behaviour. The police officers also administer surveys. Police officers’ conduct twice-yearly house-by-house district surveys on residents for various information e.g. names, occupations, ages, vehicle registration numbers etc. which has almost become a custom in the Japanese culture as its voluntary and rarely opposed. This type of community policing practiced in Japan would create a breach of civil liberties in the Western community policing models

The Koban and Chuzaisho system remains the foundation of Japan’s centralized police system. In contrast to community policing in western world three common characteristics exist between police box operations relative to the practices of Japanese corporations. In essence, Japanese community policing is meditative of Japanese culture whereas the Peelian model of crime-fighting, much adapted according to local national and cultural circumstances. The result historically was a patchwork of different police organizations concerned to enforce social order in communities from a local source. The theme of Japanese culture is groupism which interconnects the two key concepts of ‘ie’ and ‘mura’. These two ideas cast Japan as one big family, in which each member is required to sacrifice their interest for the purpose of group welfare. Consistent with the concept of groupism, urban police boxes play a central role in carrying out police affairs as a team, relative to the Japanese community. Crime control is perceived to be a collective responsibility, a community matter, and not a function solely allocated to the local or state authorities like in the UK. Secondly, samurai heritage forms seniority, the basis of promotion. In the work place, i.e. police officers are promoted on the basis of seniority rather than ability in contrast to that of the UK. Thirdly, the career of a Japanese police officer is a lifetime commitment for both the officer and his family. Like all other professions in Japan, the job directs all other aspects of public and private life whereas in the UK police officers are required to retire after thirty years of service (Alarid & Wang 1997). From the above it illustrates Japan’s is culturally very homogeneous as well as inclusive unlike the west. Apart from ethnic homogeneity, there is a supposed unity in social norms. Japanese culture places significant emphasis on the importance of harmony. Evidently, this is conducive to a community oriented policing style in Japan (Castberg 1990).


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