Various Bodies That Are Engaged Criminology Essay

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

The terms police and policing has been the topic of many academics research and a multitude of books and papers have been published in recent times. This essay will not attempt to elaborate on these terms but some classifications are of some significance to the essay question to determine the differences between the two terms. According to (Button 2002: 6)

The police are the body of men and woman employed by the state who patrol the streets, [possess special powers], deal with crime, ensure order and who undertake a range of other social service-type functions. Policing however is essentially a function of society that contributes to a particular social order that is carried out by a variety of different bodies and agents.

Rainer classifies the police as a specific organisation, and policing refers to a social process of which the police and other policing bodies are part (Rainer 1994 as sited in Button 2002). Another classification by Johnston states, '… policing encompassed the regulation of government, morals and economy' (Johnston1992a as sited in Button 2002: 5). By considering these classifications, it can be assumed that the two forces are disconnected but in some instances perform the same duties. Most academics has attempted to categorise the multitude of agencies involved in policing, by means of categories such as, 'private security sector', 'hybrid policing', 'citizen policing', 'Policing by government', 'Policing through government', 'Policing above government', 'Policing beyond government' and 'policing below government' (Johnston 1992a; Loader 2000 as site in Button 2002). Button further argues that a multitude of other public bodies can be classified under public policing whom are funded through taxation and employed or contracted by the state, for example, the Health and Safety Executive, Home Office police forces, sheriffs and under-sheriffs of the court, other public bodies such as health and safety officers, environmental health officers, in-house security working for public sector organisations, community policing organisations, and the private security industry when contracted by government agencies. The private security industry, charitable bodies and in-house security divisions of private corporations are some examples of private policing bodies as these bodies are funded through fees and donations and are employed by private companies and charitable organisations. Speed cameras on the roads, surveillance systems, intruder alarm systems and access control systems are some examples of when technology is used to achieve policing in an area where an individual does not necessarily have to be present to deter crime and uphold the law. The use of technology can be classified as either public or private depending on whether or not it is funded through taxation or fees (Button 2002).

To further determine the differences between the police and other policing bodies the means of funding needs to be examined. Consequently Button argues that the public policing agencies are funded through taxation and employed by the government or state and therefore classified as public, if policing bodies are not funded through taxation but by companies through fees, they are therefore classified as private (Button 2002). To establish what other factors distinguishes the public police from other policing bodies, this assay will examine the duties each policing unit performs on a daily basis. Button's description to this is that the police carry out patrols, investigate crimes and arrest lawbreakers, similar tasks are performed by other public policing agencies for example the Public Transport Police whom also possess special powers but employed by a private corporation and in some instances the private security industry also performs similar tasks (Button 2002). What distinguish these daily duties is that the public police are full-time publicly employed officials, possess special powers including the power to apply the legitimate use of force to affect an arrest, detain suspects, and hand suspects over to the authorities for prosecution (Jones and Newburn 2002). Egon Bittner argued that the power to apply the legitimate use of force is the 'distinguishing characteristic of the police' (Bittner 1974, 1980 as sited in Jones and Newburn 2002:132). In contrast private security officers are employed by private corporations, possess only ordinary citizen powers and must hand all suspects over to the public police to be detained and prosecuted (Button 2002). Although private citizens and therefore a security officer, do not possess the same powers as police constables do, private security guards are still seen as a figure of authority and a private citizen can still make use of their citizen powers in certain circumstances to apprehend suspects, affect a citizen's arrest by using force and detain a suspect until such time that the suspect can be handed over to a sworn police constable (Button 2007). Taking these daily tasks and citizen powers into consideration, it can be assumed that minimal differences actually exist among the public and private policing bodies.

Having illustrated some of the different agencies involved in policing it can be assumed that with the countless diverse agencies and bodies that are involved in policing, whether public or private, can illustrate how policing have become pluralised and fragmented. The terms 'pluralisation' and 'fragmentation' has widely been used by academics to describe the introduction of new and in some cases the replacement or removal of other forms of policing in the public and private sectors (Bayley and Shearing 1996; Johnston2000a as sited in Button 2002). Many academics has attempted to identify the mounting reasons for the growing 'pluralisation' and 'fragmentation' of policing, the most sensible arguments are that a major shift towards the privatisation of the public police has taken place and that 'in the last thirty years the states monopoly on policing has been broken by the creation of a host of private and community-based agencies' (Bayley and Shearing 1996 as sited in Jones and Newburn 2002: 131). Button argues that in the last fifty years some non core functions of the public police have been privatised as the private sector now performs these tasks on a daily basis, for example, the patrolling of public streets, the escorting of cash in transit vehicles, investigation of fraud and the reaction to burglar alarms (Button 2002). Recent privatisation plans by some municipalities to privatise large parts of the public police force can further illustrate the growing fragmentary privatisation of the public police (Travis and Williams 2012). David Taylor-Smith, head of G4S predicts that further large scale privatisation of the public police's functions can occur during the next five years (Taylor and Travis 2012). The privatisation of the public police can be attributed to what Button argues is the state's growing adoption of commercial business models to ensure an efficient and cost effective service is delivered to the public (Button 2002).

The growing pluralisation and fragmentation of policing can be attributed to a multitude of other factors and are summarised below. Bayley and Shearing argues that the growing pluralisation of policing can be attributed to the assumption that the states monopoly on policing has been broken in the last thirty years, proof of this that there are 'twice as many private security agents than public police officers in the UK' and 'in addition that the private security sector is growing faster than public policing'. Furthermore the growth of citizen policing has also led to the assumption that the 'police are no longer the primary crime-deterrent presence in society' (Bayley and Shearing 1996 as sited in Jones and Newburn 2002: 131). Consequently Stenning argues that it is has become increasingly difficult to clearly distinguish the different roles and responsibilities that exist between the public police and other private policing bodies (Stenning 2000 as sited in Stenning 2009). Some academics even argue that the states monopoly over policing has never really existed. This argument is mostly based on employment figures of the public police versus the private security industry that clearly demonstrate the dominance of the private security industry in terms of employee numbers (Garland 1996 as sited in Jones and Newburn 2002). Crawford and Lister further argues that by considering the growth of the private security industry it is clear that security guards 'are no longer peripheral but key providers of policing' (Crawford and Lister 2004:7).

Button argues that part of the reasons for the fragmentation of policing is that governments have privatised state assets and outsourced public services to the private sector thus reducing the size of the state policing agencies The contracting out to the private sector of managing prisons, escorting of prisoners, security at magistrate courts, security at police premises and the use of civilians to replace police officers has further fragmented the public police, as previously the police routinely performed these duties. (Button 2002). Consequently Jones and Newburn argues that 'Countless scholars, as well as many senior police executives themselves, have recognized that the responsibility for policing provision in liberal democratic societies is now in practice shared between a growing plethora of governmental and non-governmental providers' (Jones and Newburn 2006 as sited in Stenning 2009: 22).

Button argues that the pluralisation and fragmentation of policing in general has affected the public and the police in various positive and negative ways. Firstly it can be assumed that with the increase in private policing agencies engaged in policing, the general public should then be protected against crime, in contrast the reduction of public policing agencies could result in numerous human rights violations by private policing agencies concerned only with profit and loss. Secondly the cost benefits derived from the reduction of public policing agencies has meant that governments can direct these funds back into other social projects, in contrast the continued privatization of the public police could lead to a conflict of interest as a result of the growing involvement of private corporations in policing. Thirdly it can be assumed that the public police's authority has declined due the increase of additional agencies that are involved in policing as there are less interaction between the public and the police. In contrast the additional policing agencies involved in policing might influence the public's perception on the public police's role in society (Button 2002).

In conclusion it can be assumed that radical changes have and will continue to re-shape the public police's role and responsibilities in modern democratic countries such as the United Kingdom. Bearing in mind that governments and the world's economy will continue to develop and evolve so then will new forms of policing emerge and old policing models will be replaced to mimic the new government's policies and future economic prospects. In consideration of the growing pluralisation and fragmentation of the public police it can further be assumed that although both sides of the policing spheres perform similar duties they are still indeed separate entities with variable degrees of powers, accountabilities to and relationships with the government and private sectors. By evaluating the arguments above and recognising the vast array of other bodies involved in policing, it is clear that although the public police remains the most important entity in the multiplicity of policing, it can no longer claim to be the primary policing force in society. Policing is a shared function that is distributed across all public and private domains.