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Challenges in the 21st Century Police Force

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Criminology
Wordcount: 2960 words Published: 9th May 2017

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What are the Challenges a Police Force face in a diverse Society?

A diverse society is a society in which there are different kinds of people, different races such as black, white, Asian, Mexican etc. The theory of diversity includes acceptance and respect. It means understanding that each individual is unique and knowing individual differences. These can be along the magnitudes of age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, physical abilities, socio-economic status and religious beliefs. This essay will explain in detail these main challenges that police face in a diverse society.

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Diversity in the police force is one of the most major aspects that should be looked at. This is because of the outcome that it is most likely to have on the effectiveness and the overall perception of the police force. Policing is one of the most vital requirements of a non-violent living of society. Policing can be seen as overseeing others ensuring that they keep to law and order. As a result the most significant work of the police is to implement public orders and ensure that they abide by the law. The police force is given the order of imposing law in society. It makes sure people practice their individual rights but in doing so they do not obstruct the rights of others to practice their rights too.

The police force is also given responsibilities to oversee the public relationship. In servicing the public, the police therefore are involved in an arrangement of activities that are meant to ensure a supportive atmosphere of life in the public. In this regard, they adapt important functions like management and directing of traffic, be present at emergencies, directing tourists, and other purposes further than their ordinary tasks of arresting and punishing law breakers.

For that reason we can say the community needs regulating by the police in order to be operational. This shows that they will need to be in full effect in their work in order for them to deal with a number of different issues that arise in the running of order in public. It will be essential if police are well equipped, organized and well adapted to these challenges. The public is diverse so is the complications so the police will need to be highly prepared to address this in public.

And so, one of the most vital problems that in the police force that it becomes a necessity to look into is diversity in their training and in their plan for the police force in order to address situations effectively. Disappointment to deliver services will not be the only bad outcome of lack of diversity but it will also be compounded.

It has been shown that the malfunctioning of the police force is increasing rapidly as a result of lack of doubt and faith between different ethnic groups depending on the way they feel represented in the force. In major cities around the world, there has been increasing conflicts between the ethnic minority groups and the majority of the police force, for example in the US conflict is constantly accumulating between the white police and the Black American youths who feel that they are not represented in the police force. Race plays a factor, to the extent that it’s a white officer and a black victim. Black people were subject to unusual policing, and depicted by the media, politicians and criminal justice agents as a ‘social problem’ and demonised as ‘folk devils’.

Consequently, this could lead to the public being reluctant to give information to the police for that reason this undermines the issue of communicating police. The public or the police are also likely to decline or appear as a witness due to the relationship between the two which becomes non-existent. It has been shown that some of the crimes that are committed particularly in the low income areas are due to marginalisation of these areas since they are not well represented in the police force. (Spencer and Hough 2000, p.82) The minute the marginalised groups feel that they have been disregarded and not well represented, they may resort to organising as well as joining criminal gangs and criminal activities which take on the role of protecting their area and the public where police have been unsuccessful. This will also lead to police orders not being recognised in the marginalised groups subsequently they may not feel as part of the larger society.

In some instances it has been shown that the lack of integration of the marginalised groups in the police force can result to anxiety and in some cases riots. There have been several claims that the communities who felt side-lined always feel like they are victimized by the police force and are almost certainly likely to rise against some police orders. Between the 6th and 10th of august 2011 thousands ofpeoplein the UK were rioting in several boroughs in London and many cities and towns. This was due to the protest against the death of a local who was shot dead by police without reason, violence then began, destroyed homes, police vehicles, andbusinessof citizens and even magistrate’s court of London. The following reasons can be outlined as basic reasons for the riots; poor relationship between the police and communities, especially where a ‘stop and search’ occurred whilst some deliberately engaged in the riots to loot without any consequence and others engaged deliberately to attack the police.

As we mentioned there is a possibility of growth within street groups/gangs which take on the role of the police. This makes the streets more dangerous not only for the police but also for the community and a breeding ground for unlawful criminal activities. (Arvind 1999, P.270)

There has been an increase in diversity in the UK society since 1960s. This was due to the increased rate for global order that was taking place as well as the growth of the economic system that gave rise to different classes in society. There was also the enactment of new legislations which were all intended at winding the right of the previously marginalised group. Incidentally these acts were looking towards generating a more lawful society where individuals coexisted as one and where there

A number of legislations that were put in place since then to address the necessities of marginalised groups. The sexual Act 1967 was enacted in the awareness of legalising and protecting homosexuality which was practiced by a minority group in the UK society. In 1970 the Equal Pay Act was to create more fairness in the workplace and to decrease the growth in segmentation of the society into classes.

The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 was to defend individuals from being discriminated on the foundations of their sex particularly in employment and in other public places. In 1976 the Race relations Act was to address the issue of discrimination according to race. This was aimed at protecting the human rights of minority races in the UK. In the recent past there has been way of Human Rights Act 1998 which prolonged the protection in contradiction of discrimination on the ground of religion.

All the above represents laws that have been put in place in the UK in order to bring some equality. This has been due to the awareness that society in the UK is facing numerous challenges. With such consciousness the government has been in the lead in safeguarding the laws to lookout for diversity and to protect all individuals. ( Skalnick and Fyfe 2005,)

Nevertheless there have been efforts by the government to address the issue of diversity in society; still there are some problems that the police force in the UK is facing. One of the foremost problems that have been affecting the public is gene hunt attitudes. This has been led by the opinions in society that there are some who are more superior to others and some who can accomplish better than others. This is evident to the belief that police men are better than police women and consequently there has been a twisted recruitment and employment in the police force. This issue has been dealt with in a comprehensive manner but it still remains a matter in the police force.

On the other hand there are other problems that have been there and are still present. One of such problems has been racism and ethnicity. The issue of racism has not only been mirrored in the police force itself but has also caused an effect on the relationship between the police and the public. For example there are some races that are imposed to abrupt stop and search in the public as mentioned earlier. It has been publicised that Black youth and Asians are imposed to this form of inequality by the police force. The use of stop and search powers by the police has been the most controversial issue in debates about policing ethnic minority communities. Specifically for young black men the humiliating experience of being stopped repeatedly and searched is a fact of life, in some parts of London at least. Also research evidence shows that in general, people who are seen as ‘white’ tend to have a more satisfactory experience of the police than people whose ancestry lies in Asia, Africa and the ‘islands of the sea’.

Inside the police force there has been animosity on the mode of promotion as the proportion of ethnic minority officers at constable and advanced level remains low compared to others. The numbers of ethnic minorities at the higher ranks of the police service inappropriately continue to be low – only 45 ethnic minorities were ranked at Superintendent and above in 2006 in comparison to 1,634 white people ( Minsitry of Justice 2007)

In 2004, a report for the Morris Inquiry by Assistant Commissioner/Policeman Tarique Ghaffur found black and Asian officers are expected to be investigated twice as likely or receive formal written warnings compared to other officers. This indicates that the issue of ethnic issues and racism is not only reflected in the policing of the public but it is also a problematic within the police force itself. In this regard the majority of white police officers have been shown to be mistreating their black and Asian counterpart based on holding of ethnic minority suspects. (Rowe 2004, p. 71)

An additional problem that the police force has been facing is gender issues. Historically there has been improvement on this subject. There was not at all any woman in the UK police force till the development of Women’s Police Service (WPS) in London in 1914. This was formed by Suffragette and anti-slavery complainers Margaret Dawson and Nina Boyle.

Yet there was still no connection the Metropolitan police force. At that time the Chief commission permitted those to patrol the setter, to take on rescue work on prostitutes; however they were issued with identity cards. Female police were seen as a side police to assist the main police force to deal with petty/minor issues. In 1915 the Police in Grantham, Lincolnshire became initially the first to recruit women officially in the force with Mrs. Edith Smith becoming the first female police officer to be granted the power to arrest. In 1918 the metropolitan’s police selected 25 women for the world of patrol but they were not given power to arrest till 1923 to 1930 (Westmarland 2001, p.93)

Even though they were included in the police force, women continue as a separated force from the main police force. Nonetheless this was brought to an end with the enactment of the Equal Pay Act of 1970 which required police authority to take stock. In 1973 there was a move with the integration of the women’s police service in the main police force. This was 150 years since the development of the Metropolitan Police. ( Brown and Heidersohn 2000)

For all that time whilst there was low presentation of women in the police force, many problems were experienced with the treatment of the cases regarding women. Increased rates of rape were becoming common and most of these cases were not well controlled by the male officers who had the same male ego with the rapists. Victims of these occurrences were not able to talk to female officers who could have understood them well and better.

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Even by late 1990s there was still not a professional force that could carefully deal with the issue of rape. In this year the Met Assistant Commissioner agreed with the notion that the police force could be making a contribution to low convincing rates for rapists due to lack of professionalism in their work. This is evident to primary evidence kits which are used to take urine samples and mouth swabs before a medical examination takes place which was only used in only 1/3 of all the instances that they were likely to be used. (Cater Collin 2004)

Sexuality is also an issue as far as diversity in the police force is fretful. There has been many assumptions that has been made with regards to this issue that homosexuality is likely to effect the police. There has been gradual acceptance since 1960s with the legislations that were made. In 1990 the development of the gay police association including high profile police included high profile police offences which led to an increase in complaints of homophobic among police officers. It is recorded that between 2007 and 2007 there were around 7000 driven of homophobia in the police force.

The issue of disabled police officers has surfaced more than often. They have claimed to be side-lined which led to the development of National Disabled Police association. There has also been an issue increasing regarding religion in the police force.

Together police performance should be carried out in alliance with the public in order to help them recognize the diversity within that community itself. The two concepts above all relate to a series of problems but all in which can help improve good service delivered by the police. Both concepts can be taken as a likely way of responding to the devisers needs of the various groups within society.

In 1999 there was determination to increase the number of police officers recruited from ethnic minorities. The racist murder of a black London teenager, Stephen Lawrence, in April 1993 triggered this and a subsequent inquiry by Sir William Macpherson into his death. The Macpherson report which was published in February 1999 concluded that the police handling of the murder investigation had been marred by “institutional racism” and called, amongst other things, for targets to be set to increase the recruitment and retention of ethnic minority officers.

Looking carefully at the concept of policing by the community, we find that new measures have been taken on. Various proposals have been proposed by the home office in terms of increasing this diversity within the police force. There has been an increase in the proportion of serving police officers who are from ethnic minorities, from 0.7 per cent in 1986 to 3.4 per cent in 2005 ( Ministry of Justice 2007). This means that they remain considerably under-represented given that around 7 per cent of the economically active population are from ethnic minorities, and this was also below the target of 4 per cent proposed in 2004.

The home office targets to increase this by February 2009 although it was decided to drop this “unrealistic” central target and have it replaced with individual targets for to each police force to imitate the ethnic make-up of their local communities. A growing trend in the variation of employing where from 2003 it was passed that the assessor from police recruits will be from the local community rather than the police force. There has also been an increased consciousness on the need that certain issues such as rape needs to be addressed especially with an increase in recruiting female officers. Furthermore issues such as sexuality need to be addressed such as homophobic attacks and Islam phobia attacks.

To conclude police face multiple challenges everyday continuously addressing the issue of diversity’s but this will help to make the police force more receptive to the requirement of the public and will also assist improving the relationship between the police and the public.


Arvind, V 1999, Cultural roots Tucson, AZ. of police corruption in India, Policing, 3, (pp. 234)

Brown, J. & Heidersohn, F 2000, Gender and policing: comparative perspectives, MacMillan pp. 301

Carter Collins, S.2004, Sexual harassment and police discipline: Who’s policing the police? Policing, Vol.4, pp. 511

Heidensohn, F 2005, Women in Control? In Newburn, Policing, pp. 751-760

Joan, M 1998, Deadly force and the rule of law: the Guyana example, Policing, 3, (pp. 465 – 479)

Rowe, M 2004, Policing, race and racism, William

Silvestri, M 2003, Women in charge: policing, gender and leadership, William

Skalnick, J. & Fyfe, J 2005, the beating of Rodney King in Newburn, Policing, pp. 568-575

Spencer, B. & Hough, M 2000, Policing diversity: lessons from Lambeth, Home Office, Policing and Reducing Crime Unit

Westmarland, L 2001, Gender and policing: sex, power and police culture, William


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