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Chapter

Cover The Politics of the Police

1. Watching the watchers: Theory and research in policing studies  

Benjamin Bowling, Robert Reiner, and James Sheptycki

This chapter offers a broad introduction to the study of policing. It first outlines the concepts of police and policing, and the long-term evolution of these processes, with an emphasis on the idea of policing as an aspect of social control. There is discussion of the notion of the police as a body of people patrolling public places in blue uniforms, with a broad mandate of crime control, order maintenance, and some social service and specialist functions. The chapter then considers various sources of police research ranging from journalists and academic institutions to official government-related bodies, think-tanks, and pressure groups. It also looks at the development of police research. The concluding section offers an analysis of the vexed conceptual relationship between policing and politics.

Chapter

Cover The Politics of the Police

11. Police powers and accountability  

Benjamin Bowling, Robert Reiner, and James Sheptycki

This chapter focuses on police powers, accountability, and the regulation of police discretion. It begins by considering the legitimation of police legal powers in democratic societies and the problem of police accountability. There is then discussion of policy-making for the police force—priorities in resource allocation, strategy, and style—and the street-level actions of rank-and-file officers. Developments in police powers before and after the landmark Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984, and the principle of fundamental balance between powers and safeguards supposedly enshrined in PACE are covered. The chapter then examines developments in police accountability, including the mechanisms for handling complaints against the police and the role of political control in police governance. It concludes by assessing the attempts to reconcile police power and democratic accountability in contemporary societies characterized by a patchwork of domestic, transnational, public, and private police agencies carrying out ‘high’ and ‘low’ policing.