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Maintaining Democratic Policing: The Challenge for Police Leaders

NCJ Number
Public Safety Leadership Research Focus Volume: 2 Issue: 2 Dated: June 2014 Pages: 1-7
Colin Rogers
Date Published
June 2014
7 pages
This brief report examines the changes in the policing landscape in the United Kingdom and considers whether these changes have led to unintended consequences for democratic policing approach.
The basic definition of democratic policing is the concept that policing is supported by consensus and the consent of the public. In addition, democratic policing requires police accountability and transparency. This brief report examines how the policing landscape in the United Kingdom has changed and whether these changes have led to unintended consequences for use of the democratic approach to policing. The report begins with a discussion of democracy and the three elements central to the idea of democracy: consensus, freedom, and equality. The author then examines the concept of policing in relation to these three elements, highlighting the paradox of the police in a democratic society: in order to do their jobs and protect people's rights, the police have additional legal powers that enable them to restrict individual freedom. The author discusses how the development of rationalization is a threat to democratic policing. Rationalization is used by bureaucratic organizations to justify their existence and show their work is effective, economic, and efficient. There are four main criteria that can be examined to determine the extent to which an organization is undergoing rationalization. These criteria are efficiency, calculability, predictability, and control. The report shows how these criteria can be examined in terms of police organizations. This is followed by a discussion on how rationalization presents problems for law enforcement officials, such as how the police's preoccupation with the smooth running of their organization can take priority over the fulfillment of the initial purpose of the police, namely protecting the public. This could lead to the development of a service gap where the difference between what the public wants from its police and the police want to give the public becomes wider. Photos and references