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Who Governs? Democracy, Plutocracy, Science and Prophecy in Policing

NCJ Number
Criminology & Criminal Justice Volume: 13 Issue: 2 Dated: April 2013 Pages: 161-180
Robert Reiner
Date Published
April 2013
20 pages
This article analyses two key debates about police and policing in England and Wales.
This article critically analyses two key debates about police and policing: the problematic definition of their role, and how they can be rendered democratically accountable. Both issues have been radically altered through the profound transformation of policing produced by the last three decades of neo-liberal hegemony. The article focuses on how this has developed in England and Wales, although there are parallels with other jurisdictions. The complex role of the police has been distilled down to criminal catching. Accountability has become accountancy, under the auspices of New Public Management. The current British Coalition government's tendentious 'austerity' measures make these perennial problems especially acute. The Coalition purports to be democratizing police accountability through elected Police and Crime Commissioners. These claims are critically analyzed in principle, but how they work out in practice is hard to prophesy. It is suggested they may play out in ways that frustrate their architects' hopes, due to the continuing baleful consequences of neoliberalism. Abstract published by arrangement with Sage Journals.