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Who governs?: democracy, plutocracy, science and prophecy in policing

Reiner, Robert (2013) Who governs?: democracy, plutocracy, science and prophecy in policing. Criminology and Criminal Justice, 13 (2). pp. 161-180. ISSN 1748-8958

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Identification Number: 10.1177/1748895812474282


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 analysed 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.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2013 The Author
Divisions: Law
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Sets: Departments > Law
Research centres and groups > Mannheim Centre for Criminology
Date Deposited: 19 Apr 2013 12:10
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 02:02

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