Paper Example on UK Police Accountability

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Harvey Mudd College
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The utilization of excessive force by law enforcement officers in the United Kingdom has brought about numerous concerns on the dynamic that exists between citizens and police. The ideal law enforcement of the 21st century consists of fair policing that entails an accountable police force, one which obeys the law, respects the dignity of the people it serves and only encroaches into the lives of citizens under specific and limited situations. Policing in the UK has grown and changes in the past thirty years to get to this ideal. The adjustments include the kind of people recruited into the force, management of civilian relations and the kind of technologies in use. These changes have had both positive and negative ramifications. The heavy-handed treatment of the citizens by the police is among the reasons that Roger Graef feels despaired after watching the police transition over the thirty years. This is a residualisation perspective (McLaughlin, 2007).

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The law enforcement had a shaky beginning in the nineteenth century and grew widely over the years with the chime that they were essential for law and order maintenance which in turn created social order due to the welfare provided by the state. Governments and the neoliberal economics did away with the welfare state, and from then there was the police downfall (Reiner, 2012). The police work in an environment that is not only dangerous but also hostile (McLaughlin 2007). This makes them have the imperative of protecting themselves which leads to the US versus UK attitude where the need to protect each other and themselves comes at the expense of ethical, legal or formal considerations.


The police service as it is known in the present time has a long history. It was created by the English society in the twenty-first centurys first quarter. The place where it originated is enough evidence that England at that time was way more advanced in the development path compared to the rest of the states. After some time the model was taken up I all other places though with modifications here and there as needed by varying traditions and the differing political organizations. In the years after the piece of Vienna in 1815, the UK society was dogged by an alarming height of criminality rates in the towns. People of London experienced a series of major crimes, and this led to them coming up with a variety of means to put the vices under control, the police force under the executive arm was one way.

In the United Kingdom, detection and prevention of crime in addition to preservation of the general public peace has been the major function of the police since its creation. However, in real practice, the law enforcement agents spend a noteworthy part of their time carrying out other functions such a response to emergencies, protection of the vulnerable individuals, terrorism prevention. They are also summoned to handle the situations that are characterized as something-that-ought-not-to-be-happening-and about- which-someone-had-better-do-something now (Waddington, 2007). A twenty-four-hour long test on Twitter carried out by Greater Manchester police in 2010 depicted graphically the reality on the ground which is the fact that police are the first resort for the public for greater than a third of all the incidences they are called to every day being social oriented and not related to crime.

A review of policing by Ronnie Flanagan (2008) was of the suggestion that in the last ten years or so, the demand for the police by the general public led to the mission by the police service becoming wider and wider and a tad and the more difficult. This is because the police are required to respond to issues that should be under normal circumstances attended to by other agencies. Again, this phenomenon has been accompanied by an unpredicted elevation of police resources and powers. At the same time the police service image as being majorly dealing with control of crime go on to shape policy and general public expectations of the service roles and the rank and file comprehensions of heir function (Reiner, 2010). In spite of the larger mandate and its mission getting expanded, the police service has been judged majorly in the past thirty years based on how effective it can carry out its operations in tackling of crime. It continues to be judged in the same way to date.

The old times approach to policing involves allocation of resources in a jurisdiction to take care of all kinds of crimes. This approach is reactive instead of being proactive and is in favour of deterring crime through enforcement of law instead of considering the varying patterns of crime across space and time. There are four strategies in this approach, and they are intensive enforcement, detection, and investigation, stop and search, random patrols and response.

Public Order Policing and Police Use Of Force Problems

Use of force by the police is a big and contentious issue in policing matters because the ability to utilize coercion or force goes deep into the police role (Rappert, 2007) In addition to that, (Crawshaw, Culllen & Williamson, 2008) say that "the application of unlawful force by the police can result in gross violations of human rights, including, ultimately, breaches of the right to life." Due to this, this topic receives a lot of attention in regards to policing during public disorder considering statutes that are in place and address the principle of use of minimum force being the most important in the judgment of whether the police service has done the right thing in the use of force to coerce.

In the G20 summit 2009, reports accused the police of having violated peoples civil rights, they detained individuals illegally and used too much force. The report was done by an independent police watchdog in Ontario and blasted the makeshift detention centre that the law enforcement put up for pathetic, operation, design and planning that left people detained for no reason and released without charge.

In another case, protestors came together at a local precinct after a police officer shot a black man in North London 2011. The police mishandled this protest, and it resulted to looting and violence. There was disorder all over, and it spread from London to Birmingham, Liverpool, Nottingham, Manchester and Salford.

An analysis of the riots was done to utilize social science for the engagement of the general population and debates done in public concerning the unrests and ensure individuals learn about the riots. It was also important to do an investigation on how valid assumptions made about the riots were. Reading the riots indicated that anger with the law enforcement officers was motivated in the first days of the riots.

After the disturbances in Brixton in April, the Home Secretary at the time, appointed Lord Scarman to probe fast into the disorder in Brixton. Some recommendations were made to the police force which included changes in law enforcement and training and the efforts to add more ethnic minorities into the force. Lord Scarman also emphasized on how essential it was to deal with racial discrimination and disadvantage. Immediate action was recommended to ensure that disadvantages as a result of race did not become widespread and threaten societal survival.

Race and Policing

The report done by Macpherson made a recommendation on some measures that would leave the police force to a larger control of the public, incorporate rights for crime victims and add on to the number of crimes that are considered racist. Freedom of race relations and information laws would also apply to the law enforcement agents Macpherson (1998). In a report one to parliament to assess changes, all who witnessed made a recognition that the police had progressed towards handling racial discrimination and prejudice since this report (Rowe, 2007).

However, the police had failed in several aspects concerning ethnic minorities (Bowling & Phillips, 2003). Mr Philip was of the argument that a big problem still existed in relation to Stop and search (Bowling & Phillips 2007). A black individual was six times more likely to be stopped and searched under section 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

Occupational Culture

Police culture understanding depends a lot on ethnographies done in the past decades. As the police service tries to align changing professional standards with a new reputation as a service as opposed to force, scholars have embarked on the re-examination of a police culture together with its impacts on reform efforts (Stenning, 2009). Policing that is community oriented needs transforming of individual values and attitude of an officer aiming for police work that is proactive and which engages an entire community as alluded in the 1980s by John Alderson (Brain, 2010).It is argued however that there is minimal evidence to this point that values which are community orientated have integrated into the police thought process (Waters, 2000). This could imply that there will be a snails progress towards the wanted image of law enforcement of a tolerant and open organization (Davies & Thomas, 2003).

Chapter seven of ethnographic studies by Bethan Loftus on the English police force bring to light the contradiction that came up between the enduring class axis and the new emphasis by police on diversity. The study notes that efforts aimed at changing the culture of police in and out of the organizations major on notions of anti-discrimination, equity and recognition of diversity for sexuality, gender, and race. However, the primary position of the law enforcement workload was predominantly occupied by the low status and poor white males. The author talks about the contempt that exists towards the low class and which involves an important but invest gated police culture aspect. This aspect is the fact that police officers mainly viewed themselves as protectors of a significant majority from an underclass that is worthless morally. This furthered their solidarity sense and highlighted a common enemy.


In the examination of managerialism among the police force, it is noted that high-ranking police are not viewed as leaders anymore but as managers (Reiner, 2010). The major challenges they face are organizational growth, internal communications, and budgeting. There is minimal leaning towards leadership in totality.

Thatcherism is also essential in the political context. Margaret Thatcher appointed Ian Macgregor in 1982 to chair the coal board. The resolute and tough Scottish American manager planned to close the mines which were at the time unprofitable. The board stored large quantities of coals secretly at the steel mills and the generating plants which are the main coal users. At the time Thatcher came up with an agency that was capable of mobilizing law enforcement in the entire Britain to put to an end any illegal acts such as violence, mass picketing, and secondary strikes.

The Midlands mines were profitable, and the workers there did not have the will to challenge the coal board. The miners in the unprofitable mines gave up their jobs for generous hand-outs. In 1984, Arthur Scargill, the chair of the National Union of Mineworkers called a riot, gangs of striking individuals attempted to stop coal entry into the power plants while others got into the operating mines and sparked violence. This made the police intervene, and the opinion of the public favored the police action. The strike came to an end, and Scargill was defeated in March 1985 (Richards, 1996.).

Police Accountability

Police accountability alludes to the important query of who policies the law enforcement agents. It is not possible to have good governance without a police force that is accountable. The force...

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