police

police
   The tactics of the police for controlling public disorders, such as the 1981 city riots, industrial disputes (such as at Orgreave in 1984) and the environmental protests of the mid-1990s, have been criticized as over-violent and militaristic. The persistence of sexism and racism in the ranks has also been identified as a reason why sections of the population distrust the police. Notoriously, the over-policing of ethnic minorities in the inner cities prompted widespread disturbances in the 1980s. In the last twenty years, the police have adapted to financial hardship in a period of reduced public spending, in three ways. First, there has been a ‘civilianization’ of non-essential services so as to free up police officers. Second, in some areas the police have relied on closed circuit television cameras. Last, private agencies have been contracted to provide police services.
   There has therefore been a reduction in police services, which have been taken over by private security companies (in 1994 there were for the first time more private security officers than police officers). This has led some to conclude that the experiment in public policing is now ending, and police services will return to the traditional private organization of law and order. Despite this, the police enjoy the popular support of the general public, who approved of organizational initiatives such as community policing and campaigns against property crime such as ‘Operation Bumble Bee’, which was launched against domestic burglary in 1995. Television crime drama programmes such as The Bill and Inspector Morse have also demonstrated the popularity of ‘England’s finest’.
   See also: armed forces and police
   Further reading
    Reiner, R. (1992) The Politics of the Police, 2nd edn, Hemel Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf.
   BARRY GODFREY

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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