Give and take: the bifurcation of police reform in Britain

Steve Savage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Police reform is high on the agenda of many societies, both developed and developing. In the early years of the 21st century, police reform in Britain became a central feature of the Labour Government's strategy on crime, and what followed was a reform agenda that by any measure could be deemed ‘radical’. This paper examines the contemporary agenda for police reform in Britain in terms of two paradoxical movements. On the one hand, at the strategic and policy levels, police reform has entailed the ‘disempowerment’ of the police sector, a loss of control and a diminution of authority over decision-making relating to policing. On the other hand, at the operational and ‘street’ levels, police reform has entailed the ‘empowerment’ of the police sector, a widening of police discretion and an enhancement of the authority of the police officer as a community actor. The article examines the processes underpinning this paradox and locates them firmly within the contradictions inherent in the politicisation of crime and policing and the critical status of the public police within the politicisation of crime.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-334
Number of pages22
JournalThe Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology
Volume40
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007

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