Police, governance and the private finance initiative

Les Johnston*, Mark Button, Tom Williamson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper, drawing on semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders, examines the impact of the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) on police in England and Wales with the specific aim of subjecting recent debates about the alleged ‘dispersed’ or ‘distanciated’ nature of state rule to critical analysis. In order to do this we draw on Shearing's (2005) distinction between ‘state anchored’ and ‘corporate-anchored’ pluralism to argue two points: that the ‘rule at a distance’ strategies, so central to ‘state-anchored’ pluralism, are sometimes difficult to achieve; and that the boundary between ‘state-anchored pluralism’ and ‘corporate-anchored pluralism’, far from being absolute, is permeable. Indeed, evidence from the application of the PFI to policing suggests that ‘state-anchored’ pluralism has the potential to mutate into ‘corporate-anchored’ pluralism thus indicating the potential instability of strategies of distanciated state rule.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-244
Number of pages20
JournalPolicing and Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2008


  • Corporate-anchored pluralism
  • Nodal governance
  • Private Finance Initiative
  • Rule at a distance
  • State-anchored pluralism


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