Working with private policing to enhance public policing: the case of the United Kingdom

Mark Button*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


In the UK, public police are dwarfed by a substantial private policing sector that includes in-house provision, commercial for fee providers and Non-Governmental Organisations. The contribution of private policing ranges from the uncontroversial provision of uniformed security in private spaces such as shopping centres, office complexes and pleasure parks; the more controversial provision of prior state delivered services through contracts, such as police custody; to the more hidden functions of investigating fraud, corruption, and cybercrime. A patchwork of partnerships, official schemes and statutory interventions have emerged to frame these initiatives. This paper explores them through a typology. These will include state facilitation where the state has created standards and schemes to enable the public and private sectors to develop partnerships to better work together. This includes regulatory initiatives such as the regulation of private security, among others. Second there is state delegation, where the private sector has been brought in to deliver state functions but seeks to control the relationship. This includes the contracting out of prisoner transport and custody suites. Finally, there has been state reinforcement where from a position of weakness, the state has either acquiesced to, or even encouraged the growth of private contributions to fill the gap. This includes working with the private sector to enhance the policing of fraud and cybercrime. Such reinforcement has also varied in the degree to which the state controls and influences such capacity. This chapter will explore these in more depth offering detailed examples and critically evaluate these initiatives.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook on Public and Private Security
EditorsErwin Blackstone, Simon Hakim, Brian J. Meehan
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9783031424069
ISBN (Print)9783031424052, 9783031424083
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2023

Publication series

NameCompetitive Government: Public Private Partnerships
VolumePart F1694
ISSN (Print)2524-4183
ISSN (Electronic)2524-4191

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