What do the police do? Do they exist to protect the interests of the powerful?
People often only notice the mistakes the police make, and the media is often plagued with examples of police misconduct. As a result the police have always been criticised and are constantly under scrutiny (Newburn, 2013). Ever since the 1960’s this has misconduct has been the case. The police are assumed to be an “organisation” tasked with reforming criminal procedure. However Reiner (2010) questioned whether the police were actually a “political representation” whose focus was to maintain the interest of the powerful, against the majority of the opposing working class. On the other hand Reiner also offered the alternate view of that the police were actually an organisation whose focus was to benefit and protect everyone. Before the Police Act of 1964, there were two main systems of governance. The first being of that in rural areas, where committees of magistrates acted as the chief officer role and were given freedom upon their how they decided to operate and deploy their force. Compared to the system in urban areas, were local councillors formed a watch committee, and they were in charge of the local forces and their operations, an example of one of these forces is West Yorkshire Police, these forces became known as Borough police forces, and the Chief Officer was either the Executive officer of the Watch Committee or the Superintendent (Newburn, 2012). Then the Police Act of 1964 was introduced, the act combined the two systems into a new one. This new system was over watched by the, Home secretary, Local Police Authority, and the Chief Constable creating an “equal triangle” between the three parties. This “Equal triangle” meant that each party had equal power and equal opportunities to use this power how they saw fit, however this caused problems as academics stated that this was false, and that Chief constable and Home Secretary had more power than the local authorities did. In addition the police act made the Chief Constable in charge of how the police force were directed and controlled. This in turn meant that the local authority had less influence and power. In the 1970’s there was many cases in which the local authority attempted to use and show what little power and influence they had. Marshall and Reiner stated that this outlook was somewhat simplistic and proposed their own theory on the matter. Marshall and Reiner proposed that the police are allowed to look, and ask for information and answers after an incident as has occurred, and the political authority are able to use their power to control and manage the police service in order to solve, contain, or manage the incident or event. In the 1990’s, Reiner added to his theory and named it “Calculative and contractual” model. Reiner noticed that around this time the government became more financially motivated. In particular with policing, the government started using techniques in financial and performance managing. This meant that the police service had to become more cost effective and efficient. In 1994 the “Police and magistrates act” was introduced to change and reform how the police were governed. One of the main parts of the acts was introduced to reduce the amount of magistrates and councillors elected, in addition the act aimed at making police authorities become independent of the local authorities (Newburn, 2012) Furthermore the police service changed their role motto, from providing and “adequate and efficient” to that of an “Efficient and effective” service. The changes also made the police report their annual statistics and plan their performance targets for the next annual year, these publications were compulsory. However these changes were heavily criticised and it was suggested that the police service had become economically motivated and orientated. As the statistics were put into league tables as were the key performance indicators. This led to performance...
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