Policing across the World: Issues for the Twenty-First Century

Policing across the World: Issues for the Twenty-First Century

Policing across the World: Issues for the Twenty-First Century

Policing across the World: Issues for the Twenty-First Century

Synopsis

This text provides an overview of policing across different societies, and considers the issues facing the US and British police in an international context. The book is designed as an introduction to the police and the challenges they face.

Excerpt

DAVID H.BAYLEY

The comparative study of the police is viewed as an exotic frill in the professional study of criminal justice. It is a marginal enterprise thought to be difficult, if not impossible, to do and yielding little of value. This invidious position stems from the fact that ‘comparative’ has been made synonymous in academic circles with ‘foreign’. Foreign experience is not considered central to any discipline I know, with the possible exception of history. Thus the major academic disciplines have sub-sections entitled comparative economics, comparative sociology, comparative political science, and now comparative criminal justice, all devoted to the study of things abroad. Doubts about the usefulness of foreign study arise from the fact that international differences are perceived to be so great as to bear no relation to one’s own national or local experience. ‘You can’t compare those countries,’ one frequently hears, ‘they’re too different.’ So comparative study is dismissed as an excuse for international travel; a luxury that serious social scientists leave to dilettantes.

The purpose of this chapter is to show that these views about comparative study, in this case about the police, are the result of muddled thinking. Comparative study is thoroughly mainstream in any significant intellectual way; it can indeed be done successfully, and there are substantial reasons for doing so.

The Centrality of Comparison

The association of ‘comparison’ with ‘foreign’ creates the impression that comparative study is a choice that social science has. One may be mainstream and noncomparative or idiosyncratic and comparative. This is nonsense. All science is comparative in the sense of depending upon analysis of multiple cases. Science is the systematic . . .

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