Handbook of Policing

Handbook of Policing

Handbook of Policing

Handbook of Policing


This new edition of the Handbook of Policing updates and expands the highly successful first edition, and now includes a completely new chapter on policing and forensics. It provides a comprehensive, but highly readable overview of policing in the UK, and is an essential reference point, combining the expertise of leading academic experts on policing and policing practitioners themselves.


Tim Newburn

Image and reality

Social scientific literature is now dominated by discussions of globalisation, risk, new forms of modernity and cognate terms. Though varied in focus, what this literature shares is a concern with understanding what is perceived to be the very significant and rapid changes affecting our society and those around us. These changes – however described – permeate all aspects of public life, including policing. What is in little doubt is that we live in complex times. That the police play a central role in the maintenance of order is rarely questioned. Most opinion polls asking questions about security return the finding that the public appetite for ‘more bobbies on the beat’ remains undimmed. Yet, it is also the case that people are now much more sceptical about the abilities of the police than once would have been the case and are likely to be much more critical about their interactions with police officers. Writing in the inter-war years Charles Reith, in his ‘orthodox’ history of the police, suggested that, ‘What is astonishing … is the patience and blindness displayed both by citizens and authority in England over a period of nearly a hundred years, during which they persistently rejected the proposed and obvious police remedy for their increasing fears and sufferings’ (1938: v, emphasis added). It is rarer now for policing to be viewed as an obvious remedy for the problems that confront us for, as Reiner (2000: 217) notes, ‘police and policing cannot deliver on the great expectations now placed on them in terms of crime control’. Nevertheless, there remains considerable residual faith in this particular state institution.

It is worth reminding ourselves that public constabularies, in the sense we now know them, are less than two centuries old. Though there has only been concentrated scholarly attention on policing for a small part of that period, the police and policing are now a staple of sociological, criminological and popular discourse. There was considerable resistance to the introduction of the new police in the nineteenth century and, indeed, it was not until the mid-twentieth century that anything like a broad degree of social legitimacy . . .

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