Private Security and Public Policing

Private Security and Public Policing

Private Security and Public Policing

Private Security and Public Policing


In this first major empirical study of its kind, the authors examine the growth of 'private' policing and its relationship with, and implications for, the public police service. Beginning with a critique of the sociology of policing, the authors then provide a detailed analysis of the concepts of public and private, and examine the boundaries between different forms of policing. Using data from the first ever survey of the private security sector in Britain, the authors provide estimates of the numbers of employees and firms in the industry; the range of services and products offered; and the attitudes of those at senior levels in private security organizations. Competiting theoretical explanations for the growth of private policing are then considered. The book then examines policing at the local level. Using a case study of the London Borough of Wandsworth, the authors examine the range of individuals and organizations involved in policing on the ground. They describe and analyse the activities of the full range of 'policing' bodies, including the public police force, investigatory and regulatory agencies attached to national and local government, and private security organizations. Using this analysis, the authors offer a thorough reconceptualization of what is meant by 'policing' in the late modern era, and consider the implications of this for the public police service and for the future of policing generally.


The Clarendon Studies in Criminology series was inaugurated in 1994 under the auspices of centres of criminology at the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford and the London School of Economics. There was a view that criminology in Britain and elsewhere was flowing with interesting work and that there was scope for a new dedicated series of scholarly books. The intention, declared Roger Hood, its first general editor, was to 'provide a forum for outstanding work in all aspects of criminology, criminal justice, penology, and the wider field of deviant behaviour.' We trust that that intention has been fulfilled. Fourteen titles have already been published, covering policing; prisons and prison administration; gender and crime; the media reporting of crime news, and much else, and others will follow.

Private Security and Public Policing is a valuable addition to the Clarendon series. Jones and Newburn have produced a meticulous, lucid and comprehensive examination of emerging patterns of policing in Britain. They have carefully analysed prevailing assumptions about the dimensions, functions, bonds, boundaries and proportions of private and public policing, and they demonstrate that, although it may be very difficult to make firm assertions about almost any of the issues which can be raised, there is a way forward. They have completed a schematic audit of private and public policing organizations in Britain. And they have tied that analysis into the newly-born criminology of private and public space. Having undertaken a tour d'horizon at the national level, Jones and Newburn proceeded to examine how the structure and geography of police organizations may be examined in one area, the London Borough of Wandsworth, knowing as they did so that they were asking some very big questions about the core character and future of policing.

Private Security and Public Policing is thus a book on many planes, empirical, conceptual, historical, geographical, political and sociological, and all of them go to the heart of what policing is. It deserves to make an appreciable impact.

David Downes and Paul Rock . . .

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