Academic journal article Canadian Review of Sociology

From Community to Public Safety Governance in Policing and Child Protection

Academic journal article Canadian Review of Sociology

From Community to Public Safety Governance in Policing and Child Protection

Article excerpt

IN THE 1990s, PUBLIC POLICING AND child protective agencies oriented their missions to service "communities." For the police, community policing promised to address the root causes of crime through public consultation. For child protective agencies, the empowerment of case workers promised to engender flexibility and community responsibility over child abuse and/or neglect. For the most part, policing and child protection were disparate governmental functions. The police ideally addressed crime and child workers ideally helped children "in need." Moreover, the community orientation of policing and child protection did not engender intraagency or interagency relations (nor was this an issue). Their emphasis upon community service provision engendered atomism.

Both public policing (see O'Malley and Palmer 1996) and child protection (see Parton 2008; cf. Rose 1996a) are governmental enterprises that have been highly influenced by broader shifts and trends in liberalism. Among the more recent trends has been the development of community-based governance. Indeed, scholars have generally agreed that there has been a significant transformation from the welfare state (which grew to prominence following World War II) to what writers have commonly referred to as neoliberalism. For example, writing almost two decades ago, Rose and Miller (1992) argued that criticisms against welfare in the 1970s (1) have led to its gradual demise (cf. Rose 1996b). In its place, particularly in the 1990s, the neoliberal state focused on risk management, "in a way that governs communities as participating in the management of these risks, and not relying on the state for any particular form of ... expertise" (Levi 2000:581). Governmental expertise was thus increasingly tied to the community, and by the 1990s, public policing and child protection (along with other governmental institutions) emphasized local service provision through community engagement.

By looking at the official discourses of the growing interoperability between public policing and child protection in Canada and the United Kingdom, we hypothesize that we are in the midst of a subtle yet significant governmental shift away from community and toward public safety governance. Our paper's raison d'etre stems from our observation that discourses emphasizing local/community expertise in policing and child protection have largely muted because of repeated criticisms over the lack of interagency interconnectedness. (2) As a result, Canada and the United Kingdom have developed national interagency databases for the identification and management of at-risk or high-risk persons. The institutional integration of child protection and public policing in this manner yields a different kind of governmental knowledge, and hence engenders different forms of social regulation. We are cognizant that at present this transformation is still in its infancy. Yet the specific case of policing and child protection seems to represent a broader social and governmental trend toward agency integration. (3) In our discussion, we thus briefly highlight the relationship between public safety governance and expertise. While we conclude that greater research is required to decipher how the growth of agency networks transforms subjectivities and intergovernmental relationships, conceptually, we make the case that public safety governance, rather than being integral to the expanse of the neoliberal state, is instead emerging as a new rationality of Western governance. (4)

COMMUNITY GOVERNANCE

Stemming perhaps from the late 1960s in the sphere of child protection, organizational discourses emphasized the virtues of community service provision. In Canada, the 1969 report of the Commission of Emotional and Learning Disorders in Children (CELDIC) noted that services for children had become too scattered through different governmental departments and various philanthropic organizations. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.