Theories of Law in Policing
the whole subject of the triangle of criminal, copper and the courts is so intricate, practically and philosophically, that it can't possibly be explained in a short answer ( MacInnes 1974: 98).
In literature and debates on policing, it is possible to distinguish three significant conceptions of the relationship between policing and legal rules: legalistic-bureaucratic; culturalist; and structural. This Chapter provides a critical analysis of them. They are not formal conceptual models: works to which reference is made seldom fit neatly within these categorizations, and the examples are not intended to provide an exhaustive taxonomy. Rather, the intention is to draw attention to a variety of emphases in policing studies. This Chapter will outline these conceptions, paying particular attention to a variety of structural accounts. The concluding chapter will return to these themes in an attempt to synthesize and develop elements of them.
At the heart of the legalistic-bureaucratic conception are beliefs that law is the major determinant of police activity and that police institutions conform to an efficient bureaucratic model, in which senior officers are able to direct the activities of their subordinates by means of training, policy statements, and internal regulation.
Legalism suggests that, in order to understand policing, we need only or primarily to look at the laws governing it. Such a conception occurs in several, related accounts. It is the 'common sense' of traditional legal and constitutional material on the police, in which accounts of what the police ought to do are presented as if they were descriptions of practice: in the cruder formulations, what the law says is what the police do. Legalism has often characterized the selfpresentation of police organizations: a central tenet of the police