Police-Public Relations: Interpretations of Policing and Democratic Governance

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    “The public” is a central concept in the legitimization of modern policing. Yet the definition of “the public” and the meaning of “public-oriented policing” have changed over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries with great variations between countries. This essay critically analyses the dichotomy which has often been established between police-public relations in Anglo-American contexts, as the model of public-oriented “democratic policing”, as opposed to police public relations in continental Europe. With examples from Britain, US, France and Germany across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, this essay makes two key points: first, that interpretations by historians and police scholars of the nature of police-public relations have been fundamentally influenced by sympathies or antipathies of the political regime they served; secondly, that the positive appreciation among scholars for the principles behind the Anglo-American ideal of police-public relations have often been accepted uncritically. Instead examples from France and Germany open wider questions about the impact of democratization on police-public relation, the consequences of locally organized police on evenhanded and responsive policing, and the influence of military features in policing on violence in police-public relations.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publication The Oxford Handbook of the History of Crime and Criminal Justice
    EditorsPaul Knepper, Anja Johansen
    Place of PublicationOxford
    PublisherOxford University Press
    ISBN (Print)9780199352333
    Publication statusPublished - 2 May 2016

    Publication series

    NameOxford Handbooks in Criminology and Criminal justice
    PublisherOxford University Press


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