Democratising police governance? A critical reflection on the likely impact of Police and Crime Commissioners

Wood, D. and Furness, M. (2012) Democratising police governance? A critical reflection on the likely impact of Police and Crime Commissioners. In: British Society of Criminology, 4th-6th July 2012, University of Portsmouth.

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The aim of this paper is to engage with the debate concerning the extent to which the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC) across England and Wales in November 2012 will democratise police accountability. It seeks to challenge the idea that democratising police accountability can be reduced to a simple matter of giving people a vote in deciding who will be responsible for holding a chief constable to account. The much debated dangers of introducing party politics into the police accountability mechanisms are considered in this respect. Alternative aspects of democratic thinking are considered in the paper, ones that provide a richer understanding of giving people a more meaningful and direct role in how chief constables are held to account. The democratic notions of ‘involvement’ and ‘empowerment’ are considered as they apply in relation to police governance understood more broadly within a liberal democratic context. The potential of illiberal democratic tendencies developing within policing are highlighted, especially where a narrow focus on populist democratic thinking dominates within police accountability mechanisms. The central argument in the paper is that democratising police accountability in a meaningful way requires greater involvement of key stakeholders within communities, especially those most likely to be affected by police actions. Examples of such stakeholders are identified within a particular English community, in which an empirical study will be conducted at a later stage by one of the authors. This paper seeks to contribute to the criminological literature on police accountability and governance within liberal democratic settings.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology > HV7551-8280.7 Police. Detectives. Constabulary
Divisions: pre Nov-2014 > Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences > Law and Criminal Justice Studies
Depositing User: Dominic Wood
Date Deposited: 29 Nov 2012 15:50
Last Modified: 11 Dec 2014 14:10

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00