The importance of liberal values within policing: police and crime commissioners, police independence and the spectre of illiberal democracy

Wood, D. (2016) The importance of liberal values within policing: police and crime commissioners, police independence and the spectre of illiberal democracy. Policing and Society: An International Journal of Research and Policy, 26 (2). pp. 148-164. ISSN 1043-9463.

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Abstract

The introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC) in England and Wales has reignited discussions about police governance. This paper contributes to these debates by focusing on the role liberal values play within liberal democratic ideals of policing. It suggests, policing principles historically have been informed primarily by liberal goals; that is to say these principles are liberal before they are democratic. Policing in England and Wales today, however, is increasingly informed by democratic values at the expense of liberal principles. The spectre of illiberal democracy is considered here as a warning in light of this development. The paper argues that there is a growing disparity between the rhetoric of liberal policing principles, historically rooted in pre-democratic times, and the reality of contemporary policing in societies that are increasingly sensitive to democratic expectations. Police independence is used to illustrate this argument. Police independence is still revered in rhetoric today, but the liberal origin of this concept is not recognised. But the idea that the police should retain a degree of freedom from political interference makes sense from a liberal perspective, one that is increasingly difficult to defend as liberal values decline in importance, and democratic aspirations come to the fore. The paper concludes by suggesting that liberal values are, on the one hand, increasingly difficult to accommodate within contemporary ideas of policing, but are at the same time becoming more necessary, especially following the introduction of PCCs.

Item Type: Article
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: 09 Sep 2016 14:18
Last Modified: 21 Sep 2016 09:23
URI: https://create.canterbury.ac.uk/id/eprint/13233

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