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Transformations of Policing

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Alistair Henry, David J Smith (eds)
Ashgate Publishing (21 March 2007)

In a variety of ways policing has been transformed in the 23 years since the publication of Police and People in London, still the most detailed study of a police force in Britain. The whole field has expanded through the rapid growth of policing beyond the police and the transnational dimension of policing.

Widening police powers in response to terrorism and rising crime have been accompanied by efforts to bring policing more firmly within the control of the law. Emerging techniques and technologies open up new possibilities for control through information-based, forward-looking and preventive styles of policing. Increasingly, government uses new public management methods and insists on measures of performance. Meanwhile, crime control policy has become the focus for intense competition between political parties. In this book, leading authors discuss these changes and try to explain why confidence in the police has declined even as crime, which rose for more than a century, has started to go down.

In the final chapter, David Smith argues that the police are faced by new challenges to their legitimacy. They should not respond by claiming to be effective on their own in reducing crime or maintaining order. Instead they should establish themselves as a profession with distinctive standards and values, and should appeal for trust based on what they are and stand for, not what they can achieve.

  • Alistair Henry is based in the School of Law at the University of Edinburgh, UK, and a member of the Centre for Law and Society.
  • David Smith is a visiting professor at LSE's Mannheim Centre for Criminology and honorary professor of criminology at the University of Edinburgh.


'Twenty five years ago Police and People in London was a major landmark in British police research, the most extensive empirical study of a force to be conducted in this country. This collection of essays from distinguished scholars from around the world assesses the changes since then. It provides provocative and informative interpretations, evidence and argument, and will be of interest and value to anyone seeking to understand contemporary policing.'
Professor Robert Reiner, LSE

Book launch

The Mannheim Centre for Criminology at LSE hosts the launch of this publication on Wednesday 21 March. Alistair Henry and David Smith will speak with Tim Newburn, LSE, chairing the event. This event is from 6.30-7.45pm (drinks from 6pm) in the Graham Wallas Room, Fifth Floor, Old Building, LSE, open to all.

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