Peter 'Tank' Waddington


Paul Rock remembers Peter ('Tank') Waddington




Peter ('Tank') Waddington


Peter ('Tank') Waddington had been seriously ill for some time before dying in hospital on the 21st of March from a heart attack from which he never recovered. Tank joined the City of Birmingham Police as a cadet in 1963 and left as a constable six years later. He was to be awarded an external University of London degree in 1969 and an MA in 1970 and doctorate in 1977 from the University of Leeds. He became a Professor of Sociology and then of Politics at the University of Reading before moving to Wolverhampton University in 2005. On retirement he became a Visiting Professor at the Mannheim Centre.

Tank was a man with a passion for understanding and remodelling policing in England and overseas (he was, for example, a  member of the International Panel testifying before the Goldstone Commission in South Africa). His distinguishing traits always were a commitment to scholarship and a freedom from cant and orthodoxy, exercising an often brave and remarkable critical intelligence. His 'Mugging as a "Moral Panic": A Question of Proportion', published in the British Journal of Sociology in 1986, forever punctured some of the claims made in Policing the Crisis. His "In proportion: race, and police stop and search" (with Kevin Stenson, and David Don), published in the British Journal of Criminology 2004, forced a reappraisal of some of the lazier arguments that were then in vogue about the police practice of stop and search. His best studies were probably Liberty and Order: Policing Public Order in a Capital City, published in 1994, and Calling the Police, published in 1993. Both were utterly original and revelatory analyses of police work. Towards the end of his life he concentrated on deploying innovatory methods to explore a number of the more intractable contradictions of police work, most notably in Professional Police Practice: Scenarios and Dilemmas, published in 2013.
Although he was always stalwart in promoting and defending an argument, Tank was a modest and amiable man, more prepared to bestow praise on his colleagues and collaborators than to accept it himself. He was a model of kindness and courtliness, a loving husband and a good friend, and I shall miss him greatly.
Paul Rock

Emeritus Professor of Social Institutions, Department of Sociology, LSE