TO WHAT EXTENT HAS RISK AVERSION BECOME A DEFINING FEATURE OF OPERATIONAL POLICING IN LATE MODERNITY? ILLUSTRATE YOUR ANSWER WITH ONE OR TWO EXAMPLES OF CONTEMPORARY POLICE PRACTICE? Whatever happened to those Utopian days of leaving your back door unlocked and open for your neighbours to pop in and out whenever the need arose; to walking along a dark urban street to post a letter without fear of the footsteps behind you? What happened to the policing image of Dixon of Dock Green? Do those community ties with the police still exist or are they just a distant memory and the result of changing times? Something has changed society over the last 30 years in particular; that something now makes our homes into fortresses, it makes walking down a dark road no longer appropriate, perhaps we take the car or an additional friend or even security device. It is questions like these that this essay proposes to address. The essay will not make claim to a precise answer but will look at the challenging viewpoints from theorists in this current field. The focus will initially unfold the change from Modernity to Late Modernity and uncover what Late Modernity means and how it affects our day-to-day lives. The focus will detail the epochs that have led to the arguments for a ‘risk-based society’ in contemporary policing. The notion of a ‘risk society’ will be uncovered by Beck (1992) who provides the impetus that ‘the risk society’ is the new preventative policing; authors such as Ericson and Haggerty (1997) and Brown (2000) will rebut and defend such claims that Beck makes to a risk society.
... fail as it only makes one stronger to confront new obstacles. Risk-taking is something that ... for a better understanding to take place. Without risks, one simply cannot learn, feel, change, grow ... number of people deem this as lifetime risks as they sometimes result to serious failure. ... urbanized contemporary. Although some people tend to make deciding between important commitments and hobbies seem easy ...
Areas of debate will cover the extent of globalization of the police, particularly with reference to terrorism and the global impact of 9/11 tragedy in America. The impact of analyzing the ‘what ifs’ of the future with the aim of preventing crime will be discussed and how policing of today uses modern technology and actuarial based knowledge to predict future policing needs. Arguments for and against such use of knowledge are discussed in relation to current ideologies and discourses in policing. The paradox of technology and science in legitimizing the police are also discussed and the apparent double edged sword of a somewhat cynical and mistrusting society; that we want to live in a free but private setting, yet build a fortress around us, with security devices infringing on our own privacy. The ideology that we ‘as the citizens’ want to know what is occurring in society; yet with that knowledge become ever more fearful or skeptical to what our future holds.
The essay will argue whether we have always lived in a risk society since the establishment of the police in 1829 and perhaps beyond or whether in fact this is a new entity and to what extent risk policing is actually going to affect the way we police in today’s modern society. The essay will conclude by looking at the continuum of risk policing; from the global extreme of 9/11 at one end of the continuum to the local everyday issues that affect the operational police officer in today’s society. The essay will conclude with a round up of some the contemporary debates for and against a risk policed society within an operational setting, and whether the arguments for a unitary risk society stand and if so, do these frameworks actually affect the operational constable. An officer’s power of discretion will be discussed in relation to the argument against and total ized risk policed society, for one that accepts that plurality in policing is perhaps more feasible in today’s ever increasing technological global society. The period of change from Modernity to Late Modernity is argued by sociological and criminological authors to be between the early 20 th Century to the last few decades in the 20 th Century. (Giddens, (1990), Bottoms and Wiles (1997) and Hughes (1998) ).
... regarding the conflict of traditions and the advent of modernity in certain societies. One in particular by Freund and Band- Winterstein (2012 ... Arnado (2012) revolved around the relationship between modernity and gender in a traditional society. One part of the study with the heading ...
From the readings of such authors it is clear that late modernity could be argued to run almost parallel to the breakthroughs in modern technology and science; with that in mind could suggest that the period Late Modernity came into its own from the 1970 s onwards. Bottoms and Wiles (1997) state that modernity arose through the social formations out of the industrialization’s in the 1800 s; crime control during this time was state run and everyday life was lived and worked spatially in a time and place that remained for the most part static. This static nature of modernity produced a sense of community, the churches remained fixed meeting places, people worked and socialized within the same communities; there remained a sense of tradition. (p. ) Beck (1998) argues that it was the loss of this tradition and the ‘end of nature’ that took us into the period of Late Modernity. (Beck’s concepts will be discussed later in the work) that took us into the period of Late Modernity.
Bottoms and Wiles (1997) argue, as does Beck (1998) that tradition was lost when Modernity ended. The principle ‘we ” ve always done it this way… .’ is no longer a strong traditional notion. Today people will try out new ideas and concepts to see if they work, are better or more efficient; we are almost living the experientia lists life. , it is future orientated and therefore based upon a strong sense of trust. Take for example, your traditional family holiday to Clacton, the family have been to the same place, same beach hut and same restaurants every year for the last 30 years.
Tradition almost suggests that you don’t need to rely on trust, you have become the expert on Clacton and its contents. However, with the loss of tradition and the emergence of late modernity the family now want to experiment, want to go to the Caribbean, the problems of anxiety arise now because we don’t know anything about the Caribbean, in fact we don’t even know how that great chunk of metal they call a plane can actually stay in the air. We can now merely rely on the expertise of others only; we trust the travel brochure, we trust the travel agent and most of all we trust the pilot and his / her capabilities. In late modernity, the balance of probabilities exists; the more we trust the expert; the less risky it seems and the less probable it is that the plane will crash.
... to achieve a utopian-like state. This can be achieved by one ... manipulation. The two utopia-like societies have their similarities as well. They both operate independent of other state / country / or province; both ... remain unique in their state of mind, utopia is a mere fantasy. To work around this problem a society must adapt itself ...
This is what Beck (1992) labels ‘the risk society’, with risks, comes the unknown and with the unknown comes fear and anxiety. Giddens (1990) also identifies late modernity from modernity in three similar ways; the pace of change, the scope of change: i. e. globalization, and the nature of modern institutions.
Giddens argues that with the effects of globalization and the fall of tradition, less social control is perhaps inevitable, with control falling to the state rather than on a parochial level. Jones and New burn (2002) distinguish social control in three levels, primary, secondary and tertiary and much like Giddens argue that late modernity has lost the latter two groups. With the reductions in local workgroups, churches, clubs and societies representing the tertiary form of informal social control and likewise reduction in teachers, park-keepers, railway guards and bus conductors representing secondary form of social control, it is easy to see how social control as a whole now remains the problem or issue of the state. So with loss of tradition, we also have a fundamental loss of social control.
Tony Blair: Prime Minister characterized our society in his New Year Speech 2003, he said ‘I cannot recall a time when Britain was confronted, simultaneously, by such a range of difficult and in some cases, dangerous problems’. He went on to list problems, from the confrontation with Iraq and conflict in the Middle East to economic showdown and problems with asylum seeks, that have brought new risks into our lives. ‘All of this means that for many people’, Blair continued, ‘the defining characteristic of the modern world is insecurity. Tough government action at home and abroad was therefore required to contain these risks and make the world a safer place’ (Hume, 2003.
Hume (2003) adds that Blair’s speech was quite clearly shaping the political outlook towards ‘risk and insecurity. For the New Labour government, the doctrine of risk aversion and the precautionary principle has become the nearest equivalent to a moral code. The ontological insecurities are characteristic of late modernity and this is again reiterated by Blair who stated the defining characteristic of the modern world is insecurity’. The notion of a ‘risk society’ will now be discussed, with particular reference to U rlich Beck who pioneered the ideology behind ‘a risk society’.
... justice process was therefore the prevention of crime through this deterrent function. So how does society define a crime? The idea that criminal ... as well. References Collica, K. & Furst, G. (2012). Crime & society. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc. Hostettler, J. (2011). ... policy on crime seems to give it definition when the public can prove that there is a danger to society as ...
Beck’s work will then be put into context within the policing of such a risk society and whether or not this is a new phenomenon or just part of a larger pluralized police service. Beck (1998) has been cited in this piece of work so far by stating that Late Modernity is linked with the end of tradition and the end of nature. This is a very strong statement to issue but when you think of technology and its advances can we actually state that there is anything left in the world that has not been touched by the technological hand; from the genetically modified tomatoes, through to the synthetic materials we now call clothes. Beck’s argument for ‘the end of nature’ appears robust, states that where nature has ended; the risk society begins Giddens (1998, in Franklin) puts this concept quite succinctly ‘a risk society is a society where we increasingly live on a high technological frontier which absolutely no one completely understands and which generates a diversity of possible futures’. (p. 25) Beck (1992) argues that risks and hazards will systematically be produced as part of modernization, what the risk society needs to do is to prevent, minimal ize or distribute them in a way it does not hamper modernization or exceed what is tolerable.
It is a utopia of risk society; not concerned with attaining good, but preventing the worst from happening. Beck likens it to the distribution of the ‘bads’ around society rather than the ‘goods’ (Wood, 2003).
Beck doesn’t state that ‘risk’ per se is new, what he does state is the typology of the risk has changed with time. Much like the risks of the 19 th Century to health; it would be obvious that walking down a street piled high with excrement and urine is going to be risky to your health. However, the risks we face today are not so obvious, do we know our food is sprayed with insecticide that could endanger our health in 20 years time. John Gray (1998) looked at the effect of BSE on the beef industry; the risks are in the public forum now and in therefore relatively in our control; we can decide whether we wish to continue to eat beef or not.
... important in terms of later crime prevented as reducing marijuana use for sixteen-year-old's. Many prevention researchers and practitioners also ... around streets or apartment complexes and report suspicion activity to police. People in cars with cellular phones or CB radios ... against or decrease risk towards engaging in problem behaviors at some later date. This focus on non-crime program outcomes is ...
The BSE crisis did not impact on the individual it had global consequences, the European union refused our meat, which in turn had a major impact on our economy and meat industry. Perhaps the beef industry and regulating government should have risk assessed the impact of the cow eating offal from other dead animals, again just another way where late modernity interferes with nature. Martin Wolloacott (1998) is quoted as saying ‘the lives of the British have become an experiment inflicted upon by the beef industry’ (p. ).
Beck (1992) makes a very concerning point that could environmental meetings in the future develop to an extent that humans on the agenda are regarded as organic material for chemical, biological and technical items on the agenda.
It is an unthinkable scientific advancement, but there again so was picture messaging by mobile phone and genetic engineering 30 years ago. People continue to eat beef now because of the trust issue already raised, we put our trust in the experts, we trust them when they scientize the likelihood of you crashing your car and killing yourself, we are ultimately asking science to legitimize the risks we are taking. We need to be rational and science has the monopoly on rationality, science can give us the probability of us developing asthma or being in a plane crash. We need the knowledge to make that informed decision, however as we shall see later on in this report, knowledge can sometimes bring further anxiety and as Ericson & Haggerty (1997) succinctly quote ‘risk is a fear that proves itself; the fear of cancer, HIV or nuclear war is ever present, there is nothing to fear but the probabilities of fear and it is the experts that have a large part to play here (p. ).
There is an argument above that shows we are living in a ‘risk society’; Blair stated that ‘tough government action was required to contain these risks’ in his New Year Speech 2003 (Hume, 2003, p).
... long-term success in preventing crime is that hard policing is coupled with social crime prevention. Social Crime Prevention This means changing the mind- ... concerted effort by government, in partnership with civil society, to prevent crime before it occurs. But unless we revive a ... virtue of a dare, or a risk-friendly lifestyle. However, the causes of crime seldom operate in isolation. For example, ...
Research from Ericsson and Haggerty (1997) will be put forward to show how the government deals with risk issues in policing, they will argue that modern policing is actuarial and based on information brokering within a risk society. Their ideologies behind their research will be shown and critiqued by Wright (2000) who argues for a more multi-disciplinary approach. The familiar concepts of crime prevention and community policing will be addressed in relation to a risk society and the report will be asking whether this is a new phenomenon or a re-labeled one from history. Policing the risk society has seen the attempt to rebalance the insecurities and fears the public is faced with and these features will be discussed here. The risk society has already presented us with the facts that we now look and police towards future probabilities based on actuarial data. This has presented the police with a number of defining features: the argued switch from law enforcement to crime prevention; the increased use of the police as a broker of knowledge; an increase in constable accountability and paperwork and the return to a community based policing.
Many people will arguably always perceive the police role as one of a crime fighter; whereas, in reality operational policing can be boring and mundane. Clarke and Hough (1984, in Bowling and Foster 2002) showed in their police research that a patrolling officer was likely to pass within 100 yards of a burglary in progress about once in every eight years and even then might not know the offence was occurring or be able to catch the offender. (Bowling and Foster 2002, p, 989) The perception of crime fighting is then not a reality, what is a reality and is a defining feature of the risk society is prevention; it is about the police identifying risks, assessing them and then trying to prevent them. Crime prevention is not a new concept though; the classivist approach in the 18 th century took a future orientated approach; the penal system was based on the criminal risk versus the gains. One of Sir Robert Peel’s primary objectives in the Metropolitan Police in 1826 was the prevention of crime; Hughes (1998, p 33) quoted Peel as saying ‘the absence of crime will be considered the best proof of the complete efficiency of the police’ in a late modern society we are utilizing science and technology to predict future areas of risk and intervene. The history of crime prevention has looked at the classivist approach of preventative deterrence of the crime in the 18 th Century.
In the late 19 th and early 20 th Century there was a shift in crime prevention ideology fro a classivist to positivist approach. ; this approach studied the individual human behavior and crime prevention was based around treatment not punishment, similarly the sociological positivists around the 30 s believed in treating the communities not individuals, many projects were set up in America that proved unsuccessful (See Hughes, 1998 for further readings).
The positivists then concentrated on the cri monogenic family and targeted the whole family for reform and crime prevention. Neither the classivist or positivist approach was a successful crime preventative tool in its own right in modernity. Within late modernity we have seen the scientific ation to crime prevention, late modernity has the ability to scientize, is concerned with predicting offenders and victims and places at risk of crime. Science is even looking for a breakthrough in genetics to see if a person is pre-disposed to criminality.
Hughes (1998, p) reports that research to date has indicated that a criminals autonomic nervous system is less sensitive, however significant these breakthroughs we must err on the side of caution; if eugenics are claiming to identify the ‘dangerous that threaten moral values and social order’ then we have exclusion at its highest form. If the genetic defects identified can not be altered then we have to ask society what it intends to do; eugenics could be a dangerous step backwards that merely repeats the atrocities of Nazi Germany in the second world war when Hitler proclaimed to make a perfect human race. If science in the future brings us this, we will have to question the existence of late modernity; as late modernity professes to base itself on future events, but would simply being repeating the past. The crime prevention shift in late modernity is one to situational crime prevention. We have shown that crime prevention per se is not new, however prisons are proving ineffectual tool for rehabilitating the offender. The utopian view of more police equals less crime is just that, utopian; if we doubled the police does that mean we would come across one burglar every four years, social reforms on their own have proved to be unsuccessful and treatment programmes for offenders are still questionable.
In direct contrast to positivism late modern situational control is concerned not with the offender per se but with the aetiology of crime; two main preventative measures resided, target hardening and surveillance. The effect of situational control puts the responsibility of risk aversion onto the individual rather than society, so although the results are measurable they are not ‘directly’ linked to operational policing. What it does lead to is further community segregation; , social exclusion of the unwanted and a fortress mentality for the classes that can afford it. The ideology of situational crime prevention is arguably a risk preventative measure for the crimes of the streets, but this does not identify all characteristics of crime, it does not address policing the crimes behind doors (i. e. domestics) or the crimes of suites (white collar crime) (Walk late, 1996), so if this is the defining characteristic of a risk society in policing, policing is a much more plural than Beck would perhaps anticipate.
What has however become a defining feature in late modern policing is the multi-agency approach to preventative policing. The responsibility of crime and victimization has not only shifted its onus onto the individual but now also onto outside agencies, such as local councils, social workers. The new multi-agency approach was set up by the state in the 1990 s, although Hughes (1998) has argued how multi-agency this initially was remains to be seen. The police still played the major role and there were severe funding problems in its infancy. Nevertheless, local authorities found themselves equally responsible for crime prevention and community safety, although the approach folded due to lack of funding; the concept lived on and in 1998 Labour introduced the Crime and Disorder Act. A similar multi-agency approach to deal with ‘quality of life’ issues; and similar problems already, Burney (2002) points out that the schemes behind the act are again under funded and underused; Anti-social Behavior Orders are a key concept in this act but as Burney (2002) has revealed they have generated only 518 orders instead of the anticipated 5, 000; what it has generated Burney (2002) states is a state of self-local policing.
We have seen contemporary methods of preventative policing from the target hardening methods of more locks, walkways, cashless society and property marking schemes; we have seen an attempt at a multi-agency approach to deal with nuisance families, and criminal incivilities; we are witnessing a good attempt to reduce the responsibilization of criminality and crime prevention from the state and police to the public and outside agencies. New Labour have stated in their policy (Hughes, p. ) ‘the aim of policing policy should be to create a society better able to police itself through community self help’. Johnson (2000: p 51) has stated that late modernity is defined less by ‘community policing’ than by ‘policing communities of risk’.
Johnson makes a valid point, history has shown that ‘communities’ are no longer the social control over society, communities are fragmented and when we look at diversity issues community policing suggests a ‘one size fits all’, when that clearly is no longer the case in late modernity. How then have the above policing of ‘communities at risk’ in relation to target hardening, surveillance and multi-agencies issues becoming a defining feature of operational policing, if it assumes we are no longer taking responsibility for it? Direct responsibility maybe dispersing, but one has to look at the underlying facets of how we got to those approaches. Ericson and Haggerty (1997) argue these fundamental workings of the police do not actually explain the way in which the police contribute to the regulation, governance and security of the state and that the fulcrum of the risk society comes from the police as communicators of risk (p. ).
Giddens (2000), has identified two types of risk; external risks which are actuarially based where the information comes from the police and secondly; manufactured risks which are dangers we are yet to face and managed through a series of rules, formats and technologies. The police are seemingly influenced by the demands of information from individuals and institutions, such as insurance agencies, financial institutions, motor vehicle agencies to name but a few. This in turn has a direct influence on operational policing; the outside agencies need information and this affects the actual structure of the rules, formats and technologies, which the operational police have to follow. Paperwork and information sharing has become the defining characteristic of operational policing in late modernity, the police have become collators of data and analysers of potential risk. Take for example target-hardening techniques and mentioned previously, in order to be able to specify the target hardening or surveillance techniques work to reduce the risk of crime, we need to collect and interpret data that is collated at street operational level. The result is new rules, formats and technologies; the police are inundated with multiple page forms that they have to fill in for an incident, they then have to fill in another form to say they filled the first form in.
There are always new rules based around law that serves to protect the integrity of an investigation, i. e. Disclosure law. These are internal everyday task to reduce the risk of a future occurrence, a victim, or losing a case a court. Shad gett (1990) summed up the extent to which the risk society has touched the heart of operational policing duties ‘Police officers worked very hard to patrol the streets and keep the peace, they also worked very hard and for much longer durations to ‘patrol the facts’. (p.
These rules and laws and multiple page paperwork produces a police world of accountability, the police just like any other scientist who is trying to claim it is ok to eat beef must make the public trust them. To reduce the fear and anxiety of crime, the police have to gain that trust. It is not surprising that headline cases of injustice in the cases of the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four serve to undermine any trust that we have with the public and outside agencies, this new paper burden is therefore inevitable and important; it will show that all police officers have an audit trail and can account for the work they do.
This in turn will increase the publics or outside organizations that the police are trustworthy and should according to the risk society theory reduce the fear of crime. Ericson and Haggerty (1997) argue that that policing within a risk society has produced this paper burden onto the police, the police become responsible for producing, brokering, analyzing and distributing information, this can only have a defining effect on the day to day duties of an operational police officer; one officer in the Ericson and Haggerty study stated the accident cards they filled out were purely for outside organizations and had nothing to do with the police. The writer would argue differently, the Accident Report Card and Statistics forms are completed in Kent Police for ‘reportable accidents’ only, the data is passed on to outside agencies, this data can then be used to assess the ‘risk’ of insuring the driver again, or alternatively, a safety campaign or alternation to road side furniture, it becomes an actuarial means of preventing further accident or injury to persons or property and future attendance by operational police officers, resulting in less Post Traumatic Stress, less time off work with stress and therefore more time to prevent crime elsewhere. Surveillance is a defining feature of operational policing, both from an internal and external policing view. Internally, police are monitored by every call they take, every time they use a swipe card to get into a door, to satellite navigational systems on patrol cars that can tell a control room exactly where a police patrol is at any given time. Externally, surveillance is a major tool in crime prevention; the most obvious form is the introduction of Closed Circuit Television (CCTV).
CCTV is somewhat of a paradox though in that we strive for liberty and freedom, yet are more than often being followed by a camera whenever we go out shopping or to the pub. CCTV is a multifaceted invention of late modernity, it serves to prevent crime by providing a risk management system to the offender; with CCTV the risk of being identified are increased. It serves to reduce the public’s fear of crime and make them feel safer to walk about the streets in the dark knowing big brother is watching and it also serves as yet another function to gather information that the police can broker out. CCTV has strict regulations regarding Human Rights and data protection, everyone has the right to liberty and freedom, but how far does these rights go. How much do you mind being filmed whilst doing your weekly food shop or shopping for that new jumper? CCTV is a risk aversion tool, it almost seeks to exclude the possible offenders from that supermarket or clothes shop, and it will not exclude you because you are not a risk to the criminal justice system.
It will however exclude you if you believe your human rights are infringed and you don’t want to be filmed, you will shop elsewhere where there are no cameras – but will you feel as safe. CCTV serves to give all members of the public choices, whether it is the increased risk of getting caught or knowing that the ‘probability of being a victim of crime’ in this vicinity is less, therefore it is far more beneficial to shop where there is CCTV. The arguments circulates back to the responsibilization of the citizen. The police have provided the initial data, but the ultimate decision is up to the offender or potential victim.
Surveillance is used overtly like CCTV to incapacitate or exclude. The deterrence-based punishments as discussed earlier are not working, incapacitating the offender is late modernity’s answer to crime control. This may appear at first the ‘soft option’, but when you look at the surveillance the police can have on the potential offender, the police are actually minimizing the risk of re-offending by controlling the time and space they are allowed out; by using bail conditions or electronic tags. The Sex Offenders Register is a good example of surveillance; sex offenders are released from prison, due to the risk of re-offending being minimal and sentence being served out; maybe only 1 in 10 six offenders re-offend. The police still have to risk manage that one, and in order to do, so the sex offenders register was made law for all sex offenders to register their home address, change of name or even if they leave the country for a period of more than two weeks. The penalty for not adhering to this somewhat incapacitating register is a period of imprisonment, the police are therefore able to monitor the risk of potential re-offending quite easily.
The defining characteristics to the risk society in policing are mostly internal when you think about the direct day-to-day effects it has on policing issues. The external features of surveillance are indeed another facet to policing, however quite arguably ones that affect the public, offenders and victims more so than the police. A risk society is based on the fear of probabilities and the police’s defining feature is to provide those probabilities of getting mugged, being burgled or having your car stolen. The police provide the risk data and solutions to minimize crime, it is up to the receiver of that information to act upon it.
Ericsson and Haggerty (1997) argue that communication is the fundamental key to policing in a risk adverse society. The table below lists just a few examples of the defining risk on operational policing in late modernity: Table 1: Information based on research from Ericsson and Haggerty (1997) and Kent Police Operational duties Risk Aversion Method How Operational Police Feature Relation to Risk Architectural Policing and Target Hardening Operational Police produce the data from gathering information With the correct techniques identified, the risk of being a victim or crime being committed is reduced A NPR – Automatic Number plate registration A modern technology used by operational police to provide instant information on a vehicle and its passengers, Used to avert and detect crime Intelligence Reports Made by operational police, disseminated by analysts Producing areas of risks for future initiatives on preventing & detecting crime EGT – Evidence Gathering Teams: Cameras used to film potential offenders and victims by operational police during public disorder and football matches A form of intelligence gathering, : also preventative concept much like CCTV In Car Video Cameras Utilized in gathering evidence on traffic offences, public disorder by operational police Reduce paperwork and provide best evidence, reducing the risk of costly court cases and not guilty pleas Police National Computer Operational police can gain various pieces of information over their personal radios Provides more information to allow operational police to assess the risks of an address or offender. Polaroid’s Used by operational police on vice operations in conjunction with the media. The naming and shaming of men visiting prostitutes as form of crime prevention. Alleviates prostitution in a given area and reduces the public fear of crime Environmental Design: Operational police provide the information to change the environmental design To reduce the risk of crime and victims The above table highlights the everyday features of operational policing that are affected directly and indirectly through the risk society.
There appears to be one salient factor throughout all the features and that is information. Ericsson & Haggerty (1997) argue that the successful nature of risk aversion policing is the flow of information, whether the police obtain for themselves and share the information, whether the information comes from an anonymous caller on Crime stoppers or Crime watch UK. Ericsson & Haggerty agree that late modernity policing is about keeping this flow of information going, they argue it is no longer about foot patrol and not about face-to-face contact. Wright (2000 p.
15, chp 5) states that Ericsson and Haggerty are right to identify the management of risk as a key activity of policing, however Wright does go on to criticize their findings. Wright argues that although their findings were influential they should not really be generalized past the province in Canada from which they were borne; the key aspects have a part in the plurality of policing but are not necessarily the defining characteristic of operational policing. However, if Wright’s argument is true then why does the National Police Intelligence Model mirror the importance of information gathering that Ericsson and Haggerty propose? This contemporary model bases is fundamental strategy on the flow of information, it will not send patrol officers out when you report a car stolen, the model we require an officer to collate information, from CCTV, from telephone calls, from crime stopper campaigns. The police will then act on this information; following the rules, formats and technologies to ensure an almost risk free prosecution, they will also share the same information on the place, the victim and the offender to insurance brokers and various other organizations who shape and style the way the police gather evidence. The police from an operational level are responsible for the surveillance and the prevention of crime; the police form part of a larger network that share the same information. Information can come from and go to the health services, the driving licence authorities and the criminal justice system.
This information can affect the career of any person, it can make a person uninsurable, unemployable and very excluded. Fear is the unknown, but what the police ultimately do with their knowledge can have profound effects; we can already see the possibility of creating ‘fortress cities’ and isolating and excluding the criminal. An aim of incapacitation by electronic tag for example, is one of integration; but it has the reverse affects, how are the tagged supposed to integrate into a society that the police have classed as ‘dangerous’. A circular argument begins again; history repeating itself from the 18 th Century labeling theory. Late modernity is about the future, it is very easy to see how the future can actually be its own enemy, and indeed this is not just an issue for policing in a risk society but living in a risk society as a whole.
Do we really need or want all the information to hand? It is good to make informed choices, if indeed we are able; where is the cut off boundary to stop fear escalating into a society of panic and total mistrust? Waiton (2001) reported how these risk adverse initiatives in policing have backfired in Strathclyde. Waiton describes how initiatives designed to reduce people’s fear of crime had the opposite effect, by helping to reinforce the idea that we are all at risk from our neighbours – or at least the antisocial ‘yobs’ who hang about the streets. (p. Strathclyde council introduced a child curfew scheme on a residential estate, the scheme took the children off the streets for the time limits of the project, but merely served to elevate the existing fears that problem youths hanging about were in fact criminal, when this wasn’t the case. It painted the estate a ‘problem estate’ to those on the outside. An issue when either too much information is received to increase fear and anxiety; the children were not perceived as a problem of criminal behavior, but they are now.
This modern risk society can be explained from one end of the continuum of local risk policing as above to the global policing of the risk society. To ask the question; should we be bothered about what is happening on the other side of the world? Yes of course we should, policing is a global phenomenon that has no prejudices, policing on a global scale has headlined the news since The World Trade Center atrocities of 9/11. The impact 9/11 had were global, policing as a security state, a risk adverse society began if not increased globally. Terrorism is now a risk that affects us all indiscriminately, we continue living with it, it is uninsurable, and it needs to be policed – locally and globally. Dennis (2001) believes that nothing could have stopped 9/11 occurring, but how we now act and police on a global scale can severely reduce the risk of it happening again. We don’t live in a utopian world, we cannot make promises that it won’t happen again, but we can reduce the risk.
This global problem is a local issue; The Guardian (April 2 nd 2003) reported on two Al-Qaida members jailed for 11 years for credit card fraud, the fraud was raising the funds needed to support terrorism. B rahim Benmerzouga and Baghdad Mesiane, both Algerian, were the first people to be convicted in the UK of having links with Osama bin Laden who has in turn been linked to the atrocities of 9/11. Operational police uncovered a factory in Corby where money was amassed through stealing details from genuine cards, transferring them to blank cards and using these to obtain cash. Prevention of terrorism is a key part now in a risk society and shows just how global and to what extent an event on the other side of the world can affect our day-to-day policing. Detecting fraud is particularly difficult, as it is not tangible, like criminal damage or theft, nothing is actually stolen because the real card still exists. It is late modernity policing and technological surveillance and global communication that help in combat and prevent this crime.
On Wednesday 15 th January 2003, BBC News reported that we had lost our first officer to terrorism. This involved a case where police in protective equipment entered the house to contain 3 terrorism suspects, the suspects were contained and special branch officers continued the investigation. The special branch officers were not in protective clothing and the 3 suspects were not handcuffed. One of the suspects grabbed a knife and stabbed 5 officers; one of those officers died.
In a risk-obsessed society, where was the risk assessment? There must have been one for the initial officers to wear protective clothing, even the Chief Constable of Manchester is quoted as having said ‘There were no ‘perceived risk’ to any of the officer’ (BBC New UK, 2003 p. 2), if there was ‘no perceived risk’ then why the protective clothing in the first instance; they were dealing with suspected terrorists; the perception of risk here is questionable. An investigation will be held but as Bristow (2003) states ‘The British state seems to have become so caught up in fears about the hypothetical that they are losing their grip on the obvious’ (p. 1) This report has no issue that a risk society exists; indeed that we police in a risk society. It is clear in the last 30 years that the police have pluralized, that policing consists of more than just the ‘police’ but has a private entity too.
It is also evident that ‘communities’ have been lost due to the globalization of society as a whole and policing is focused on the communities at risk. Policing is based on crime prevention; although it is argued that this has always been the case. Technological advances have helped police an increasingly insecure society and gather much needed information for the police as information brokers. A valid point that needs to be made is the link between our risk society, the paper burden and the fear of being sued for malpractice; yes there are insurance policies for police officers on duty and yes there are procedures, rules, formats and technologies that should be followed; to this extent risk aversion is a key concept in modern day policing, however, operational police officers have that thing called ‘discretion’s o ultimately the choice to fill in the form, to conform to the policies and submit the information is surely an individual decision.
The police service is a managerializied concept, but the mangers can only identify the risks, whether or not the ground officers want to comply or use their discretion is totally out of the police services hand and maybe in the hands of an insurance company. If we do not live in a risk society then why has the writer got underwritten insurance policies for the following: – life insurance, negligence at work insurance, freezer insurance, contents insurance, car insurance, holiday insurance, critical illness insurance, credit card insurance, pet insurance, stereo, camera and camcorder insurance, television and computer insurance and insurance for the washing machine. We life in a society of ‘what ifs’, insurance serves to eliminate the fears of the ‘what ifs’, the insurance agencies have information supplied by whom? There is no doubt we ‘police’ in a risk society but as Johnson (2000: 51) reminds us ‘Late modern policing should not… be seen as a mere reflection of some over bearing risk-based rationale, for in practice, risk-based approaches are combined with disciplinary one. The police are a multi-disciplinary tool, they are proactive, reactive, the fight crime, they solve crime and they also prevent crime.
The writer would argue that Johnson is correct but would also point out since the global impact of 9/11, the contribution of the risk society to policing has just got larger and it is only future research that will be able to show the impact of such an event on policing at an operational level.