Policing: Key Readings
Edited by Tim Newburn
Cullompton, Devon, UK: Willan Publishing, 2005
The substantive area of policing has seen an incredible growth in the scope and depth of research in the last thirty years or so. As a result, the theoretical sophistication that has developed can leave interested students and academics floundering in the archives. Policing: Key Readings is a compendium of previously published articles and excerpts from books which forms one respected academic’s version of the essential readings in the discipline. This collection is comprehensive not only substantively but also geographically and temporally. The editor states that “the basis for this volume is the view that there now exists a body of work that constitutes the core of policing studies – the canon if you like – that students the world over are directed to read” (ix). This is quite a strong assertion for the beginning of an edited collection; however, having reviewed this 812 page book I do believe this collection contains valuable articles that should be read by anyone interested in understanding the police. This collection of readings includes work by the “greats” in the discipline as well as the work of talented researchers from the last ten years who work on the policing systems in the U.S.A., the U.K., Canada, and Australia. Further, although I have conducted research in this area for several years, this compilation contains some gems that I had previously overlooked (e.g. Bittner’s (1990) “Florence Nightingale in Pursuit of Willie Sutton).
The readings flow logically and are organized thematically in such a way that authors in earlier chapters are referred to and their work is built on in later chapters. Although it is not possible to comment in detail on all 45 chapters in this book, brief summaries of each section and mention of intriguing chapters may be of use to potential readers. The 45 chapters in this book are organized into six thematic sections. Part A – The Emergence and Development of the Police – contains eight chapters which cover the history and development of various police and governance models in the U.K. (e.g., bobbies), Canada (e.g., R.C.M.P.), the U.S. (e.g., New York City police), and colonial countries where the British model was employed (e.g. Hong Kong police).
Part B – The Role and Function of the Police – includes eight chapters which focus on the intricate balance over time regarding ‘what the police actually do’ and the roles of crime fighting, order maintenance, and other forms of service. Several chapters in this section are what I refer to as the foundational concepts in the study of formal social control. For example, David Bayley (ch. 11) provides empirical time use data from the U.S.A., Canada, England and Wales, Australia, and Japan suggesting, as many others in this section do, that the police are peace officers and not law enforcers (chs. 9, 10, 12, and 15). Egon Bittner (ch. 12) reinforces this notion with his argument that the role and mandate of the police cannot be reduced to law enforcement. Peter Manning (ch. 14) summarizes this eloquently by stating that “they have been assigned the task of crime prevention, crime detection and the apprehension of criminals […] the police have staked out a vast and unmanageable social domain” (191). Finally, Richard Ericson (ch. 15) reminds the reader that the police use formal social control (i.e. police discretion) to reproduce a sense of order which may or may not involve the arrest and charging of an individual. The themes raised in this section provide the conceptual framework for the remainder of this collection.
Part C – Police Culture – contains six chapters which investigate the concepts of organization and culture, how they operate, and how they can encourage or inhibit change within a police service. Starting with the seminal work of Jerome Skolnick on the “working personality” of police officers (ch. 17) and John van Maanan’s (ch. 18) concept of “assholes” this section starts out with a bang. The substantive linking of these two pieces is masterful as it lends a stronger base to appreciate the balance of the chapters in this section such as Reuss-Ianni and Ianni’s (ch. 19) work on the differences between street cop and management cop cultures. I was also pleased to see the inclusion of various critiques by Clifford Shearing and Richard Ericson (ch. 20), Janet Chan (ch. 21) and Peter Waddington (ch. 22).
Part D – Policing Strategies – includes ten chapters on various policing models which constitute the operational side of policing. The work of Herman Goldstein (ch. 23) has been very influential for many years and Newburn’s choice to place an excerpt from his work on problem oriented policing at the beginning of this section is brilliant. However, the strength of Part D continues with chapters on community policing (chs. 25, 26), the broken windows philosophy (chs. 27, 28), the zero tolerance approach (ch. 29), the use of COMPSTAT (chs. 30, 31), and modern day twists such as surveillance (ch. 32).
Part E – Deviance, Ethics and Control – is in many ways still an under-researched area. It includes five chapters covering the topics of ethical police practices (chs. 36, 37) as well as more controversial subjects such as racism which erupts into police violence (ch. 33). In addition, this section has examples and theoretical understandings of police misconduct and corruption (chs. 34, 35).
One of the criticisms made of Newburn’s previous edited collection the Handbook of Policing (2003) was the lack of attention paid to policing literature and research outside the U.K. (Berzins, 2005) and no discussion of the use of military forces to police domestically (Manning, 2005). Parts A through E of Policing: Key Readings (2005) have addressed the first concern more than adequately and, in particular, Part E – The Emerging Pattern of Policing – has made strong steps to address the second and related concerns (see Manning, 2005). In the last few years, it has become increasingly commonplace for organizations other than the public police to use formal social control over the domestic populace. The work of Colonel Charles J. Dunlop, Jr. (ch. 44) addresses the use of the military in domestic law enforcement and Jean-Paul Brodeur’s piece (ch. 45) tackles the fluctuating relationship between the police and intelligence agencies. In addition, other emerging trends are included such as policing in a postmodern (chs. 38, 39) or surveillance-based society (chs. 40, 41, and 43) and the emergence of women as high ranking police officials (ch. 42).
Although Policing: Key Readings (2005) is a very large and unwieldy book in soft cover necessitating a place on the bookshelf between other large encyclopaedic collections, Newburn has achieved the objective of providing a comprehensive compendium of required readings in the field. The editor admits he could not provide representation from the non-anglophone speaking literature nor include every piece of seminal work; however, he openly encourages feedback from readers concerning what was included as well as what was left out of this compilation (ix). However, in my opinion, Tim Newburn has once again performed what I would consider an editing miracle. Policing: Key Readings is a major accomplishment and will be cited for many years to come due to the analytical readings selected and Newburn’s helpful introduction to each section. The core of policing studies is captured within one book, which should be essential reading for advanced undergraduates, graduates, and any academics who work in this field.
Jennifer L. Schulenberg
Sam Houston University
Berzin, Michelle. 2005. “A Review of, Tim Newburn (ed.) Handbook of Policing”. Criminal Justice 5(1): 101-106.
Manning, Peter K. 2005. “A Review of Tim Newburn (ed.) Handbook of Policing”. Theoretical Criminology 9(1); 119-125.