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The Core Function Of Police In Reference To Wilson And Keeling's Broken Windows Thesis

2848 words - 11 pages

The Core Function of Police in Reference to Wilson and Keeling's Broken Windows Thesis

In considering whether the core function of the Police should be to
maintain order, there are a number of issues, both historic and
current, which need to be taken into consideration. For example, the
maintenance of what constitutes “order” can be interpreted differently
by different communities i.e. urban and rural. The expectations of
police performance and in how they deploy their resources to meet
conflicting demands need to satisfy both nationally set targets and
meet locally driven priorities. These demands also impacts on the
police as they are expected to adopt a more managerialistic approach
to policing and subsequently what this means to ensure meaningful
accountability to the local communities it serves. There are different
styles of policing which can contribute to maintaining order, zero
tolerance style policing which can have an adverse effect on good
community relations or neighbourhood policing which Wilson and Kelling
assess in their thesis “broken windows”. Furthermore, there has
always been difficulties in achieving a balance between the different
functions of policing , i.e crime fighting, detection of crime and
ultimately how this reduces crime.

If you explore these issues historically, when Sir Robert Peel the
Home Secretary first established the Metropolitan Police in London
1829, he stated that the maintenance of order and prevention of crime
was considered to be a core function of routine police work. This was
explained in the new police instructions published in the Times
newspaper in September 1829, (in Muncie and McLaughlin 2002 Ch 1 p.28)
which stated, “it should be understood from the outset that the object
to be obtained is the prevention of crime”. [and] ..“the preservation
of public tranquillity” This type of policing was considered
essential to protect law-abiding citizens from the disorderly
underclass such the poor, beggars, drunks and the homeless
predominantly in urban areas. It was also felt that it would also
provide the opportunity to detect crime if certain areas were
targeted. As the police service was rolled out across other
metropolitan areas, similar styles of policing were introduced
although not with out some contention. The prioritisation of crime
prevention and maintenance of order, was contested, particularly after
a moral panic in 1862 when MP Hugh Pilkington was robbed (Muncie and
McLaughlin 2002, the problem of crime p.145) this raised many concerns
about the police in that their main style of policing was not deemed
to be effective. Hence by the late nineteenth century the detection of
crime was considered more important that crime prevention.

What this demonstrated was that there was disagreement about the
police’s primary...

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