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The Politics of Police 'Privatization': A Multiple Streams Approach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Publication details

JournalCriminology and criminal justice
DateE-pub ahead of print - 8 Sep 2014
DatePublished (current) - Jul 2015
Issue number3
Number of pages17
Pages (from-to)283-299
Early online date8/09/14
Original languageEnglish


In October 2010, the UK Coalition government announced a 20 per cent reduction in the police budget over four years as part of its post-financial crisis Comprehensive Spending Review. In response to this new ‘politics of austerity’ many police forces began to consider outsourcing key services areas to the private sector on an unprecedented scale so as to make the required savings. However, this policy initiative was soon cut short. By March 2012 a prominent media debate on police ‘privatization’ was starting to heat up; in July 2012 the failure of G4S to meet the conditions of its Olympics security contract generated extensive negative publicity and triggered a parliamentary enquiry; and in the run-up to the November 2012 Police and Crime Commissioner elections many candidates could be found campaigning on an ‘anti-privatization’ platform – all of which had the effect of removing police outsourcing from the policy agenda. It had become too politically controversial. This article uses the multiple streams approach to explore the opening and closing of the police outsourcing window. In so doing, it contends that the dynamics of this policy area have ultimately been shaped by the liberal state-building process which emerged out of early enlightenment political thought and continues today.

    Research areas

  • G4S, Outsourcing, Private sector, Privatization

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