The Transformation of Policing: From Ratios to Rationalities

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Publication details

JournalBritish Journal of Criminology
DateE-pub ahead of print - 27 Aug 2012
DatePublished (current) - Jan 2013
Issue number1
Number of pages20
Pages (from-to)74-93
Early online date27/08/12
Original languageEnglish


A prominent feature of academic and popular writing about policing is the ‘transformation’ thesis: the contention that, as the ratio of private security to police actors increases in a policing system, the orientation of the system shifts from the public good to the market. The purpose of this article is to critique this thesis. Instead of analysing transformation using the ratio heuristic, it focuses on the everyday rationalities guiding policing actors. Applying this perspective to the British case, it argues that, rather than witnessing a marked shift towards the market, we are in fact seeing a complex blurring of identities, with both private security and police actors drawing upon a mix of public good and market rationalities to inform their actions.

    Research areas

  • Private security, Police, Transformation, Public good, Market, Rationality

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