Private Policing in Context

  • Les Johnston


This article considers the development, growth and significance of private policing in a wider context. Section one suggests that the rebirth of private policing is associated with - and, in effect, demands - a change in the conceptual framework with which policing is analysed. While section one addresses the conceptual context of private policing, section two examines its theoretical context by considering various explanations for the post-war growth of commercial security. Moving from specific to general accounts, it is suggested that two explanations - one based upon sociological accounts of the development of modern societies, the other on genealogical accounts of developing ‘mentalities’ - provide a crucial context for understanding contemporary changes in policing and governance. In the next section, two of these changes - the growing influence of risk-based policing and the increasing significance of diverse patterns of governance - are considered in the context of the fragmented forms of security provision (commercial, municipal, civil and state policing) which are prevalent today. A short concluding section offers some ‘final thoughts’ on how these arguments impact on the governance of policing. One of the implications contained in this article is that the re-emergence of private policing needs to be considered not only as a problem, but also as an opportunity to identify and address critical questions of contemporary governance.

governance policing private security risk society security policy 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Les Johnston
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Human StudiesUniversity of TeessideMiddlesboroughUK

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