"An important assessment of how chief police officers understand and use power and what this might mean for the maintenance of legitimacy. From an academic and practitioner perspective, Shannon paints a disconcerting picture of the conflict that arises when chief police officers consider policing by consent and the need to need to exercise power based on the law."
–Jenny Fleming, Professor, Social Sciences, University of Southampton, UK
This book adds to knowledge about chief police officers in England and Wales by exploring their understandings of the right of police to exercise power. Their beliefs, motivations, backgrounds, and cultures are examined. Light is cast on how they perceive power, coercion, control, policing purpose, gendered understandings, protecting people, vulnerability, policing by consent, discretion, operational independence, law and the oversight and political direction (or governance), and accountability of police. Chief officers used three legitimating narratives based on: protecting people — particularly the most vulnerable — policing by consent, and law and the oversight and political direction of police. These accounts are assessed. Damaged processes of police governance that risk undermining police leadership and legitimacy are revealed. Critically, chief officers’ understandings of legitimacy are found to be confused, conflicted, and, above all, convenient in supporting them in asserting a privileged position from which they can pursue their preferences for the use of power.
Ian Shannon is a fellow at the University of Leeds, UK, and completed his PhD at the University of Liverpool in 2018. From 1981 to 2013, he served as a police officer in three forces and he retired as a deputy chief constable. He was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal in 2013.