Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Law

Research Student: Jennifer Healy

Who pays for public policing? Exploring the shifting boundaries of responsibility for the provision of ‘public’ policing

Photo of Jennifer Healy

At a time of significant budget cuts to police forces in England and Wales the boundaries of responsibility for who pays for ‘public policing’ are becoming re-negotiated, recast and increasingly contested.  This project will explore how these changes are unfolding, and with what effect, during a time when demands on the public police far outstrip their capacity to respond. It will examine how the so-called principle of ‘polluter pays’ is being applied to the provision of police services in an era of financial austerity. This principle asserts that those private sector organisations whose commercial activities give rise to demand for policing are charged with responsibility for contributing to the costs of policing the crime and disorder consequences of their activities. At the same time, the police have been both enabled (under the 1994 Police and Magistrates’ Court Act) and encouraged to generate external income through schemes that include charging more widely for goods and services. This study will illuminate, descriptively, conceptually and normatively, the shifting nature of responsibilities between the state and the market in the delivery of contemporary forms of policing and security.  

The study will focus on three different functional and spatial contexts (football matches, mass attendance leisure events, and the night-time economy) that regularly generate exceptional demands on the police, particularly for a visible and uniformed ‘frontline’ presence. Within these contexts the study will explore:

(1) the national extent of privately paid public policing arrangements

(2) the nature, limits and boundaries of the service purchased in terms of what is (and what is not) being paid for

(3) the institutional opportunities and challenges presented by the contractual specifications of these market-based initiatives, both to the purchaser and the provider

(4) the normative implications that arise from the buying and selling of policing as a public good.  

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