Police officers have always had the responsibility of crowd in situations where large groups of people suddenly share a collective uncontrolled anger. In many cases such anger is provoked by political policies that the public find unacceptable. Crowds of people may choose to express their disquiet through demonstrations which may turn unruly hence the police have to come in to disperse them. A good example is the mass demonstrations that hit the city of Copenhagen in December (2009) over climate change. Over 600 people were arrested (Henry, 2009). Other forms of crowd violence may emanate from gang violence or even a faceoff between rival religious groups as was the case in January – March 2010 in Jos Nigeria (Smith, 2010).
The police are therefore always called upon to control such crowd situations. However in the context of modern policing they have to ensure that they do not use unnecessarily excessive force in order to achieve their objective since that may be regarded as human rights abuse by the victims and wider society. Whereas it was common in the past for the police to even shoot people dead on such occasions, human rights campaigners have rigorously opposed such police brutality thus forcing the police to review their methods in view of such complaints (Siegel, 2005). Illustrating those plural policing methods may (in instances such as this) reduce hostility and remove the wedge between policing officials and the wider community by acting as a catalyst and improving societies experience with the law.
In recent times the most problematic emergent crime for the police all over the world has been organised crime. This area has been especially problematic since they come up with new challenges that police organisations did not anticipate before. They also keep changing as the criminals, like any others, become more sophisticated in their mode of operations (Neocleous, 2004).
This refers to illegitimate groups of persons who operate using organisational rules similar to those of legal entities to propagate crime. Such organisations are in most cases unregistered but may run several legitimately registered businesses to aid them in crime or as a means of investing their criminally acquired proceeds. In some cases they are registered but pursue objectives other than those stated in their articles (Sullivan, 2002).
Organised crime includes extortion gangs, drug trafficking groups, terrorism practitioners, pimping groups that organise prostitution and street gangs. Like any other organisation they have rules, organisational structures and financial management systems. However they ruthlessly enforce these rules and break the law regularly in pursuit of their objectives. Events such as murder, assault and gang shootouts are a common feature among them (Sullivan, 2002).
A common form of organised crime is the variety known as 'paramilitaries'. Originating in Northern Ireland as a protector of the community, but now a day's refer to a highly structured profit driven business, organisations that involves itself in underground criminal activities while holding a visible front. They seem to involve themselves in merchandising assassinations, extortion, drug trafficking among other ills while threatening their own members and the general public with death to ensure they toe the line (Sullivan, 2002).
Most organised crime is difficult to deal with for modern policing agencies since there sphere of operation is in many cases internal and external thus requires cooperation and coordination between different police organisations alongside other outside agencies. This cooperation is severely limited by the differences in laws governing the different countries (Sullivan, 2002). This demonstrates that policing this type of crime at a community level can prove to be quite difficult, especially as well as demonstrating a sign of danger for those involved at a community level.
Another emergent crime which has been established in recent decades is computer crime, cyber crime involves the use of computers or computer based networks to break the law. Though there are several forms of computer crimes, the two that immediately come to mind are bank fraud and hacking. Bank fraud occurs when mostly insiders conspire to draw money illegally from private accounts held by individuals and transfer it to their own accounts. International wire transfer has the disadvantage that once money is wired it is very difficult or even impossible to wire it back to the source.
Though Banks always take precautions with strict regulations on wire transfer, such rules differ from country to country and thus those countries with the negligent laws become easy targets for fraudsters on the international arena. Fraudsters have also been known to acquire bank information of unsuspecting targets using false pretences and then using the same to empty the accounts of the unfortunate targets (Siegel, 2005). Therefore policing officials have had to acquire information of banking officials in order to solve these types of crimes, once again illustrating that the police need other outside agencies to deal with this type of crime.
However there is a variety of hackers popularly known as crackers who break into computers to gather classified information for clandestine and unlawful purposes. Their aim is to sell the information to willing buyers or even illegally transfer cash that belongs to other people on money transfer sites. Crackers have been known to break into classified information of governments, intelligence networks, banking organisations, media houses and international non- governmental organisations (Hafner, & Markoff, 1991). On June 1 1994, Kevin Poulsen also known as Dark Dante was convicted in the United States after pleading guilty to seven counts of mail, wire and computer fraud; as well as money laundering and obstruction of justice. He was sentenced to 51 months in prison and ordered to pay US $ 56,000 in restitution (Gissel, 2005).
Relevance of the Police in Modern Society
Difficult as it may be to imagine, policing in today's society faces challenges that sometimes boarders on the consideration that this long standing institution should be done away with altogether. Though that is extremely radical, it is quite obvious that the police have always been forced to bend over backwards in order to accommodate the ever changing laws in an increasingly freedom oriented society. With the emergency of strong human rights advocacy groups always pushing for more freedom of individuals and constant laws by increasingly restive members of the public, the police are definitely on the spotlight at all times (Schulte, 1996).
First of all, the Police as a force have become extinct in many countries having been replaced by a Police Service, such as Northern Ireland. The reason for this was because a 'Police Force' seemed as if it was a forcing legislator whereas a 'Police Service' is seen as a community provider (Newburn, 2007). The role of the Police as enforcers of the law is slowly becoming reinvented as that of service to the community by inventing other local agencies and using them as a lower level crime prevention scheme. In its rich history, the Police were at one time regarded as the protectors of capital owned by the rich against a populace bent on acquiring it for themselves.
This role is no longer relevant as it has emerged that they are public servants paid by all in the service of all. Demonstrating that the public want a police service who adopt a more civilised approach in terms of appearance and attitude; with the police declaring that it makes it difficult for those Police who handle a force, who has been trained to enforce the law mostly by targeting the low class citizens as the main potential law breakers. The Police Chief has therefore been called upon to reform the force constantly to maintain its relevance in modern society (Schulte, 1996).
However, with retraining on issues such as protection of human rights and equal enforcement for the public, many modern police forces have emerged out of the morass in which they operated in the past. Methods such a torture as a way of retrieving information from suspects for instance have long been outlawed with only moderate methods being advocated. Police officers therefore constantly face the challenge of retrieving information using moderate methods that involve persuasion and bargaining rather than force (Neocleous, 2004).
Another front of change for the police lies in the fact that they increasingly deal with a populace that is well aware of their rights. Such individuals keenly observe that such rights are observed to the letter every time they have a run in with the police. Conversely though, this newfound power of the lawbreaker over the police must be delicately balanced with the danger facing the police officer. Criminals don't like being arrested and the possibility of them beginning to shoot their way to freedom is nearly always a grim reality. Since no Police Chief wants his officers to end up as statistics of deaths on the line of duty, all these guarantees of rights must be delicately balanced with the ever present need to use force before the criminal dies. If this is the dilemma facing the society; balancing the right to life of the criminal and that of the officer; the direct victims of this dilemma are the police officers themselves (Neocleous, 2004).
The modern police officer is also an integral member of the society in which he operates. He has to partake in collective community activities in order to maintain the touch with their surroundings necessary to help them gather all requisite information relevant to their work (Beito, 1999). Yet their duty calls upon them to immediately apprehend any member of society who breaks the law. It is another dicey balance between duty and building trust. It is no secret that the long arm of the law is the last thing a member of the public wants nosing around once they has committed a crime (Schulte, 1996). This point regards the state as a 'meddler' as it is a figure seen as intervening in people's lives (Newburn, 2008).
Another of the main challenges posed to policing is the emergence of private security firms that offer their services at a local level. Those who can afford such services tend to prefer this type of refuge as they have an element of leverage in the control of these organisations. Private security even as a protecting agent still have to abide by certain regulations, such as The Private Security Act (2001) which ensures moderation by a Security Industry Authority to create a better formation of security.
All security firms report to the police when they apprehend criminals activity as they require legal action, they are the preferred mode of security on petty maters that can be resolved locally. In addition, the fact that these organisations are locally based gives them an advantage over the police who operate on a larger scale (Beito, 1999). However, all and sundry know that these forms cannot replace the Police. Whenever local crimes are committed by larger gangs with more fire power and a wider organisational level, the only organisation large, experienced and equipped enough to deal with them is the Police Service. So rather than replace the Police locals prefer to work in cooperation with them (Beito, 1999).