The first police force in Britain was established at Bow Street, London, in the early eighteenth century. The Metropolitan Police Force was founded in 1829 by Sir Robert Peel, Home Secretary, 'to check a state of rampant criminality almost unbelievable to the modern mind'1. The police are people sanctioned by the state with powers to enforce the law and keep the peace this is achieved in an environment constrained by values of civil rights, individualism and respect for the rule of law.
However, Reiner (2000) points there is a difference between 'this intuitive notion of what the police are and what policing and police actually involve. ' One can argue efficient and effective policing in a democratic society is ultimately a balancing act, which is portrayed in the different aspect of policing running from a police constable to a CID officer. Nonetheless, the core role of the police is something that has been a subject of on-going controversy.
This essay shall discuss the different roles police take on in society ranging from the duties of a uniformed officer to a CID officer; this essay shall also discuss the role of female offices in the police force. Finally, the essay shall argue how effectively the police carry out their duties by looking at certain crime cases scenarios showing injustice etc and by looking at the crime rates themselves.
The public police often perform a broad range of roles ranging from public reassurance such as visible patrol to crime investigation such as reactive detective work to identify and arrest offenders. The word 'police' is not a singular entity, as mentioned in the introduction there are different roles within policing for example 60% of resources are consumed in foot or traffic patrol by uniformed officers and CID account for 15%. The role of the 'police officer' shall be discussed first; Goldstein (1977), highlights certain duties police officers have in society.
Police officers are expected to prevent and control behaviour widely recognized as threatening to life and property such as cracking down on burglary and assaults carried out on individuals. Police are also supposed to aid individuals who are in danger of physical harm, such as the victim of a criminal attack. The police also have 'simple' roles such as facilitating the movement of people and vehicles. They are 'supposedly' here to resolve conflict, whether it is between individuals, groups of individuals, or individuals and their government.
They are also here to identify problems that have the potential for becoming more serious problems for the individual citizen, for the police, or for government; and finally they create and maintain a feeling of security in the community, for example foot patrol officers. 2 To be able to achieve these objectives, the police also try to gain a good police – public relationship to do their job, Banton (1964) for example argued that 'without sustained public contact, officers would be unable to exercise their discretion appropriately and would find themselves isolated, increasingly hostile and unable to empathize with the public'.
Therefore, many police authority regularly consults with the public to find out exactly what people think of the way their area is policed and which crimes they think local police officers should be concentrating on. When questioning what the police do, one can argue that the police try to get the public more involve, to gain their trust so that they can do their job more constructively. This is achieved by setting up schemes such as neighbourhood watch, etc. creating a police- public relationship.
There are other ways the police become involved with the public, such as in demonstrations were the police are seen to take a pivotal role. Community policing defined by Trojanowicz and Bucqueroux (1998) is a style which 'allows face to face contact with people in the same defined geographic area everyday' This kind of policing involving the police working with the public is referred to as 'soft' policing, however, there is the terminology called 'hard' policing involving the police working against people (criminals).
Hard policing is where the police come to symbolize the power of the state and governmental interest, 'public order policing' – crowd control and responding to riots can illustrated this. In these circumstances the police role is to maintain the peace and order, however Waddington (2000), argues that in such cases the police role 'is not the maintenance of order, but the maintain of a particular order' (that of the state). The soft and hard policing elements relate to uniformed officers, however there are other elements of the police force, which deal with crime management and crime investigation.