Law in Policing: Legal Regulation and Police Practices
Professor David Dixon
Publication Date :
1 Jan 1997
The book poses the questions: how do law and policing relate; and can police practices be significantly changed by means of legal regulation? In examining these questions, this book deals with issues which are at the heart of contemporary debates about policing. It contains empirical research from England and Australia in the context of the international policing literature, arguing that studies of policing need theoretical and comparative development. The structure of the book is as follows. The first chapter provides a detailed critical reading of three theoretical conceptions of law in policing which the author terms legalistic-bureaucratic, culturalist, and structural. Chapter two examines the concept of police powers, using historical material from England and Australia. The way in which empirical work can generate theoretical reconsideration is shown in Chapter three, which considers the ways in which legal regulation of policing may be evaded by obtaining a suspect's 'consent' to policing practices such as search and detention, and considers the implications of this for conceptions of policing. Chapters four and five focus on the key policing practice of custodial interrogation in, respectively, England and Australia. This leads, in Chapter six, to the long controversy about the right of silence (and to its severe restriction in the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994). It concludes with comments about the symbolic nature of the issue, the theoretical implications of the problems encountered in defining and counting instances of suspects using the right to silence, and the possible effects of the 1994 Act. The final chapter discusses how the practices and forms of law and policing intersect, relates law in policing to broader debates about regulation, the rule of law, and techniques of controlling power, and considers the limits and possibilities of using law to direct and control policing.