Start Geo Dictionary | Overview | Topics | Groups | Categories | Bookmark this page.
geology dictionary - geography encyclopedia  
Full text search :        
   A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z   #   



policing, geography of

  Policing refers to a set of activities involving the use of surveillance and the threat of sanctions for discovered deviance, intended to ensure the security of a particular social order (Reiner, 1997). These activities are carried out by a variety of agencies but most research has focused on the public police who are defined by their specific mandate of crime control and order maintenance; their specific powers of the right to use coercive force within the state\'s domestic territory; and their specific form of accountability to the law. Geographical interest in policing has developed around several overlapping themes. Initially there was concern that many studies of the geography of crime (see crime, geography of) failed to address the possible impact of police practices on the spatial distribution of crime. Different crime recording procedures between police forces can have a significant impact on regional variations in \'official\' crime rates, while at a local level proactive policing of so-called victimless crimes, such as prostitution and offences involving illegal drugs (where there is no specific victim to report an incident to the police), can have an important influence on the location of these crimes (see Lowman, 1992). In terms of the role of the police in reducing crime, the generally limited effectiveness of police patrols has been shown to be enhanced when these patrols are spatially targeted on so-called \'hot spots\', locations such as street intersections, retail or residential areas which generate disproportionately high numbers of calls for police attention.

This research on policing and crime control has helped focus attention on the more general importance of the spatiality of police practices. The use of time-geography (Fyfe, 1992) and studies of police territoriality (Herbert, 1997) highlight how the power of the police to secure social order depends crucially on their control of space. The police routinely draw on their coercive powers to define and enforce boundaries between public and private space, to restrict people\'s mobility and to disperse gatherings of people in locations where such activity is seen as threatening to public order. Shaping this use and control of space are a variety of wider influences relating to police subcultures, the bureaucratic organization of police forces, and the law (see law, geography of). These studies of the spatiality of public policing have a much wider relevance within human geography. The local actions of police officers are bound up with the political geography of state power given that the cumulative effect of officers\' actions is to support the central state\'s administrative and disciplinary efforts and so contribute to processes of \'internal pacification\'. Of course, this does not occur without conflict and both historical (see Ogborn, 1993) and contemporary (see Smith, 1986; Blomley, 1994, ch. 5) geographical studies have explored the tensions that can exist between the policing priorities of local communities and the broader policing agenda set by central state interests. The study of police territoriality also establishes connections between policing and social geography by revealing the contours of those images of the city (see mental maps) held by police officers which equip them with sets of expectations about what is normal or typical activity for a location at a certain time. Particular attention has focused on the policing of so-called \'no-go\' areas in US and UK cities, where conflict between the police and local, often ethnic minority, communities has become routine (see Keith, 1993).

Although research into policing has focused mainly on the public police, policing is not a public monopoly. In many metropolitan areas policing is performed by a mix of public organizations and private agencies and individuals (see Fyfe, 1995). Two forms of private policing are of particular geographical interest:

self-policing (also referred to as responsible or active citizenship), which involves private individuals taking responsibility for the surveillance of public spaces, like the street, and the security of private spaces, such as the home, via local neighbourhood or block watch schemes; and

private security policing, which has grown rapidly in the post-1945 period due to the expansion in privately-owned but publicly accessible spaces like shopping malls, industrial estates and university campuses, where security is provided by private police personnel and video-surveillance systems. (See also private interest developments.)

Compared with public policing, research into private policing is in its infancy but given that in both Britain and North America private police personnel now outnumber their counterparts in public policing, the activities of private police in regulating behaviour and maintaining order in privately owned \'public\' spaces is of growing importance. Indeed, against the background of a growing debate about the impact of increasing social control and surveillance for the \'destruction of any truly democratic urban space\' (Davis, 1992, p. 155), the roles of both public and private police deserve continuing critical geographical scrutiny.

While local urban communities provide the focus for most research on public and private policing, the exercise of surveillance at other geographical scales and in new and different environments is also of growing significance. At an international level, for example, the increasing globalization of crime means that patrolling the \'global village\' involves national security organizations like MI5 and federal law enforcement agencies like the FBI or DEA operating alongside more established global policing and suveillance organizations like Interpol, MI6 and the CIA to tackle problems of international terrorism, drug trafficking or cross-border fraud. In terms of new environments, the policing of virtual communities in cyberspace, where so-called \'cybercrimes\' such as espionage, theft of intellectual property, and pornography are a growing problem, poses a significant challenge for traditional police organizations and surveillance methods in the twenty-first century (see Wall, 1997). (NRF)

References Blomley, N.K. 1994: Law, space and the geographies of power. New York: Guilford Press. Davis, M. 1992: Fortress Los Angeles: the militarization of urban space. In M. Sorkin, ed., Variations on a theme park: the new American city and the end of public space. New York: Hill and Wang, 154-80. Fyfe, N.R. 1992: Space, time and policing: towards a contextual understanding of police work. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 10: 469-86. Fyfe, N.R. 1995: Policing the city. Urban Studies 32: 759-78. Herbert, S. 1997: Policing space: territoriality and the Los Angeles Police Department. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Keith, M. 1993: Race, riots and policing: lore and disorder in a multi-racist society. London: UCL Press. Lowman, J. 1992: Police practices and crime rates in the lower world: prostitution in Vancouver. In D.J. Evans, N.R. Fyfe and D.T. Herbert, eds, Crime, policing and place: essays in environmental criminology. London: Routledge, 233-54. Ogborn, M. 1993: Ordering the city: surveillance, public space and the reform of urban policing in England 1835-56. Political Geography 12: 505-21. Reiner, R. 1997: Policing and the police. In M. Maguire, R. Morgan and R. Reiner, eds, The Oxford handbook of criminology, 2nd edn. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 997-1049. Smith, S.J. 1986: Police accountability and local democracy. Area 18: 99-107. Wall, D. 1997: Policing the virtual community: the Internet, cyberspace and cyber-crime. In P. Francis, P. Davies and V. Jupp, eds, Policing futures: the police, law enforcement and the twenty-first century. London: Macmillan, 208-36.

Suggested Reading Fyfe, N.R. 1991: The police, space and society: the geography of policing. Progress in human geography 15: 249-67. Herbert, S. 1997: Policing space: territoriality and the Los Angeles Police Department. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.



Bookmark this page:



<< former term
next term >>
poetics of geography
political ecology


Other Terms : spatial science | urban ecology | density gradient
Home |  Add new article  |  Your List |  Tools |  Become an Editor |  Tell a Friend |  Links |  Awards |  Testimonials |  Press |  News |  About
Copyright ©2009 GeoDZ. All rights reserved.  Terms of Use  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us