Pluralisationof policing: reproducing and reinforcing racist policing practices?Rogers (2017, p. 23) states “This is a world ofplural, networked policing”, and using Loader (2000, cited in Rogers, 2017,p.23) explanation to defines four distinct categories of policing namely:· Private forms of policing securedthrough government;· Transnational forms of policingthat are above government;· The market in policing and securitybeyond government;· Policing activities engaged in bycitizens themselves, considered to be below government.To encapsulate the points above would be, Jones andNewburn (2006, pp.
4 – 5) definition of pluralization of policing as theexpansion of commercial security into the public spheres, the emergence offorms of policing provision by commercial security and the growing’commodification’ of public policing. It can be referred as a deliberatetransfer of public policing functions to private security due to the process ofprivatization. Which Shearing and Stenning (1987, cited in Jones and Newburn,2006, p.8) term it as ‘mass private security’, where the ‘natural domain’ ofthe police is shrinking and the commercial policing is expanding. Jones andNewburn (2006, pp.
76 – 77) highlights the potential problems that might occurwith the increased fragmentation of policing such as issue of equity andfunctional co-ordination problem. Moreover, is the emphasis on how diversityleads to “over-policing of some; under-policing of others; invasive policing ofall; inequitable, ineffective and unaccountable policing” (p.78). (Source:Los Angeles Times)The above article illustrates how public policeofficers often target ethnic minority in their stop and search, and theimplementation of racial profiling as part of their policing routine. (Source:CBC news)The above article illustrates how racist policingpractices such as racial profiling has transgress into commercial spaces andretailers reproduce the racist practices by conducting racial profiling ontheir own. Thus, this report aims to analyse if plural policing has helpfurther reproduce racial inequalities in public sphere, as well as criticallyexamines plural policing governance and accountability.
Historical context on the criminalization of’racialized groups of people’Rowe (2012, pp. 2 – 9) explores the complexity of therelationship of ‘race’ and ‘crime’ and how it is conceptually co-dependent.Rowe (2012, pp. 2 – 5) discusses the concept of ‘race’ as a social construct,using historical lens and sociological concept to explain the phenomenon anddraw linkage with the idea of ‘race’ and ‘crime’.
I will be illustrating howhistorical context on the criminalization of ‘racialized groups of people’ iscrucial in understanding the way policing is conducted by state police officersand commercial security agencies in the modern society. Firstly, the history ofcolonialism, it is mentioned that there is a construction of ‘racialdifference’ by the European imperialist to exert dominance over ‘other’ racesto justify the ‘ascendant position of the white race’. Predominantly, we canidentify that the colour of skin especially darker skin people is often thetarget of ‘racial difference’ and constructed to be an ‘inferior’ race ascompared to the whites. For instance, the slavery of Africans is a clearindicator of the construction of ‘racial difference’ to categorized humanityinto hierarchically organised racial types, used to justify differentiatetreatment (p.3).
Additionally, the Holocaust that happen in mid -1930s is yetanother historical event that we can examine how racist biological theories ofcrime, allowed justification for Nazis broad implementation of “racial hygiene”,aims to eradicate ‘inferior groups’ from Germany to develop a purity ofsuperior Aryan race” (p.24). Thus, by exploring the concept of ‘racialization’as a social construct, it helps to understand the complex and inconsistentdynamics of the process, and how the concept of racialization is greatly usedto identity ‘racial typologies’ of crime. The description shows how ‘racialisedgroups’ are often targeted by the criminal justice system and theinternalisation of that perception by the public.
To analyse if there isprogression from racist policing practices, I will be assessing if racism is reproduceand reinforce in plural policing practices, by analysing literatures thatdiscusses on policing practices conducted by private securities. (Source:Prison Policy Initiative)Based on Prison Policy Initiative (2016) report thatUnited States have the highest incarceration rates in the world, and theinfographic above shows major disproportionality in the incarceration of ethnicminority of the country. Smiley and Fakunle (2016, p. 2) describes theimportance of connecting “historical legacies of racial demonization tocontemporary criminalization of Blackness”.
Smiley and Fakunle (2016, pp. 3 – 6)clearly articulate how racial ideology is practiced at both institutional andindividual level in American society. Furthermore, sentiments of racialsuperiority and inferiority continue to develop in the 21st century.
More importantly is the negative portrayal of black criminality and theinternalisation of stereotypical and racist perspectives that justify for theunjust criminal justice system, and law enforcement practices on the ‘Blacks’.Despite, the many issues faced by ethnic minority such as police brutality andunjust prison sentencing, I will be focusing on the racial discrimination facedby ethnic minority in commercial spaces. Schreer, Smith and Thomas (2009)identify with the long-standing issue of racial profiling in American societyand highlight the transgression of racial profiling practices into retailspaces. Using the term ‘shopping while black’ to emphasize on the differentiateretail treatment the blacks received. The literature posits the claim byillustrating how blacks are over-surveillance as compared to white.
Forinstance, supervisors instructed staff to ‘shadow’ Black customers to reducethe likelihood of stealing. Yet, the justification for this racist policingpractices is retailer’s legitimate concerns over billions of dollars lost eachyear to shoplifting, and store security personnel and retail staff are responsiblefor the detection and prevention of potential shoplifters (p. 1433). Due to thelimited anti – theft training received, staffs often rely on sociallyconstructed, stereotypical profiles of Black shoppers (Gabbidon, 2003, cited inSchreer et al.
, 2009, p.1433). Moreover, studies indicated that statisticallywhite female shoppers are more prevalent to shoplift as compared to racial biasperceptions of young, black male shoppers being the typical shoplifters thatretailer’s target. Hence, despite being targets of criminalization in the eyesof police officers, the use of racial profiling in retail spaces by retailpersonnel further reproduces racial stereotypes, prejudices and discriminationtowards the Blacks community in America.
Similarly, Søgaard (2017) article on ‘ethnicity andthe policing of nightclub accessibility in the Danish night-time economy’illustrate how employees of commercial spaces, specifically bouncers’ useracially bias profiles to regulate the access of ethnic minority. The issuehighlight in the article is how “bouncers’ regulation of nightclubaccessibility is crucial to the (re)production of ethnic divisions andinequalities in Danish nightlife” (p. 257).
For instance, bouncers racistpolicing practices such as; racial profiling, economically – born risk thinkingand ethnic stereotyping. May (2014, cited in Søgaard, 2017, p. 256) states howthe exclusion of ethnic minority men accessibility into the nightclubs reinforcethe status of ‘second-class citizens’. Gilroy (2006, cited in Søgaard, 2017, p.256) observed that the current racist policing practices can be related to”post-colonial melancholia manifested in cultural racism and the exclusion ofvisible minority youth from bars and nightclubs”.
Research also shown how bouncers useddifferent basis of criteria to regulate access into privately own venues, andresearchers observed “bouncers’ exclusionary practices often targetmarginalised ethno-racial minority men” (p. 257). It is visible that bouncers’have great discretionary power within their field of work, making ethnicminority more helpless in this situation. As their ability to enjoy nightlifewithout discrimination is at risk of denial, due to the potential racial biasbouncers might have on that race. Even though there is research indicating thatbouncer’s exclusion of ethnic minority is driven by risk-based, situational andintra-organisational logics instead of direct racist intent.
But, the articleadvocates that bouncers’ risk perceptions “are often fuelled by prejudice andstereotypical conceptions about ethno-racial minority men as a group” (p.258).It is unfortunate to said that ethnic minority men are being target by bothpublic and private securities. Additionally, plural policing that happen incommercial spaces can have more negative impact for ethnic minority as they arebeing police by regular people without formal authority. Moreover, in a societywhere racial bias and prejudices towards ethnic minority men is rampant, theircomplaints on their human rights are usually ignored and neglected.
Comparatively, Diphoorn (2017) article on “The ‘BravoMike Syndrome’: private security culture and racial profiling in South Africa”illustrates institutional racism in private security industries. Diphoorn(2017, pp. 525 – 526) states how private security armed response officersconstruct racially dangerous ‘Others’ particularly black male which they referto as ‘Bravo Mike’ as potential criminals. The article examines how thisracialised imaginaries of criminals is greatly used by the private security officers,and this policing practices further reproduces racial inequality and underminesblacks’ human rights. Similarly, to the above two cases, South Africa have longstanding race issues since the apartheid times, resulting to public and privatesecurities over- surveillance and policing of ‘Bravo Mike”. The article positsthe apartheid fundamental goal is to ensure that “the visual social landscapewas racialised” (Diphoorn, 2017, p. 528).
Diphoorn (2017, pp. 529 – 530)provides great insight on how private securities was used to support theapartheid times as supplementary manpower. The private securities were givenpolicing duties such as patrolling and guarding key sites. In return for the privatesecurities support, extensive surveillance activities remained under theprivate security domain. Article also states how individuals from armed forceswere transferred to private security, resulting to the forge of social ties andnetworks between the two forces. However, when apartheid dismantled there isreformed in the police system and racially steered policing practices arehighly rejected by the new government.
This changes in the political landscapecauses the boom in South Africa private security industry, due to the Whitesfear for their security and privileges being at risk. However, with theliberation of apartheid comes the rise of crime rates and the attribution ofthe rise in crime rates linked back to the freedom given to the Blacks. Hence,the racially steered policing practices are not entirely eradicated as itshould be, and with the rise in private security. The Blacks are at a greaterdisadvantage now than they are in the past, they are surveillance moreintensely by the private security. Article highlights that clients that hiredprivate security officers demand officers to be of certain race, resulting tocompanies engaging in “racially steered recruitment policies”.
As a result, theexpansion of plural policing helps reproduce racial inequalities rather thanbreaking it down, the ethnic minority is now at disadvantage in both public andprivate spheres due to racially bias policing practices practice by both publicpolice officers and private security officers. As mention earlier that Jones and Newburn (2006, pp.76– 77) highlight the problems of plural policing to be issue on equity andproblem on functional co-ordination.
Firstly, societal resources are alreadyunevenly distributed, now with the commodification of security raise majorissues on equity. What about those who are marginalized, stigmatized and victimsof criminalization; the commodification of security makes it worst for them.Justice is no longer equal; this governmental problem is problematic to thesociety as it disrupts societal balance and order. American Civil LibertiesUnion (2009, pp. 73 – 78) report to the U.N committee on the elimination ofracial discrimination suggest seven articles of recommendation aims toeliminate racial discrimination and disparity in America society.
Focusing onthe suggestion given on policing issues, American Civil Liberties Union (2009,p.75) advocates the banning of “all ethnic and racial practices by state lawenforcement officers and ensure that states comply with bans already in placeincluding the collection of racial profiling data”. Moreover, is to urge “U.Scongress to pass the end Racial Profiling Act of 2005”, this is extremelyimportant as mentioned in the ‘retail profiling’, this policing practicesgreatly affects ethnic minority normal shopping lifestyles and rights. Eventhough, there are cases where lawsuits are won and the victims of ‘retailprofiling’ gets compensated for that racist policing practices. However, thediscrimination ethnic minority faced in retail spaces are still on-going and itis an instinctive habit to target ethnic minority as potential predator ofcrime.
Therefore, the next recommendation to condemn and eradicate all racialsegregation is crucial in improving the governance of racial issues, and ensurethat ethnic minority are not excluded and segregated from other communities. Asthe cases illustrated that racial bias, stereotypes and prejudices are theby-product of differentiate treatment and the racist ideology of superiorityand inferiority. Thus, if government were to place more emphasis onrestructuring and amend housing and zoning policies, this will help createbetter public and private spheres experience for ethnic minority. Secondly, the coordination of private and publicspheres is a governmental concern, such as what duties should be outsourced toother agencies and what responsibilities and powers can be given to thedifferent security providers. How can it be regulated and govern by the state?These are legitimate concern when managing a variety of complex agenciesinvolved in policing, which without effective governance might degenerate intoan anarchic patchwork. Maillard and Zagrodzki (2017) article on “pluralpolicing in Paris: variations and pitfalls of cooperation between national andmunicipal police forces”, critically analyses how government manage andregulate plural policing. The table below shows the four differentconfigurations made to ease coordination process, and acts as a framework toguide the delegation of policing roles. In addition, the different policing agents must sign a”Parisian security contract” and “policing mission has been accompanied by agrowing apparatus of partnerships, coordination devices, shared procedures andgroup meetings” (Maillard and Zagrodzki, 2017, p.
58). The implementation of allthese rules and regulations is to ensure that both police and non-police actorsunderstand their roles and policing duties, additionally it is also to ensuresmooth operations without any internal conflicts. As Maillard and Zagrodzki(2017, p. 62 – 63) highlight the challenges in coordinating the differentsecurity agencies are; level of cooperation, professional reluctance to dealwith petty issues and the asymmetrical nature of relations. With furtherexplanation such as the different actors have differing level ofresponsibility, different standard operating procedure and differingperceptions. Henceforth, the cooperation between the different actors can be achallenge. However, if government put in effort in organising platform for moreinterinstitutional meetings, it can help make the policing community lessfragmented and provides more interactions for mutual understanding. Lastly, Lister and Jones (2016) article criticallyevaluate plural policing and the challenges of democratic accountability, they highlightthat policing not only have been pluralized but also increasingly marketized.
This changes in the landscape of policing create a new system of governance andaccountability, such as “policing commercially arranged and governed bymarket-based and privately contracted forms of accountability” (p. 196). Thechallenge described in the article is how there is “no neatcompartmentalisation of public and private policing resources deployed to’public’ or ‘private’ spaces”, the growing diversity of policing providers makeplural policing difficult to account for any discrepancy in treatment andequality. As different policing providers have different priorities andpolicing styles, and indicates that the current governance of plural policingtends to be “narrow style of managerial accountability” (p. 198). England andWales establishment of “Private Security Act 2001” is an example ofgovernmental efforts to rectify the lack of accountability in private securitysectors. The ‘Private Security Act 2001’ requires certain sectors in theindustry to have license, to continue their work operations.
However, criticismarise as some sectors such as security systems installers and in- house guardsare not considered, and sectors not included are eligible to opt for voluntarylicensing instead. The inconsistence and lack of strong enforcement from thegovernment signifies failure to make plural policing more accountable. FromLister and Jones (2016) article, I recognised the difficulty in making pluralpolicing more accountable, due to the power tension between public and privatefirms and the diversity of the policing roles makes distribution of policingpower hard to regulate. Given these points, the report aims of criticallyanalysing plural policing relationship with racial inequality, highlights the differentdimensions that plural policing has on racial minority. Furthermore, are themajor challenges faced by the States to govern and regulate plural policingwhich results to minority being target of unequal treatment andover-surveillance by the diverse policing providers. After typing the reportand looking through literatures and news media article on this issue, itfurther reinforced my thoughts on how tenacious racism can be when accompanied withpowerful structural agencies of society. It made me rethink the power thatpolice have and how the dispersion of power to private spheres, creates morefear for those targeted as potential ‘criminals’. The cases illustrated abovesuch as ‘shopping while black’ and denial of access to the nightclubs, make mereflect greatly on privileges and treatment others take for granted but for theminority there is a pre-requisite needed before they can receive the sametreatment.
Similarly, I was once ‘shadow’ by a sales person when I am doing mymarket field research for my school final year project, in a high-end store inION orchard. The experience of being under constant surveillance by the staffwas horrible and humiliating, it makes me upset and I swore never to patronisethat store even if I can afford to purchase the goods. I was targeted probablybecause I do not fit into their customer profile, and probably did not dress’rich’ enough to be considered as their potential customers. This experience Iam sharing is to show that I can relate to a small extend to how minority wouldhave felt to be under constant surveillance and worst to be excluded fromnormal shopping experience. Moreover, they are suspected without properevidences and often judge based on racial bias of another individual. Theconcept of plural policing, initially I was absolute with it’s benefit such ascommunity now have more rights in policing their own security and the privatesecurity sector provides additional sense of security for the community.However, after researching on the problems plural policing have, I realisedmany aspects I have neglected. I would say that what shock me most about pluralpolicing is the growth of private security industries, the fact that somecountries have more private securities personnel than the State policeofficers.
The private security industry which meant to be supplementarysecurity providers, have become the country primary security providers, whichis frightening. The governance and accountability of plural policing, make me feelthat there is much more to be done by the government in regulating pluralpolicing. For instance, I feel that the government need to place more emphasison coming out with legislation to ensure that diverse policing providersunderstand the importance of following a set of guidelines and standardoperating procedures. As for individuals that go about policing using their ownset of values and biases, they need to be made aware of the sanctions presentthat deter racial discriminatory acts against another individual. BibliographyAmerican Civil Liberties Union (2009) The Persistence of Racial and EthnicProfiling in the United States: A Follow-Up Report to the U.N.
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