Police, Crime and Order: The Case of Stop and Search
Ben Bradford, Beatrice Jauregui, Ian Loader and Jonny Steinberg (eds.) The SAGE Handbook of Global Policing. London: SAGE, summer 2016
46 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2015
Date Written: July 29, 2015
In this chapter we revisit and extend discussion about the relation of the police to the key political concepts of ‘crime’ and ‘order’ using the case of the police power of stop and search/frisk. We select this power as a case study because its exercise is laden with implications for how we understand the overarching purpose of the police and seek to control and govern police work. Using evidence on the social and spatial distribution of stop and search from several jurisdictions, we contest two legitimating fictions about this power – that it is a tool of crime detection and that it can be subject to effective legal regulation. The evidence, we argue, suggests that stop and search is about control and the assertion of order and the effort to do this implicates not only ‘fighting crime’ but also regulating and disciplining populations based on who they are, not how they behave. Given this, we argue, stop and search is best understood as an aspect of The Police Power recently theorized by Markus Dubber (2005) – a potentially limitless, uncontrollable, extra-legal power to do what is necessary to monitor and control marginal populations. In conclusion, we spell out the regulatory implications of understanding stop and search in these terms.
Keywords: crime, police, marginality, order, stop and search
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