Police Authority And The Police Service Essay

1689 Words Apr 21st, 2016 null Page
The British police service has notoriously been subjected to allegations of corruption and miscarriages of justice: allegations that would undoubtedly ruin their reputation as a legitimate service that maintains authority over everyone. Taking this into account, it calls into question why should society obey the police (Tankebe 2012). Ultimately, if legitimacy is a product of how the police treat the public, and how they make their decisions when they are exercising their regulatory authority (Tyler 2011), but reports suggest that the police are often guilty of treating individuals unfairly and unjust; then it would be fair to suggest that the police have no legitimacy. With this in mind, Harkin (2015) argues that the purpose of police legitimacy research is to understand when police authority is justified; thus suggesting that there is a link between these two concepts. As a result, this essay will critically evaluate whether legitimacy is the very foundation of police authority. Or whether police authority is granted regardless of their perceived legitimacy, simply due to the fact that the police are a law enforcement agency and therefore given authority by the state. To add emphasis to this argument, this essay will draw on two examples of key issues in policing that threaten the legitimacy and authority of the police: racism and violence.
Firstly, it would be important to understand what is meant by the term ‘legitimacy’. Most research defines legitimacy as the right…

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