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How policing in the UK has changed [infographic]

Policing in the United Kingdom is changing. Far from the traditionalism which defined the role of the police officer in the past, recent years have seen the force undergo wide-reaching alterations designed to shake off the Victoriana which entrenched UK policing in outdated practices, equipment, and organizational structure. In addition to policy-led modernization, extensive budgetary cuts in the wake of the 2007-2008 financial crisis have had significant ramifications for the future of policing. But what can be said of UK policing today?

The power that modern officers possess remains a contentious issue. In the post-9/11 world and more locally in the wake of the 7/7 bombings, UK police have been given extensive powers to combat the thereat of terror, such as those enshrined in the Terrorism Act 2006 which significantly extended stop and search powers and made the arrest of terror suspects much easier (though these anti-terror measures are of debatable efficacy). Along with contemporary concerns over accountability and openness – exemplified in changes regarding RIPA – the practice and procedure of UK policing today has very much been affected by anti-terror legislation.

Regarding the organisation of police, the introduction of PCSOs in 2002 and the steady increase in volunteer ‘Special Constables’ has meant that a large quota of today’s force is made up of roles that are fundamentally different to that of a police officer. Similarly the governing bodies that transcend regional forces have changed in recent times, most notably with the establishment of the National Crime Agency in 2013 which superseded other national law enforcement agencies in England and Wales. These new occupations and organisational bodies mark a notable difference from ways in which the force has operated previously.

So UK policing today has modernised and adapted in accordance with changes in police law and management, which in turn are reacting to the socio-economic developments that have entailed deep consequences for the United Kingdom. But is this how policing today ought to be? What else characterizes policing in recent times and, crucially, where should it be going? Let us know what you think via Twitter or in the comments section below. We look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Modern UK Policing Infographic 600px v2

Download a jpg or PDF of the infographic.

Disclaimer: In addition to anti-terror purposes, RIPA legislates for the interception of communications and surveillance in all investigations by the UK’s policing organizations (which may not necessarily concern terror threats). More information can be found here.

Headline image credit: Police, by Matty Ring. CC BY 2.0 via Flickr.

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