Developments in the Privatisation of Policing in England and Wales and the Netherlands*

치안활동의 민영화 현상에 관하여

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  • ABSTRACT

    Recently, ‘policing family’ has been increasingly referenced as a way of understanding the actors involved and the relations among them. This paper looks at the policing family in relation to how new members acquire powers normally associated with the traditional police. Two examples are analysed in this study. One is the Community Safety Accreditation Scheme in the UK. The other is the rise of Special Investigative Officers in the Netherlands. Both developments give u valuable information on current trends in the privatisation of policing. The case in the Netherlands is perhaps a case of pluralisation but not necessarily wholesale privatisation of police powers, something that is perhaps more the case in the UK where, possibly for that reason, it attracts more controversy. The two cases of the UK and the Netherlands have meaningful implications for South Korea in which the discussion of privatisation of policing has begun recently.


    최근 다양하고 방대한 치안활동 담당주체 및 이들 간의 관계를 이해하기 위해 ‘치안활동 가족 (policing family)’이라는 개념이 흔히 원용된다. 이 연구에서는 비교사례연구를 통해 이러한 치안활동 가족을 ‘새로운 구성원들’이 기존의 전통적 경찰이 지니고 있던 권한들을 어떻게 습득하게 되는지의 관점에서 살펴보았다. 본 연구에서 사용된 비교사례는 영국의 지역사회안전인가제도(Community Safety Accreditation Schemes: CSAS)와 네덜란드의 ‘특별수사관제도(Special Investigative Officers: SIO)’인데, 이들은 모두 사적 개인과 조직에 특정한 경찰권한을 부여하는 제도로서 치안활동의 민영화 관해 의미하는 바가 크다. 영국의 인가제도와 네덜란드의 특별수사관 제도의 차이점을 살펴보면, 먼저 그 규모 면에서 큰 차이가 남을 알 수 있다. 즉, 네덜란드의 특별수사관 인력 규모(약 26,000명)는 정규경찰의 절반에 육박하는데 비해 영국의 인가소지자(약 1,500명)는 정규경찰의 극히 일부에 불과하였다. 그리고 영국의 경우 지역경찰이 인가권한을 갖는데 비해, 네덜란드에서는 법무부가 인가권한을 가지고 있었다. 또 네덜란드의 경우 특별수사관제도는 경찰권한의 대대적인 민영화보다는 치안활동의 다원화를 목적으로 하고 있는데 비해 영국의 인가제도는 보다 급격한 치안활동의 민영화로 볼 수 있었다. 결과적으로, 네덜란드의 특별수사관 제도는 오랜 기간 지속되어 온 제도로서 법집행 및 지역사회 안전을 담당하는 많은 공무원의 역할을 강조하는 것임에 비해, 영국의 인가제도는 치안의 민영화를 위한 비교적 새로운 제도로서 앞으로 영국 경찰이 이러한 제도에 익숙해지기 위해서는 많은 노력이 필요할 것으로 보인다. 이 연구에서 살펴본 영국과 네덜란드의 사례들은 치안활동의 민영화가 논의되기 시작한 우리나라에 있어서도 시사하는 바가 크다고 할 수 있다.

  • KEYWORD

    Privatisation of policing , Pluralisation of Policing , Policing family , Community Safety Accreditation Schemes , Special Investigative Officers

  • Ⅰ. Introduction

    In a recent publication Stenning1) quotes David Bayley2) saying that policing provision has expanded ‘up, down and sideways’. It refers to the increasing expansion and diversification of groups and organisations who engage in policing. The expansion ‘upwards’ refers to the emergence of supra-national police providers; ‘down’ Stenning3) explains, refers to highly localised and community-based arrangements and ‘sideways’ refers to a ‘dizzying array of national and regional domestic governmental policing and security organisations’.

    Because of this increased diversity reference is commonly made to the “policing family” as a way of understanding the multitude of actors involved and the relations among them.4) The term family is strangely apt as it conjures up images of closeness and harmony but at the same time of tension and shifting relationships, with conflict or estrangement never far away.

    1)Philip Stenning, “Governance and Accountability in a Plural Policing Environment: The Story So Far”, Policing, Vol. 3, 2009, p. 22.  2)David Bailey, “Police Reform as Foreign Policy”, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, Vol. 38, 2005, pp. 210-212.  3)Philip Stenning, op.cit, p. 23.  4)Over the recent years, social housing providers and residents in local communities have engaged in diverse initiatives of the plural policing in response to anti-social behaviour. Based on a study that reviewed a range of different models of plural policing programmes in the United Kingdom, Crawford and Lister (2004) designated the various actors of the policing as “policing family.” Adam Crawford, and Stuart Lister, The Extended Policing Family: Visible Patrols in Residential Areas,(York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2004.).

    Ⅱ. Comparative Research into Policing and Diversification

    This paper will look at the policing family in relation to how ‘new members’ acquire powers normally associated with the traditional police. Before that, however, we will make a number of observations of the rise in private policing and the ways in which the traditional police has responded to this emergence. We will do that from a comparative perspective. Comparative research, in its simplest sense compares social phenomena in more than one context or setting.5) Durkheim6) was of course correct when he argued that all sociology is essentially comparative and the same is true for comparative criminology: we always seek to understand something in terms of something else. However, that complicates setting apart comparative criminology as a separate and identifiable endeavour. An often used definition of comparative criminology is provided by Beirne and Nelken7) who define comparative criminology as ‘the systematic and theoretically informed comparison of crime in two or more cultures’.

    In order to gain a deeper understanding of private policing a comparative perspective is essential. It is interesting to note that private policing is discussed in relation to a great many national contexts including, recently, China. Zhong and Grabosky8) attribute the emergence of private policing in China to a number of factors. They include high crime rates and limited police resources; the security needs of newly established foreign-owned firms or joint ventures in the period of economic reform; and the changing realities regarding social order in the economic reform area. Initially, since the 1980s the private policing sector was very much under the control of the public security service, under the diktat that only public security organs can establish security service companies. Their ethos should be ‘social profits first and economic profits second’ with the Chinese Ministry of Security initially seeking to keep close control on the proliferation of such efforts. Recently however, Zhong and Grabosky9) report, the approach is more hands-off, and the development of policing evolves towards integration. The example of Beijing is of interesting where patrolling occurs through over 35,000 officials: 3,300 patrolling police officers at the city level, 4,100 patrolling officers from the local police stations, 1,600 people’s armed police officers, 1,900 traffic police officers, 9,400 social order joint protection team members, 12,000security guards, and 2,900 auxiliary police officers. Hence, the argument has been made that the period between the emergence of the security service industry to the promulgation and a 2008 Draft Ordinance has been one of transition from a monopoly of public policing to more comprehensive integration of public/private policing.10)

    We can only surmise what effect the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing may have had as a catalyst for these developments but it may well be substantial.11) Zhong and Grabosky12) highlight the increasing presence, importance and acceptance of the security service industry in China a trend that they envisage is set to continue.

    Whereas the development of private policing in China is perhaps less on the academic radar, there is a large body of researching examining the size and nature of private security in many Western nations. Button13) and Van Steden and Sarre14) provide data to show that in a number of EU nations the size of the private security sector is already larger than the ‘regular’ police. The ratio is probably much more drastically skewed in many developing nations.

    The Small Arms Survey 201115) presents arresting statistics. Based on a review of 70 countries, this study estimates that the formal private security sector employs between 19.5 and 25.5million people worldwide. The number of private security personnel has grown at a fast pace since the mid-1980s and exceeds the number of police officers at the global level. The private security sector has been booming since the mid-1980s and continues to grow steadily. Recent estimates show that the security market is worth about USD 100–165 billion per year, and that it has been growing at an annual rate of 7–8 per cent. The scale of growth is further illustrated by significant increases in the number of personnel employed over time and across regions.16)

    Examining the Small Arms Survey17), the country with the highest number of private security personnel in real terms are said to be India with 7 million, China with 5 million, the US with 2 million, and the Russian Federation with 800,000. Countries that score in terms of policy/private security ratio include India, Angola, Australia, Honduras, South Africa and the US, with private security officers far outnumbering the traditional police. But of course such comparative statistics hide as much as they reveal, due to differing counting rules and definitional vagaries. Such statistics are invariably contested. That said a global picture of growth is undisputed. This growth is a global not a regional development. Although there are isolated examples of governments seeking to reverse that trend, the rise of the private security sector may well seem unstoppable. As an example of that, we can look to Afghanistan. President Karzai spoke out strongly against private security in Afghanistan. He had argued that private security firms are a law onto themselves and put Afghan citizens at risk. Initially he ordered private security firms to cease all operations in December 2010. Latterly this deadline was relaxed18) and subsequently, it seems that a compromise was reached, so that the official aim was restated to be a scaling down of the industry and a tightening of regulation. Perhaps the lesson from this is that national government can only affect the industry so much, when powerful international actors have a big stake in the matter, both as consumers of security services such as the UN and as providers.19)

    Stenning20) alludes to the dogmatic and orthodox stance in looking at the differences between public and private security as principled and their operations separate. He says:

    It is clear that such a rigid distinction is often not tenable. The relation between public and private security providers can rest in fact on a number of footings. In terms of links, Johnston21) already in 1992 describes these links as taking the form of interpersonal links; joint operations; the exchange or buying in of services; the granting of special powers to private agents; public bodies hiring private agents and new organisational forms. In terms of relationships, Joh22) pointed out the relation between public and private organisations often takes the form of ‘passive non-cooperation’, due to deep seated mutual suspicion and avoidance. A decade later after his book on the Rebirth of Private Policing, Johnston23) discusses the emerging notion of the police family and the police extended family. He argues that in Britain, the shift to pluralisation has been convoluted with opinions within the police hovering between ‘grudging recognition’ and by ‘denigration’. Interestingly Johnston’s article24) appeared just after the Police Reform Act 200225) came into force that we shall discuss later as it opened the door for a further phase of the pluralisation of policing in the UK.

    Following on from Johnston’s comments this paper now moves from the general to the specific. One of Johnston’s linkages between the public and private sector can centre on the award of certain powers to private individuals and organisations. We will discuss two of such examples. The first is the Community Safety Accreditation Scheme in the UK. The second is the rise of ‘buitengewone opsporingsambtenaren’(Special Investigative Officers) in the Netherlands. The reason for focusing on the cases of England and Wales and the Netherlands is because these are the most proactive countries among the European nations in awarding the power to individuals and private organisations to manage the issues related to public safety. Both developments are interesting in their own right. In addition, they may tell us something about current trends in the legal aspects of the pluralisation of policing.

    5)Francis Pakes, Comparative Criminal Justice(Cullompton: Willan, 2nd edition, 2010), p. 112.; Francis Pakes, “The Comparative Method in Globalised Criminology”, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, Vol. 43, 2010, p. 18.  6)Émile Durkheim, The Rules of Sociological Method,(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1895).  7)Piers Beirne, and David Nelken, Issues in Comparative Criminology(Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 1997), p. 15.  8)Lena Y. Zhong, and Peter N. Grabosky, “The Pluralisation of Policing and the Rise of Private Policing in China”, Crime, Law and Social Change, Vol. 52, 2009, p. 438.  9)Ibid, pp. 441-442.  10)Ibid, p. 439.  11)See also Francis Pakes, Comparative Criminal Justice(Cullompton: Willan, 2nd edition, 2010), p. 172.  12)Lena Y. Zhong, and Peter N. Grabosky, op.cit, p. 442.  13)Mark Button, “Assessing the Regulation of the Private Security Industry across Europe”, European Journal of Criminology, Vol. 4, 2007, pp. 115-121.  14)Ronald van Stedena, and Rick Sarreb, “The Growth of Private Security: Trends in the European Union”, Security Journal, Vol. 20, 2007, pp. 229-230.  15)Small Arms Survey, Small Arms Survey 2011: States of Security (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), p. 87.  16)Ibid, p. 58.  17)Ibid, p. 72.  18)BBC News, “Afghanistan Delays Ban on Private Security Firms”, BBC News 27 October 2010, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-11634618, Accessed 10 July 2012.  19)BBC News, “Karzai Abandons Plan to Scrap Private Security Firms”, BBC News 6 December 2010, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-11925855, Accessed 17 July 2012.  20)Philip Stenning, op.cit, p. 23.  21)Les Johnston, The Rebirth of Private Policing(London: Routledge, 1992), pp. 98-105.  22)Elizabeth E. Joh, “The Paradox of Private Policing”, Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Vol. 95, 2004, pp. 71-73.  23)Les Johnston, op.cit, p 126.  24)Les Johnston, “From ‘Pluralisation’ to ‘the Police Extended Family’: Discourses on the Governance of Community Policing in Britain”, International Journal of the Sociology of Law, Vol. 31, 2003, pp. 185-204.  25)Home Office, Police Reform Act 2002, London: Home Office.

    Ⅲ. The Community Safety Accreditation Scheme in the UK

    The Community Safety Accreditation Schemes(CSAS) have been made possible through the Police Reform Act 2002 in the UK. The idea is that non police personnel(so-called accredited employees) may be granted a limited set of powers traditionally reserved for the police. It is intended to allow for these individuals through their organisation to be more effective in contributing to community safety, and to, in cooperation with the police, tackle crime, disorder and antisocial behaviour. The scheme is intended for employers whose staff undertake roles in the broad realm of community safety and security. They can be public, private or third sector also known as voluntary sector. The individuals that can be accredited include street wardens, housing association wardens, security guards, hospital and university staff, fire and rescue personnel, railway personnel, parking attendants and stewards involved with stadium and arena safety.

    Any organisation wishing to have staff accredited needs to develop a protocol that addresses methods of communication and information sharing with the police. It also needs to lay out organisational and operational issues, as well as rules on confidentiality and various other safeguards. Legal liability regarding the conduct of the accredited persons rests with the employer not the police.

    The accreditation is granted by the local Chief Police Officer. There are different procedures for applying for accreditation for public sector and private sector employers. These processes by themselves illustrate the diversification of policing in the UK. Public bodies should apply to their local Chief Officer. Private organisations need to apply to a limited company set up by ACPO, the influential Association of Chief Police Officers. The company is called ACPO CPI Ltd. Chief Officers need to be satisfied of the following before they can make an accreditation26):

    The accredited persons may only exercise the powers conferred on them in a uniform that has been approved by the Force Chief Officer and wearing a badge as specified by the Secretary of State. Uniforms should be distinct from police uniforms and those of police community support officers. Every accredited person will carry an identification card that sets out the powers bestowed to them. Accredited persons do not have any special powers of arrest or detention. Some of the powers are listed below27):

    The first power listed, relating to disorder can cover a multitude of actions, including wasting police time; and knowingly giving a false alarm to a fire brigade. Interestingly, the Metropolitan Police Federation, a major representative body for police officers in the capital argued strongly against the CSAS. Chairman Peter Smyth did not mince his words. He called the power to issue fines for ‘wasting police time’ by non police officers ‘lunacy’. In addition, and not without irony he notes28):

    Indeed, the bestowing of police-esque powers to non police individuals raises pertinent questions of accountability. At the same time, the tone of Smyth’s critique29) demonstrates the unease felt about extending the powers of non police personnel more generally.

    A number of years after the law allowed for the accreditation, it does seem as if the CSAS has not been taken up as much as perhaps expected. An audit published by the Home Office30) showed that 21 out of 42 police forces had granted Accredited Person status to a total of 1,406 people in 95 organisations. Nineteen of the 95 employing organisations were private companies. Essex Police had accredited the most people, 291 individuals in 25 organisations. But it seems that many of the forces have not utilised the provisions at all.

    Despite that, it is clear that the bestowing of powers to non police personnel in a variety of organisations is an interesting and potentially important development in relation to the pluralisation of policing in England and Wales. It may be highly pertinent that the police in the person of the Chief Officer is in fact that key holder to the accreditation. It is the police organisation itself that decides which organisations employees can be elevated to ‘quasi police status’. It would be fascinating to research attitudes towards the CSAS among Chief Officers as well as within bodies, public, private and third sector. That may tell us more about the dynamics of the power bestowment process as well as about the interactions between accredited pesons, their organisations and the police.

    26)ACPO, Community Safety Accreditation Scheme Private Sector Companies(London: ACPO CPI Ltd, 2006), pp. 4-5.  27)Ibid, pp. 18-20.  28)Peter Smyth, “Lunacy in the Policy Family”, London: Police Federation, http://www.metfed.org.uk/news?id=318, 2011, Accessed 22 July 2012.  29)Ibid.  30)Home Office, Reducing the Risk of Violent Crime(London: National Audit Office, 2008), pp. 23-24.

    Ⅳ. Special Investigative Officers in the Netherlands

    In the Netherlands, some 26,000 Special Investigative Officers (SIOs) who work for one of over 1,000 agencies have been awarded police-esque powers. The vast majority of these people are civil servants. Although the SIOs have existed since 1994, a new SIO regulatory framework was established in 2010. The aim of the new framework is to bring cohesion to the field after years of proliferation. In order to achieve that six operational areas have been defined and SIOs have a range of powers which differ per operational area. These areas are: The Public Space; Environmental Issues; Education; Public Transport; Employment and Care; Generic; and Police, with the latter referring to civilians within the traditional police. Each domain is associated with specific roles and powers. The domain of education, for instance involves the enforcement in relation to truancy. There are specific educational requirements for each domain, which are in the process of being established and there is a basic education that applies to all SIOs. The powers afforded include the power to establish a person’s identity, to write and sign a ‘proces verbaal’, a legal document with evidential status that forms the backbone of the Dutch inquisitorial legal system, issue fines and last but not least, they have the power to arrest individuals when there is reasonable suspicion of a criminal offence. For certain areas, SIOs may be authorised to use pepper spray, and carry and use a baton and hand cuffs to highlight that SIOs may represent a fundamental augmentation of what is often thought of as the police’s monopoly on legally using violence in society. SIOs wear a distinctive badge.31)

    To take an example from public transport, the The Hague Tram Company HTM employs 130 SIOs who can use violence in the course of duty and another 20 who can search passengers and use hand cuffs. Another example, in Rotterdam in 2007 100 non-sworn, i.e., civilian employees of the Rotterdam police were given powers to take straightforward crime reports over the telephone, a task usually reserved for sworn officers.32)

    Applicants need to pass a screening process undertaken by a service set up by the Ministry of Justice. They need to pass the educational requirements and in order for SIO status to be gained the employing organisation needs to argue for the necessity of these arrangements. Necessity must be argued for a task or role to be preferably or by necessity for the police to do.

    The work of SIOs is officially overseen by the Public Prosecutor Office. Daily supervision is in the hands of the police, through local chief constables. The framework of daily supervision is in the process of being further specified. There is a complaints procedure against the conduct of SIOs. Complaints are directed to the organisation that employs them which as a matter of course should forward a copy to police and prosecution office. The latter two agencies provide the employer with an opinion regarding the perceived validity of the complaint which the employer should weigh in their disposal. This opinion is of an advisory nature only. The employers handling of the complaint and the outcome can be challenged at the National Ombudsman.

    The rise of the SIO is explained through public insecurity, the diversification and intensification of security and surveillance needs. A benefit alleged to come from SIOs working with police is that they add extra pairs of ears and eyes in relation to both criminal intelligence and community safety. The vision for what SIOs should become is this33):

    This blurp may pose questions as to how private providers fit into this picture. The first question must be whether private provider fits into the SIO framework at all. On a very limited scale, they do. One way in which this occurs is for employees of private security firms to be seconded or bought in by state services, such as local authorities. G4S34) in particular advertises that model to local authorities. It however seems that the take up is not very high. Ronald van Steeden(the executive of G4S)35) has argued that within many local councils there is a reluctance to embrace the private sector through the secondment of SIOs.

    Thus, whilst the SIO model seems more successful than the CSAS model in terms of take up, it must be argued that most SIO individuals are public servants with a previously existing community safety remit. The powers afforded should enhance the effectiveness with which they can carry out such tasks. In terms of an enlargement of the Dutch policing family, this is not perceived to be that radical a departure. Van Steden calls for rigorous research into the actual daily practice of SIO work. It thus far seems that the arrangement have not allowed private firms a very firm foot in the door. The possibilities for that to grow are present but may have to go against a pervasive communitarian trend in the Netherlands, used to imagery of a strong and benevolent state. The idea of private enterprise assuming policing powers is likely to meet with political and ideological resistance. This is due to the Netherlands’ traditionally proactive nature and the fact that the country has emphasised its function to exert control over the interest groups.

    31)Ministerie van Binnehnaddse Zaken Koninkrijksrelaties, Politie: Policing in Netherlands, Police and Safety Regions Department(Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, 2009), pp. 53-56.  32)Francis Pakes, Comparative Criminal Justice, Cullompton(Willan, 2nd edition, 2010), pp. 142-145.  33)Ibid, pp. 132-133.  34)G4S(formerly Group 4 Securicor) is a British multinational security services company headquartered in UK. It is the world's largest security company measured by revenues and has operations in around 125 countries. With over 657,000 employees, it is the world's third-largest private sector employer(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G4S, Accessed 21 Sep 2012).  35)Personal interview, 16 Sep 2011.

    Ⅴ. Conclusion

    A number of interesting observations on the developments in England and Wales and the Netherlands are worth making. The first is that when we compare the CSAS in England and Wales and SIOs we see a differential in terms of scale with some 26,000 operating in the Netherlands versus less than 1,500 in the UK. In the Netherlands they number roughly half the size of the police force whereas in the UK accredited individuals represent a fraction. We are perhaps not comparing the two identical systems.

    Firstly, CSAS still seems a novelty that in particular the police need to come to terms with. In the Netherlands SIOs are perhaps more a continuation of ongoing processes that emphasise the law enforcement and community safety role of many officials, from train conductors to environmental or health and safety inspectors to forestry commission officials. Most of these individuals work for well established organisations that are part of, or in the public mind strongly associated with, the state. The involvement of the private sector as SIOs is at this point marginal, but that may change in future. It is important that the accreditation process in both countries reflect traditional configurations of power and authority. In the UK, accreditation is owned by the local police. In the Netherlands daily supervision is a policing matter but accreditation, the key to accreditation is with the Ministry of Justice whereas there is a supervisory role for the public prosecutor as well, reflecting the inquisitorial way of organisation criminal investigation, not unlike is the case in Japan. It also means that accreditation is left to local bodies in the UK(although under ACPO guidelines and with a specific ACPO body for private providers), although the extent to which local authorities engage with SIOs does seem to differ considerably.36) The case in the Netherlands is a case of pluralisation but not necessarily wholesale privatisation of police powers, something that is perhaps more the case in the UK where, possibly for that reason, it attracts more controversy.

    Further research, perhaps of an ethnographic nature might yield valuable insight into the actual goings on in the daily life of SIOs and accredited individuals. At the same time, research into the attitudes of both police and accredited persons/SIOs could be valuable as would formal and informal interactions between the two. Such research could establish how the extending policing family, at present is, as the saying goes, keeping it all together.

    Particularly, the policy measures implemented by England and Wales to supplement the police activities with the development of the private security industry can be a fine example for Korea which is faced with many difficulties in providing quality police services with the existing workforce. In the field of police service co-production, the “police” and “citizens” are regarded as the main actors of public safety services. However, while the need for its adoption being justified in Korea, the country lacks a clear guideline for activation of private security and police service co-production. Therefore, foreign cases, especially the CSAS of England and Wales can be a good model to follow for stimulating the development of police service co-production in Korea.

    36)Van Steden, Personal interview, 16 Sep 2011.

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