Investigation of policing policy in relation to 'domestic violence' in London in the 1980s
This thesis is an examination of the social construction of the social response to a social problem. The social problem is refered to as 'domestic violence' and the social response refers to the police response. The first chapter of the thesis constructs a theoretical approach grounded in the sociology of knowledge. Drawing on some of the classical sociological literature, the ideas of historians and philosophers of science, political philosophy and current social theory the concept of 'linguistic-authority-structure' is synthesized. Subsequent chapters apply the theoretical framework that this concept implies to illuminate the unfolding history of the issue of domestic violence. The versions of the social problem as they were articulated on different institutional sites (including the Women's Refuge Movement, social science, the law, the police and several others relevant) from the late-1960s to the mid-1980s are traced in the second third and forth chapters. The thesis documents the international trade in information about the issue. Of cenral importance is the importation of a deterrence paradigm emergent from an experimental project conducted by police researchers in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The importation of these ideas was partly instrumental in persuading police policy makers in Great Britain to announce policy changes regarding the policing of doemstic violence. This formation of a paradigmatic police response to domestic violence is located at a historically low ebb in the legitimacy of British Policing. The fifth chapter charts the history of post-war British Policing. Drawing on sociological accounts of operational policing, and the relevant criminological literature, this chapter illuminates the emergent political contestability of the police institution. The sixth chapter shows how, in this context, the policy regarding the policing of domestic violence was generated. Two chapters, seven and eight, are concerned with the actual police response to calls for service regarding interpersonal violence and in particular violence between cohabiting partners. These chapters make use of semi-structured interviews with police officers and an analysis of police paperwork procedures to illuminate police practices with regard to these calls for service. The two remaining chapters continue the historical analysis up to the end of the 1980s.