Policing by consent in the 1980s : national initiatives and local adaptation in Sussex
This thesis analyses "policing by consent" as an ideal of legitimate and effective public service provision, and the influence of that ideal on policymaking to reform policing methods, structures and powers in Britain during the 1980s. It considers the relevance of "policing by consent" both to the processes of policy initiation and adoption at the national level and to the practices of policy implementation at the local level in one rural provincial police force. The thesis explains the incoherent nature of the reforms adopted and the conflicting goals of the various participants in the policy debates. The ambiguity of the concept of "policing by consent" allowed different objectives to be pursued behind a discourse common to most of the participants. Improving the public's estimation of the police service was only one goal of the policy makers; increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of the 43 police forces of England and Wales was an equally important objective. The thesis explores and explains the non-coincidence of the aims and preoccupations of the national policy-makers with those of many of the police officers responsible for implementing the reforms on the ground. By analysing how police officers in a non-crisis area, a rural county, react to and interpret both the reforms and the discourse about "policing by consent", this thesis extends and complements existing studies of public opinion and police attitudes in problem urban areas. If those officers feel less isolated than their urban colleagues they nonetheless resent both the imposition of policies irrelevant to their local circumstances and their own loss of self-esteem because of association with the negative public image of an increasingly "nationalised" police service.