5.2.5.3 A Softer Approach to Policing

As new pressures arise, there is a tendency to introduce new restrictions on people’s liberty.  An alternative approach is to encourage the police to make more use of their status as figures of authority to give troublemakers a ‘good ticking off’, which would be applying moral influence rather than creating the confrontation that is inevitably associated with the formal recording of a crime.

Historically this version of policing was encouraged, as described in the Television Heaven review of the Dixon of Dock Green series:

“George Dixon was a policeman of the old school … a ‘Community Copper’ before the term had even been invented.

Dixon of Dock Green was the final representative of a moralistically paternalistic Britain, whose decline had arguably begun in the immediate aftermath of World War II.”

That image is now widely seen as outdated, and it might not even be possible in today’s society, but a softer approach might be better than a continued escalation of policing and surveillance – which are a threat to the civil liberties that the police should be trying to protect.

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This is a current page, from the Patterns of Power Edition 3a book, © PatternsofPower.org, 2020.  An archived copy of it is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/5253a.htm