Police authorities, accountability, and citizenship

2014-07-02T14:20:17Z (GMT) by Mike Stephens Floyd Millen
Policing has recently attracted a great deal of controversy set against the recent wave of student disturbances and the use of paramilitary tactics to disperse, contain, and kettle protestors. Moreover, the controversial application of stop and search powers under the Terrorism Act 2000 has raised further questions about the accountability of the police. The responsibility of holding the police to account currently falls to the 43 police authorities operating across England and Wales. This article draws on ground-breaking research on police authorities using questionnaire and in-depth interview data to outline just how it is that police authority members approach their duties and responsibilities. It outlines the role and potential of police authorities to influence police policy and operations and discusses how the work of police authorities has impacted on participation by local citizens. Our starting position is that citizen participation is a prerequisite for the effective delivery of accountable policing. This has serious consequences for the proposed Police and Crime Commissioners, which are intended to replace police authorities in November 2012.