The Canadian Review of Policing Research (2004)

ISSN: 1710 6915


Christopher Murphy, Editor

If the summaries of policing theory and policy contained in this section are any indication, this is one area of Canadian policing research and scholarship that is active and innovative. Academic theorizing about police and policing policy remains a Canadian tradition and strength.

Some of the Canadian academics featured in this collection have well-established international reputations for their scholarly work, while others are in the process of establishing theirs. We have summaries of work on or by Richard Ericson, Clifford Shearing and Phillip Stenning. It is noteworthy, however, that all three have now left Canada, suggesting that despite the present vigour of policing research, there are limits to a policing scholar’s career in Canada. Fortunately, some Canadian policing scholars remain and are represented by submissions from Margaret Beare and Scott Burbidge. And we are particularly pleased to have submissions from the new generation of Canadian policing scholars such as William de Lint, George Rigakos, Kevin Haggerty, Dennis Cooley and Curtis Clark. They are already developing their own distinctive contributions to the body of policing knowledge in Canada.

A striking feature of the summaries we received for this section is the diversity of subject matter that is now considered “policing”. This validates our decision to call this journal the Canadian Review of “Policing” and not “Police” Research. Our decision was based on the assumption that policing in this late-modern era is a broad, multi-dimensional activity that comes in varied institutional and social forms. For reasons largely beyond their control, the public police are becoming less dominant in society, as other public and private agencies of security and policing become more pervasive and powerful. There has thus been a shift in research and policy interest from public to other forms of private and trans-national policing. Consequently, the changing roles and composition of public and private policing is a theme in a number of these reviews.

Cooley’s summary of his soon to be published book on a number of policing research studies commissioned by the Law Commission of Canada examines the implications of the expansion of private policing and security in Canada. This text promises to frame the academic and policy debate over the role and governance of private security in this country for the next few years. Rigakos provides a summary of his research on an overlooked but ubiquitous form of private security, the “bouncer”, and the policing of public entertainment and consumption. Schneider describes his research on a “high end”, private sector investigative agency specializing in forensic accounting and anti- money laundering (AML) services. Such a “boutique” policing service, existing thanks to recent money-laundering legislation, suggests another new type of public-private police service, with its own special legal and public accountability challenges. It is not surprising then that Burbidge writes about the implications for the public good of this increasingly influential private policing regime, and the troubling lack of public governance over its operations.

The other review articles reflect the diverse social and political forces that are influencing current public policing policy and practice. They describe an evolving public police model responding to a continually changing environment. Stenning assesses 40 years of Canadian police response to the challenges of policing a multicultural Canadian society. He describes a mixed bag of policies and programs for managing race relations that will need to evolve even further as society becomes ever more diverse. Haggerty reviews an article, co-authored with Richard Ericson, which critically assesses the growing influence of military technique and technology on domestic policing. Beare summarizes a wide range of articles in her book, which critically assess domestic and international police and government responses to global organized crime and money laundering. Collectively, the articles in the book question the nature of the problem and the way governments, police and private security have responded. For his part, de Lint describes the new ways in which the public police are portrayed. Contemporary policing policy puts the emphasis on community and problem-oriented policing, while academic analysis describes them as risk or information workers, and so on. He argues that despite police functions becoming more varied in adapting to new technologies and circumstances, their core societal task remains unchanged: the maintenance of a politically-defined social order.

All of these summaries represent important examples of contemporary Canadian policing theory and policy research. While perhaps representing only a sample of the diverse academic work on Canadian policing, they nevertheless provide a sound indication that policing scholarship remains actively engaged in exploring the critical policing issues facing this country today.