From the vantage point of five decades back, endorsing private policing agencies in today’s world to collaborate with the public policing would be a real surprise. History shows that there are difficult to reconcile issues from this uncritical advocacy to the uncertainty about private policing that dominated mid-20th century. Understanding the evolution of private policing by looking at major events helps in understanding its popularity and acceptance today.
Evolution of Private Policing Meaning
Private security and private police are often used interchangeably to describe in-house security but it should be noted that private policing focuses more on contract security. The private policing functions in today’s world are similar to the public police activities (Dempsey, 2010).
It is easy to assume that private security is a modern day creation because of sophistication and growth of technologies used. However, policing in private organization has a long history especially for the case with market economies result in competition causing growth of private police (Pastor, 2003). The evolution of policing in the US and Britain followed similar stages. There were two types of policing where communal watch was established to protect community property and warn people of imminent danger; they were mainly referred to as ‘the watch’. The informal security was for hire to collect debts, chase criminals among other things.
Important Historical developments
The focus of this essay is on the events or historical occurrences that caused governments or communities to create the centralized, bureaucratic policing systems. Essentially, there was industrial revolution that led to growth of cities. Countries like the United States were no longer filled with small urban centers but expanding cities (Celluci, 2011). Urbanization came with its own unique problems that saw the old informal ‘watch’ get outgrown. The system was inadequate in controlling disorder. The crime rate was high in the urban centers and formation of mob violence worsened the security concern (Pastor, 2003). Public disorderly activities like prostitution and drunkenness were rampant and more visible but difficult to control. Evidence of really serious crime is lacking thus evolution of modern policing in private and public is not necessarily due to crime per se.
The reason private policing evolved and got replaced by public policing and its coming back to overtake the public police is ‘disorder’. The definition varies depending on who is describing the term. The mercantile interests in 19th century shaped America, hence tax collection, and need for political influence developed. The bureaucratic policing institutions emerged to protect the economic interest of the powerful individuals (Dempsey, 2010). They designed the policing bodies to gain social control but not necessarily to solve crimes. The private policing was very disorganized and involved in crimes. Commercial elites wanted a means to create stable and orderly workforce where business could be run without many risks (Gaines & Kappeler, 2011). They also wanted to avoid the inconveniences of protecting their business by transferring the responsibility from private sector to the government.
The state controlled policing developed to protect the people from disorder. Earlier on private security helped to protect property and businesses. Property crime was very high and private security helped to retrieve stolen goods and provided information to the police thus helping to solve numerous cases free of charge. During this time, wealthy merchants hired armed gunmen to safeguard their property as such the private policing was established.
Celluci, T.A. (2011). A Guide to Innovative Public-Private Partnerships. Toronto CA: The Scarecrow Press
Dempsey, J. (2010). Introduction to Private Security. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage learning
Gaines, L.K., & Kappeler, V.E. (2011). Policing in America (7th Ed.).Waltham, MA: Anderson Publishing
Pastor, J.F. (2003). The privatization of police in America: An analysis and case study. Jefferson, N.C: Mcfarland.