ThePrivatization of Policing: Two Views
by Brian Forst and Peter K. Manning
Georgetown University Press, 1999
Paper: 978-0-87840-735-4
Library of Congress Classification HV9950.F67 1999
Dewey Decimal Classification 363.20973


The increasing reliance on private security services raises questions about the effects of privatization on the quality of public police forces, particularly in high-crime, low-income areas. In an effective pro-and-con format, two experts on policing offer two strikingly different perspectives on this trend towards privatization. In the process, they provide an unusually thoughtful discussion of the origins of both the public police and the private security sectors, the forces behind the recent growth of private security operations, and the risks to public safety posed by privatization.

In his critique of privatization, Peter K. Manning focuses on issues of free market theory and management practices such as Total Quality Management that he believes are harmful to the traditional police mandate to control crime. He questions the appropriateness of strategies that emphasize service to consumers. For Brian Forst, the free market paradigm and economic incentives do not carry the same stigma. He argues that neither public nor private policing should have a monopoly on law enforcement activities, and he predicts an even more varied mix of public and private police activities than are currently available.

Following the two main sections of the book, each author assesses the other's contribution, reflecting on not just their points of departure but also on the areas in which they agree. The breadth and depth of the discussion makes this book essential for both scholars and practitioners interested in policing generally and privatization in particular.

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