Navigation – Plan du site
9

Normalising the exceptional : British colonial policing cultures come home

L'exception devient la norme - les pratiques coloniales de police en métropole
Emma Bell

Résumé

Cet article cherche à étudier le transfert des cultures policières au sein de l’Empire britannique. Alors que ces cultures semblent de prime abord être très distinctes de celles de la mère patrie, elles partageant en réalité certaines caractéristiques. Loin d’être exceptionnelles, les pratiques policières coloniales qu’elles informent se sont progressivement normalisées. Dans l’ère postcoloniale, ces pratiques font partie d’une véritable industrie d’exportation, vendues à travers le monde. Cette tendance procède non seulement d’une logique commerciale mais aussi d’une logique politique dans le contexte de la crise du capitalisme contemporain.

Haut de page

Texte intégral

Introduction

1This paper examines colonial policing cultures, that particular ensemble of traditions and attitudes which informed police practice in the British colonies, mandates and protected territories throughout the long period of Empire. It begins by attempting to define policing cultures in the colonies, pinpointing key characteristics and looking at how these differed from policing cultures in Britain itself. It is argued that, far from being distinct, these cultures came to share (and indeed continue to share) much in common, as ‘exceptional’ police practices more usually deployed in the colonies came to be normalised within Britain itself. It will be shown that the influence of colonial policing cultures should not be seen as unidirectional, moving only from the colonies to the mother country. Today, there is evidence that colonial policing cultures and methods are now being exported from Britain throughout the world as part of the neocolonial expansion of commercial interests. Both at home and abroad, the exceptional police practices previously associated with colonial cultures have now become normalised, forming part of what is accepted as common sense on policing on the international scene.

Defining ‘policing culture’ in the colonies

  • 1 Robert Reiner, The Politics of the Police, Oxford, OUP, 2005, p. 85.

2Robert Reiner, an expert on British policing, has defined what he calls ‘cop culture’ as ‘an understanding of how police officers see the social world and their role in it’ 1. Yet, he notes that police culture is not just about police attitudes but also police practices. Indeed, culture cannot be entirely separated from methods since how these are applied in practice depends on the institutional culture in which they operate. The term ‘policing’ culture rather than ‘police’ culture is preferred here to refer to the culture of the police as an institution rather than to that of individual police officers, even if this obviously also impacts upon police practice. ‘Policing culture’ comprises the policing methods which are normalised within a particular institutional culture.

  • 2 Bankole A. Cole, ‘Post-Colonial Systems’ in Mawby, R.I., Policing Across the World: Issues for the (...)
  • 3 David Anderson and David Killingray, ‘Consent, coercion and colonial control: policing the Empire 1 (...)
  • 4 Cole, op. cit., p. 89.

3 Colonial policing culture was far from uniform, varying from one colony to the next. For example, policing culture in the white colonies of settlement tended to be largely civilian in nature (with the obvious exception of Ireland) whilst policing culture in the ‘colonies of rule’ was often paramilitary2. Indeed, the legislative structure in which the police operated varied across the Empire: there was no common system of law, even if piecemeal attempts had been made to transplant English law to the colonies3. Even within the same territory, different colonial policing cultures may have operated, with areas occupied by European settlers being policed quite differently from those occupied mostly by indigenous peoples4. Nonetheless, it is possible to identify some common characteristics of colonial policing cultures. It should be noted that these were not necessarily unique to the colonies but they were certainly more prevalent there.

  • 5 Ibid., p. 91.
  • 6 Ibid., p. 92.
  • 7 Georgina Sinclair, At the End of the Line: Colonial Policing and the Imperial Endgame 1945-80, Manc (...)

4 Colonial policing cultures are often seen as having been particularly marked by paramilitarism, as distinct from the unarmed, civilianised policing cultures thought to be common to Britain. Paramilitarism may be understood as a blurring of the boundaries between policing and army functions. The clearest example of this was during the ‘scramble for Africa’ when police forces and colonial armies were officially merged together to form the West African Frontier Force (controlling Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Ghana and the Gambia)5. The adoption of such policing tactics may be understood as being integral to the overtly political function of the police in the colonies which entailed protecting the colonial powers from public order disturbances. Yet, it would be a mistake to view colonial policing as being confined to such functions – colonial forces were also concerned with crime control but this ‘was generally secondary to the maintenance of internal security and public order’6. The use of paramilitary methods to protect the power of the colonial state was especially clear in Ireland where the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) was not only armed (even if the truncheon was more commonly carried than the handgun) but also adopted a military ethos characterised by regular drills and marching and was employed in protecting the interests of the British state during the War of Independence from 1919-217. According to Sinclair, it was this policing model which was adopted throughout the empire during the long period of decolonisation , lasting from the creation of the Irish Free State in 1921 until the early 1980s, in a last-ditch attempt to shore up British power.

  • 8 Cole, op. cit., p. 95.
  • 9 Graham Ellison and Conor O'Reilly, ‘From Empire to Iraq and the "War on terror": The Transplantatio (...)
  • 10 David Killingray and David Anderson, ‘An orderly retreat? Policing the end of empire?’ in Anderson, (...)
  • 11 Mark Brown, ‘The politics of penal excess and the echo of colonial penality’, Punishment and Societ (...)
  • 12 The military nature and political intrusiveness of the latter was considered to be inappropriate in (...)

5 Closely linked to paramilitary policing culture is the practice of intelligence-gathering. This became particularly widespread in the period of decolonisation as local forces sought to deal with political insurgency. Many colonies established police intelligence units with links to the British Special Branch to collect information on those whose activities were thought to threaten the political order8. The Calcutta Special Branch, for example, established by the Irish-born police commissioner, Sir Charles Tegart, was chiefly concerned with defeating Indian nationalism9. Indeed, Killingray and Anderson have noted that political intelligence-gathering ‘became a central aspect of police work’10 at this time although there is some evidence that intelligence-gathering was already employed in nineteenth-century India to monitor local tribes involved in theft and robbery11. The widespread use of intelligence-gathering reveals colonial policing culture as being marked by the surveillance of local populations, something that the English police, at least in theory, had always sought to avoid, originally for fear of being compared to the French gendarmes12.

  • 13 Brown, op. cit., p. 410.
  • 14 Cole, op. cit., p. 94.

6 The practices entailed in paramilitary-style policing and intelligence-gathering may be regarded as quite brutal and disproportionate. Indeed, Mark Brown has referred to ‘penal excess’ in the colonial context, not just referring to punishment practices but also to policing practices, using the example of the police control of semi-nomadic peasant tribes in India who were considered to be a threat to the prevailing social order on account of their refusal to participate in the colonial economy based on settled agricultural labour13. Under the Criminal Tribes Act of 1871, whole tribes could be classified by the police as criminal if just one member was found to be guilty of a criminal offence. Once classified as such, the tribes could be ordered to stay within a certain confined area and forcibly settled. Cole has also highlighted the use of excessive policing methods to control local populations, noting the widespread use of ‘illegal raids, pillage and extortion, corruption and mindless brutality’14.

  • 15 David Arnold, ‘Police Power and the Demise of British Rule in India, 1930-47’, in David M. Anderson (...)
  • 16 Sinclair, op. cit., pp. 70-72.
  • 17 M. Silvestri, ‘The Sinn Féin of India: Irish nationalism and the policing of revolutionary terroris (...)

7 The use of excessive policing methods against local populations thought to pose a threat to the social and political order of dependent territories rendered colonial policing culture distinctly political in nature. Policing functioned to legitimise British rule in a way that the army could not15, giving a ‘civilian face’ to what was essentially paramilitary rule. Colonial police forces were probably further legitimised by the process of localisation – the slow and gradual replacement of European by local officers16. Yet, in order to ensure that colonial forces acted in the best interests of the British state, control was often imposed from the centre. A formal attempt to centralise control and standardise police practice was made with the creation of the Colonial Police Service in 1936. In India, attempts at centralisation went right back to the rebellion of 1857, as the highly centralised Royal Irish Constabulary model was adopted17.

  • 18 For example, from the First World War onwards, as part of the policy of Indianisation of the Indian (...)
  • 19 As a European settler colony, Kenya was highly segregated along racial lines. Police officers who w (...)

8 The idea that local populations were often regarded as a threat to British power led the colonial police, as agents of the state, to regard many of these groups as ‘suspect populations’. In many cases, colonial policing culture reflected an institutionalised ethnic bias against indigenous populations, despite efforts to make colonial police forces more representative of the populations they policed18. Racial discrimination existed both within police forces themselves, which prevented local peoples from rising above inspector rank, and between police forces and local populations who were subject to stricter surveillance and control than white settler communities, particularly in Kenya, for example19.

9 It would thus appear that colonial policing cultures shared several common characteristics: paramilitarism; ‘penal excess’ as exemplified by the excessive surveillance of local populations and police brutality used against them; politicisation; centralisation; and ethnic bias. In what way and to what extent did these policing cultures differ from British policing culture in the homeland?

A distinctly British policing model?

  • 20 Ellison & O’Reilly, op. cit., p. 402.
  • 21 Cited by Silvestri, op. cit., p. 477. The Indian Office Official, Malcolm Seton, made his remark in (...)
  • 22 The RIC emerged out of the Peace Preservation Force established by the 1814 Act for the Better Exec (...)
  • 23 Reiner, op. cit., p. 38.
  • 24 Mike Brodgen, ‘The Emergence of the Police – The Colonial Dimension’, British Journal of Criminolog (...)
  • 25 Ellison & O’Reilly, op. cit., p. 399. Both men were raised in Ireland but later moved to England. M (...)
  • 26 Reiner, op. cit., p. 43.
  • 27 David Philips, ‘"A New Engine of Power and Authority": The Institutionalisation of Law-Enforcement (...)
  • 28 Sinclair, op. cit., p. 12.
  • 29 The term ‘British’ was often used interchangeably with ‘English’ when discussing a distinctive cons (...)
  • 30 Reiner, op. cit., p. 203.

10Just as in the dependent territories of the empire, it is difficult to speak of a single British policing culture. Although there was much discussion of a ‘British policing ethos’, considered as civilian and consensual in nature, there was actually considerable variation across the UK. In particular, it is often claimed that there was a distinct Irish policing model which seemed to have more in common with colonial than English policing cultures. Indeed, the Irish model is described as being ‘centralised, usually under direct political control, barracked, generally armed, and often military or quasi military in nature, with officers having recourse to wide emergency and “special” legal powers’20. The Royal Irish Constabulary, a ‘a drilled, semi-military force’ (in the words of an Indian Office official21) was created in 1822 (by the Constabulary Act) directly in response to the need to quell public disturbances which challenged the power of the colonial state in Ireland22. The new Metropolitan Police Force created in 1829 is often thought of as being fundamentally different from the Irish police in that its culture was permeated by a civilian, distinctly non-paramilitary ethos, symbolised by the fact that regular ‘bobbies’ did not carry pistols. Yet, there is evidence that Peel, who had been Chief Secretary for Ireland from 1812-1818, was to at least some extent inspired by the RIC. He certainly showed similar concerns when establishing both forces, i.e. the need to preserve public order (even if concerns about rising crime figures in general figured most prominently in his parliamentary speeches in favour of reform23). For Brogden, there were no ‘sharp polarities’ between the two forces. He claims that there were in practice ‘only marginal differences between the colonial police and nineteenth century British policing’24. It is surely no coincidence that the first joint commissioners of the Metropolitan Police were two Anglo-Irishmen, Charles Rowan and Richard Mayne25. Both forces aimed primarily to control problem populations26 and, just like their Irish counterparts, the Metropolitan Police quickly developed a surveillance role27. It should also be noted that some county police forces rejected the civilian policing model, adopting what they considered to be more effective military techniques. Even in London, some Metropolitan officers were exceptionally allowed to carry pistols where the beat was considered to be particularly dangerous28. All of this would suggest that Irish colonial policing cultures actually shared much in common with English policing cultures, with Ireland often providing the model. Perhaps there was no such thing as a unique British or even English policing model29. Reiner has gone so far as to assert that ‘the pacific image of the British bobby was a myth deliberately constructed in order to defuse the virulent opposition to the very idea of police in early nineteenth-century Britain’30.

11From Ireland to the rest of the Empire: exporting policing culture

  • 31 Arnold, 1977, op. cit., p. 102.
  • 32 Sinclair, op. cit.
  • 33 Killingray and Anderson, op. cit., p. 5. These insurgencies took place in 1956 and 1959 respectivel (...)
  • 34 Silvestri, op. cit. Whilst Bengali nationalist revolutionaries looked to Sinn Fein as the leaders o (...)
  • 35 Ellison & O’Reilly, p. 402.

12Perhaps then colonial policing cultures cannot be regarded as distinct from British policing cultures. It might be that this has something to do with the fact that both were significantly influenced by the Irish model. A number of historians have provided evidence to support this assertion. Arnold, for example, has suggested that ‘it was on the lines of the Royal Irish Constabulary that colonial governments built their paramilitary police’31. Sinclair has shown how a huge number of colonial police forces, starting with the Indian police force, were modelled along the lines of the RIC on account of its perceived expertise in counter-insurgency strategies32. Killingray and Anderson have noted how the British state learnt many lessons from the Irish with regard to intelligence-gathering when dealing with insurgents in places such as Cyprus and Nyasaland33. Silvestri notes the interesting two-way exchange of ideas between India and Ireland: whilst Indians were inspired by Irish rebel strategies, colonial officials borrowed Irish policing strategies when dealing with Indian rebels34. Ellison and O’Reilly convincingly demonstrate how the influence of Irish policing culture in the colonies represented an early stage in what has now become the globalisation of policing. They note the influence of Irish colonial policing in what is now Pakistan as early as 184335.

  • 36 Georgina Sinclair and Chris Williams, ‘Home and Away’: The Cross-Fertilisation between ‘Colonial’ a (...)
  • 37 Aogan Mulcahy, ‘The ‘Other’ Lessons from Ireland? Policing, Political Violence and Policy Transfer’ (...)

13 Yet, it is important to qualify these assertions by noting that sometimes it was British, rather than colonial Irish, policing cultures which influenced the colonies. The Colonial Office did seek to transplant more civilianised policing cultures from the mother country in an attempt to secure more legitimacy for the police in the colonies36. Later, the Metropolitan Police actually sought to ‘anglicise’ the RIC’s successor, the RUC, in Northern Ireland, also as part of an attempt to secure more legitimacy for a police force that had come to be seen as something of an embarrassment to Britain37. Nonetheless, it would seem that the greatest influence was in the other direction, with Irish colonial practices influencing Britain.

14From past to present: colonial policing cultures come home

  • 38 Paddy Hillyard, ‘Lessons from Ireland’ in Fine, Bob and Millar, Robert (eds.) Policing the Miners’ (...)

15In the past few decades in particular, it would seem that these colonial policing practices, tried and tested in the colonies, have once again returned to Britain, only this time it is not Irish policing culture which has been most influential but that of Northern Ireland. Hillyard in particular regards Northern Ireland as a testing ground for policing strategies which were later transferred to mainland Britain, notably during the Miners’ Strike of 1984-5. He highlights key parallels between the policing of that industrial dispute and the policing of the ‘Troubles’: ‘the form and style of policing adopted, the centrality of intelligence, the techniques of street control and the use of the criminal justice system to achieve political rather than judicial ends’38.

  • 39 Reiner, op. cit., p. 67.
  • 40 Paddy Hillyard and Janie Percy-Smith, The Coercive State, 1988, London, Fontana, p. 240.

16 Certainly, it is true that from the 1970s onwards, the English police began to become increasingly militarised. Already in 1965, the Metropolitan Police Special Patrol Group, which was to provide a model soon adopted by all other forces across the country, was formed along paramilitary lines to deal with public order problems. In the 1970s, all forces also developed militarised Police Support Units, used primarily to deal with political and industrial action39. In 1976, Roy Jenkins, as Labour Home Secretary, authorised the purchase of machine guns by Manchester Police40.

17 The influence of RUC and now PSNI policing culture on these mainland trends would seem to be notable: following the 1981 riots in Brixton and other major British cities such as Liverpool and Manchester, senior English police officers were sent on a mission to Northern Ireland to see what possible lessons in riot control could be learned from their colleagues41. More recently, during the English riots in the summer of 2011, David Cameron placed water cannons on stand-by, for use at 24 hours’ notice – this particular riot control tactic has been regularly used in Northern Ireland since 2001 but has not so far been used in the UK. The Prime Minister informed the Commons that he had sought advice from the PSNI and found it ‘enormously helpful’ to have the expertise of Sir Hugh Orde, the former PSNI Chief Constable, currently president of the Association of Chief Police Officers42. In practice, the English police have been equipped with plastic bullets, controversially used in Northern Ireland since the 1970s (resulting in 17 deaths)43. Although these have never actually been fired on the British mainland, the very fact the English police have stockpiles on standby and are trained and prepared to use them in exceptional situations, reflects a certain change in English police culture away from civilianisation.

  • 44 Their scope has been reduced but their substance remains largely the same. Firstly, due process wil (...)
  • 45 Although the indefinite imprisonment of foreign terrorist suspects without trial, introduced by the (...)

18 Other police tactics imported from Northern Ireland are more routinely used on the UK mainland, notably counter-terror measures. Many of the so-called ‘emergency’ measures introduced in Northern Ireland in the 1970s have now been normalised in the rest of the UK since the Terrorism Act 2000: pre-charge detention has been permanently increased to 14 days (under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012); terrorist, prevention and investigation measures (TPIMs44) subject foreign terrorist suspects to stringent measures such as curfews and travel bans without trial (reminiscent of internment45); and the police may stop and search terrorist suspects without justification in specially designated areas where a senior police officer suspects that an act of terrorism will take place.

  • 46 Paddy Hillyard, Suspect Community - People’s Experience of the Prevention of Terrorism Acts in Brit (...)
  • 47 Christina Pantazis and Simon Pemberton, “From the ‘Old’ to the ‘New’ Suspect Community: Examining t (...)
  • 48 House of Commons, 2009, <http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmselect/cmhaff/427/427.pdf> (date accessed 20 June 2013); Nicola Rollock, (...)

19 As in the colonies, certain populations are more likely than others to be subject to these ‘exceptional’ measures. Whilst the Irish were previously targeted by these measures as members of a ‘suspect community’, singled out for more draconian police treatment by virtue of their nationality alone46, it is now the Muslim community that is being singled out as a new ‘suspect community’ in Britain, represented as dangerous and threatening to the population at large47. This points to the continuation of a certain ethnic and racial bias in British policing culture. Indeed, the disproportionate number of black people targeted by police stop and search powers, for example, suggests that only limited progress has been made since the Macpherson Report described the British police as ‘institutionally racist’ in 199948.

  • 49 Reiner, op. cit.
  • 50 ‘Commissioners will be responsible for appointing the chief constable of their force, setting out l (...)
  • 51 See also Reiner pp.190-95.

20 All this suggests that English policing culture today is profoundly influenced by more militarised policing cultures tried and tested in Ireland and throughout the Empire. Since the disintegration of the Empire, it would seem that it is Northern Ireland which has provided the lead in influencing police culture on the mainland. All of the features of colonial policing cultures identified above now seem to be present in Britain, not just paramilitarism. There is evidence of ‘penal excess’ and ethnic bias. Furthermore, the police have become increasingly politicised in recent years, particularly since the 1970s as they have adopted more coercive tactics in order to protect the state from political protest and industrial action49. There are fears that elected Police and Crime Commissioners50 may accentuate this trend towards politicisation if they are tempted to adopt populist policies and interfere in the running of local police forces. Such concerns are linked to more general fears that the English police service is becoming increasingly centralised, with the Home Office being given ever-greater powers to set national objectives and issue performance targets51.

21 It would be a mistake to suggest that the colonies have been the only influence on British policing cultures – for example, David Cameron consulted with Bill Bratton, former New York and Los Angeles Police Commissioner, on his public order strategies – yet the exchange of ideas and personnel between Britain and her colonies and former colonies has undoubtedly been considerable.

Globalising policing cultures – creating an international norm?

  • 52 Ellison & O’Reilly, op cit., p. 420.

22Today, there is evidence that colonial policing cultures and methods are now being exported from Britain throughout the world. For example, Ellison and O’Reilly have noted the export of the post-conflict Northern Irish policing culture of the PSNI to foreign conflict zones, many of which may be found in the former territories of the Empire. Police officers from the PSNI have travelled to Iraq, for example, to offer their expertise as security consultants to private firms and as trainers for the new Iraqi Police52.

  • 53 Graham Ellison, ‘A Blueprint for Democratic Policing Anywhere in the World? Police Reform, Politica (...)

23 As I have argued, the exportation of policing cultures from Ireland is nothing new. However, there is now a new commercial dimension to this particular export business as private companies benefit from policing expertise and former police officers profit from the sale of their expertise to international security companies. But perhaps even this commercial dimension to the sharing of police cultures is not entirely new. Indeed, policing and commercial interests were always interlinked. During the process of colonisation, the institution of the police was often the first to be established in order to safeguard imperial trade53. It might be said that the police continue to serve such a role in countries such as Iraq where Western commercial interests are paramount. The exchange of colonial policing cultures can thus be regarded as form of neocolonialism as the police once again act to protect economic imperial interests.

  • 54 Cole, op. cit., p. 100.
  • 55 Stuart Hall, et al., Policing the Crisis: Mugging, The State, and Law and Order, London, Macmillan, (...)
  • 56 Reiner, op. cit.

24 This analysis may explain the export of policing cultures outwards from Britain (or Northern Ireland more specifically) but it does not help us to understand why colonial policing cultures have flowed inwards to Britain. Following Cole, it would be wrong to suggest that there has been any deliberate attempt on the part of the English police to import colonial policing cultures54. It is more likely that the English have simply come to rely on more authoritarian policing models such as those developed in Ireland and the colonies as a means of policing their own particular social and political crises. Indeed, the adoption of police methods commonly found in colonial policing cultures coincided with a breakdown in hegemony in the 1970s whereby the capitalist state found itself unable to maintain control via the usual mechanisms of consent as the post-war social order was challenged by industrial and political conflict and economic crisis55. This crisis of the post-war welfare state has yet to be resolved, undermining the very basis of consensual policing, i.e. the social integration of the now excluded classes who bear the brunt of police power. Indeed, Reiner sees social pacification as an essential precondition for policing by consent56. As society has become increasingly divided, the police have been forced to perform the function of border control between the excluded classes and the rest, and have consequently adopted (or perhaps revived) authoritarian policing methods previously reserved to the colonies. Indeed, in both contexts policing cultures have adapted to the particular needs of the capitalist imperialist state, shoring up its power in the face of crisis. The spread of authoritarian colonial policing cultures across the world may thus be understood as a desperate attempt to manage the more global crisis of contemporary capitalism.

Bibliography

Anderson, David, M., Killingray, David, ‘Consent, coercion and colonial control: policing the Empire 1830-1940’ in Anderson, D. M., Killingray, D., Policing the Empire: Government, Authority and Control, 1830-1940, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1991.

Arnold, David, ‘The Armed Police and Colonial Rule in South India, 1914-1947’, Modern Asian Studies, 1977, 11 (1) : 101-25.

Arnold, David, ‘Police Power and the Demise of British Rule in India, 1930-47’, in David M. Anderson and David Killingray (eds), Policing and Decolonisation: Politics, Nationalism, and the Police, 1917-65, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1992, p. 42-61.

Brodgen, Mike, ‘The Emergence of the Police – The Colonial Dimension’, British Journal of Criminology, 1987, 27 (1) : 4-14.

Brown, Mark, ‘The politics of penal excess and the echo of colonial penality’, Punishment and Society, 2002, 4 : 403-423.

Cole, Bankole, A., ‘Post-Colonial Systems’ in Mawby, R.I., Policing Across the World: Issues for the Twenty-first Century, London, UCL Press, 1999, p.88-108.

Ellison, Graham and O'Reilly, Conor, ‘From Empire to Iraq and the "War on terror": The Transplantation and Commodification of the (Northern) Irish Policing Experience’, Police Quarterly, 2008, 11 (4) : 395-426.

Ellison, Graham, ‘A Blueprint for Democratic Policing Anywhere in the World? Police Reform, Political Transition, and Conflict Resolution in Northern Ireland’, Police Quarterly, 2007, 10 (3) : 243-69.

Hall, Stuart et al., Policing the Crisis: Mugging, The State, and Law and Order, 1978, London, Macmillan.

Hillyard, Paddy, ‘Lessons from Ireland’ in Fine, Bob and Millar, Robert (eds.) Policing the Miners’ Strike, London, Lawrence and Wishart, 1987, p.177-187.

Hillyard, Paddy and Percy-Smith, Janie, The Coercive State, London, Fontana, 1988.

Hillyard, Paddy, Suspect Community - People’s Experience of the Prevention of Terrorism Acts in Britain, London, Pluto Press, 1993.

House of Commons Home Affairs Committee, The Macpherson Report—Ten Years On, Twelfth Report of Session 2008–09, HC 427, London, Stationery Office, 2009, <http://www.publications.parliament.uk/​pa/​cm200809/​cmselect/​cmhaff/​427/​427.pdf> (date accessed 20 June 2013).

Killingray, David and Anderson, David, ‘An orderly retreat? Policing the end of empire?’ in Anderson, David M. and Killingray, David, Policing and Decolonisation: Nationalism, Politics and the Police, 1917-65, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1992, p. 1-22.

Mulcahy, Aogan, ‘The ‘Other’ Lessons from Ireland? Policing, Political Violence and Policy Transfer’, Journal of European Criminology, 2005, 2 (2): 185–209.

Pantazis, Christina and Pemberton, Simon, “From the ‘Old’ to the ‘New’ Suspect Community: Examining the Impacts of Recent UK Counter-Terrorist Legislation”, British Journal of Criminology, 2009, 49 : 646-666.

Philips, David: ‘"A New Engine of Power and Authority": The Institutionalisation of Law-Enforcement in England 1780-1830’ in Gatrell et al. (eds.), Crime and the Law: The Social History of Crime in Western Europe since 1500, London, Europa Publications Ltd., 1980, 155-189.

Radzinowicz, Leon, A History of English Criminal Law and Its Administration from 1750, Vol. 3, London, Stevens, 1956.

Reiner, Robert, The Politics of the Police, Oxford, OUP, 2000.

Rollock, Nicola, The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry Ten Years On: A Critical Review of the Literature, London, Runnymede Trust, 2009,

<http://www.runnymedetrust.org/​uploads/​publications/​pdfs/​StephenLawrenceInquiry-2009.pdf> (date accessed 20 June 2013).

Silvestri, M., ‘The Sinn Féin of India: Irish nationalism and the policing of revolutionary terrorism in Bengal’, Journal of British Studies, 2000, 39 : 454-486.

Sinclair, Georgina, At the End of the Line: Colonial Policing and the Imperial Endgame 1945-80, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2006.

Sinclair, Georgina and Williams, Chris, ‘Home and Away’: The Cross-Fertilisation between ‘Colonial’ and ‘British’ Policing, 1921–85’, The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 2007, 35 (2) : 221-238.

Statewatch, 'Police use of plastic bullets would be "a recipe for disaster" ', 06 June 2012, <http://www.statewatch.org/​news/​2012/​jul/​04ni-plastic-bullets.htm> (date accessed 20 June 2013).

Haut de page

Notes

1 Robert Reiner, The Politics of the Police, Oxford, OUP, 2005, p. 85.

2 Bankole A. Cole, ‘Post-Colonial Systems’ in Mawby, R.I., Policing Across the World: Issues for the Twenty-first Century, London, UCL Press, 1999, p. 89.

3 David Anderson and David Killingray, ‘Consent, coercion and colonial control: policing the Empire 1830-1940’ in Anderson, David M. and Killingray, David Policing the Empire: Government, Authority and Control, 1830-1940, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1991, p. 5.

4 Cole, op. cit., p. 89.

5 Ibid., p. 91.

6 Ibid., p. 92.

7 Georgina Sinclair, At the End of the Line: Colonial Policing and the Imperial Endgame 1945-80, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2006, p. 16.

8 Cole, op. cit., p. 95.

9 Graham Ellison and Conor O'Reilly, ‘From Empire to Iraq and the "War on terror": The Transplantation and Commodification of the (Northern) Irish Policing Experience’, Police Quarterly, 2008, 11(4), p. 405.

10 David Killingray and David Anderson, ‘An orderly retreat? Policing the end of empire?’ in Anderson, David M. and Killingray, David, Policing and Decolonisation: Nationalism, Politics and the Police, 1917-65, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1992, p. 5.

11 Mark Brown, ‘The politics of penal excess and the echo of colonial penality’, Punishment and Society, 2002, 4, p. 410.

12 The military nature and political intrusiveness of the latter was considered to be inappropriate in a land which considered itself to be politically free. See Leon Radzinowicz, A History of English Criminal Law and Its Administration from 1750, Vol. 3, London, Stevens, 1956, pp. 539-74.

13 Brown, op. cit., p. 410.

14 Cole, op. cit., p. 94.

15 David Arnold, ‘Police Power and the Demise of British Rule in India, 1930-47’, in David M. Anderson and David Killingray (eds), Policing and Decolonisation: Politics, Nationalism, and the Police, 1917-65, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1992, p. 44; David Arnold, ‘The Armed Police and Colonial Rule in South India, 1914-1947’, Modern Asian Studies, 1977, 11(1) :101-25.

16 Sinclair, op. cit., pp. 70-72.

17 M. Silvestri, ‘The Sinn Féin of India: Irish nationalism and the policing of revolutionary terrorism in Bengal’, Journal of British Studies, 2000, 39, p. 477.

18 For example, from the First World War onwards, as part of the policy of Indianisation of the Indian Civil Service, attempts were made to facilitate the direct entry of Indians into the police service. See Sinclair, op. cit., p. 27.

19 As a European settler colony, Kenya was highly segregated along racial lines. Police officers who worked there spoke of being under significant pressure from white European colonisers to maintain these racial barriers by persecuting native Africans for the most minor of offences. See Sinclair, op. cit., p. 145.

20 Ellison & O’Reilly, op. cit., p. 402.

21 Cited by Silvestri, op. cit., p. 477. The Indian Office Official, Malcolm Seton, made his remark in 1922 at a time of considerable civil unrest in India. He hoped that some members of the RIC could be sent to India as experts in crowd control.

22 The RIC emerged out of the Peace Preservation Force established by the 1814 Act for the Better Execution of the Laws in Ireland to quell disturbances which the ordinary police forces had found hard to quell.

23 Reiner, op. cit., p. 38.

24 Mike Brodgen, ‘The Emergence of the Police – The Colonial Dimension’, British Journal of Criminology, 1987, 27(1), p. 9.

25 Ellison & O’Reilly, op. cit., p. 399. Both men were raised in Ireland but later moved to England. Mayne became a barrister at Lincoln’s Inn whilst Rowan became a Lieutenant-Colonel in the British army.

26 Reiner, op. cit., p. 43.

27 David Philips, ‘"A New Engine of Power and Authority": The Institutionalisation of Law-Enforcement in England 1780-1830’ in Gatrell et al. (eds.), Crime and the Law: The Social History of Crime in Western Europe since 1500, 1980, London, Europa Publications Ltd.

28 Sinclair, op. cit., p. 12.

29 The term ‘British’ was often used interchangeably with ‘English’ when discussing a distinctive consensual model of policing. Here, I try to show that there were variations even within the English policing model.

30 Reiner, op. cit., p. 203.

31 Arnold, 1977, op. cit., p. 102.

32 Sinclair, op. cit.

33 Killingray and Anderson, op. cit., p. 5. These insurgencies took place in 1956 and 1959 respectively, enabling the British government to draw lessons from the Anglo-Irish War/War of Independence of 1919-21. See Andrew R. Novo, 'Friend or foe? The Cyprus Police Force and the EOKA insurgency', Small Wars & Insurgencies, 23 (3), 2012, pp. 414-431, DOI:10.1080/09592318.2012.661609.

34 Silvestri, op. cit. Whilst Bengali nationalist revolutionaries looked to Sinn Fein as the leaders of the first successful insurgency against British colonial rule in the 1919-21 War, colonial officials under the direction Sir John Anderson (governor of Bengal, formerly joint under-secretary to the lord lieutenant of Ireland and member of the Irish Privy Council, from 1920-1922) learned from their experience of the war, borrowing the tactics that worked and avoiding those that did not, thus successfully putting down Bengali rebels in the 1930s.

35 Ellison & O’Reilly, p. 402.

36 Georgina Sinclair and Chris Williams, ‘Home and Away’: The Cross-Fertilisation between ‘Colonial’ and ‘British’ Policing, 1921–85’, The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 2007, 35:2, p. 223.

37 Aogan Mulcahy, ‘The ‘Other’ Lessons from Ireland? Policing, Political Violence and Policy Transfer’, Journal of European Criminology, 2005, 2 (2), p. 196.

38 Paddy Hillyard, ‘Lessons from Ireland’ in Fine, Bob and Millar, Robert (eds.) Policing the Miners’ Strike, 1987, London, Lawrence and Wishart, p. 178.

39 Reiner, op. cit., p. 67.

40 Paddy Hillyard and Janie Percy-Smith, The Coercive State, 1988, London, Fontana, p. 240.

41 Reiner, op. cit., p. 68. The report by Lord Scarman into the Brixton riots cited the breakdown in trust between the police and ethnic minorities as a major cause. See The Brixton Disorders, April 10-12 1981: Report of an Inquiry by the Rt. Hon. The Lord Scarman, O.B.E, London, HMSO, 1981.

42 Hansard, 11 Aug 2011: Column 1068,

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm110811/debtext/110811-0001.htm (accessed 20 June 2013).

43 Statewatch, 2012, http://www.statewatch.org/news/2012/jul/04ni-plastic-bullets.htm (date accessed 20 June 2013).

44 Their scope has been reduced but their substance remains largely the same. Firstly, due process will not be respected – as before, there will be no hearings. The only change is that the SoS must now have ‘reasonable grounds to believe’ rather than ‘reasonable grounds to suspect’ that a person may pose a terrorist threat before such an order is imposed. In both practical and legal terms, the difference is negligible. Secondly, some of the extra conditions which may be attached to the order have been removed (such as forced relocation, outright bans on internet and phone use and prohibitions on association with others) but many remain (electronic tagging, travel bans, limited house arrest, curfews - now referred to as "overnight residence requirements"). There will be a two-year limitation on TPIMs, but this is qualified (if SoS believes the person to still be a danger).

45 Although the indefinite imprisonment of foreign terrorist suspects without trial, introduced by the 2000 Act, was overruled by the House of Lords in 2004, the measures intended to replace such detention, notably control orders, can be similar in their physical and psychological effects to internment on account of the fact that suspects may be indefinitely detained for long periods of time in their own homes.

46 Paddy Hillyard, Suspect Community - People’s Experience of the Prevention of Terrorism Acts in Britain, London, Pluto Press, 1993.

47 Christina Pantazis and Simon Pemberton, “From the ‘Old’ to the ‘New’ Suspect Community: Examining the Impacts of Recent UK Counter-Terrorist Legislation”, British Journal of Criminology, 2009, 49: 646-666.

48 House of Commons, 2009, <http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmselect/cmhaff/427/427.pdf> (date accessed 20 June 2013); Nicola Rollock, The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry Ten Years On: A Critical Review of the Literature, 2009,

<http://www.runnymedetrust.org/uploads/publications/pdfs/StephenLawrenceInquiry-2009.pdf> (date accessed 20 June 2013).

49 Reiner, op. cit.

50 ‘Commissioners will be responsible for appointing the chief constable of their force, setting out local policing priorities, reporting annually on progress, and setting out the force budget and community safety grants. The government says commissioners are not there to run local police forces but to hold them to account.’

51 See also Reiner pp.190-95.

52 Ellison & O’Reilly, op cit., p. 420.

53 Graham Ellison, ‘A Blueprint for Democratic Policing Anywhere in the World? Police Reform, Political Transition, and Conflict Resolution in Northern Ireland’, 2007, Police Quarterly, Vol. 10, No. 3, p. 67.

54 Cole, op. cit., p. 100.

55 Stuart Hall, et al., Policing the Crisis: Mugging, The State, and Law and Order, London, Macmillan, 1978.

56 Reiner, op. cit.

Haut de page

Pour citer cet article

Référence électronique

Emma Bell, « Normalising the exceptional : British colonial policing cultures come home », Mémoire(s), identité(s), marginalité(s) dans le monde occidental contemporain [En ligne], 10 | 2013, document 9, mis en ligne le 25 juillet 2013, consulté le 26 novembre 2014. URL : http://mimmoc.revues.org/1286

Haut de page

Auteur

Emma Bell

Emma Bell est maître de conférences en civilisation britannique à l’université de Savoie. Ses recherches portent sur la politique pénale et son contexte sociopolitique. Elle est auteur d’un livre intitulé Criminal Justice and Neoliberalism (Basingstoke and New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), membre du comité éditorial du Howard Journal of Criminal Justice et coordinatrice du European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control.

Haut de page

Droits d’auteur

Tous droits réservés

Haut de page