Journal article: Democratic policing: A conceptual framework

Democratic policing, as opposed to regime policing, must meet at least three requirements: there is democratic accountability of and for the police; the police adhere to the rule of law; and the police behave in a manner that is procedurally fair in service of the public. The article presents a conceptual framework of nine dimensions applicable to different contexts with a view to facilitate policies and practices towards democratic policing. It is argued that the ultimate result being sought is a legitimate police service. If legitimacy is the result, then trust is the outcome preceding it. Legitimacy is dependent on the public’s trust that State power will be used in the public interest. Public trust therefore fulfils an important legitimising function. Levels of trust in the police are driven by the police’s ability and performance record with reference to three outputs: objectivity, empathy and responsivity. The latter three outputs flow from five input variables, namely: knowledge of what works in creating a safer society from a policing perspective; rights-based policing; accountability of the policing (inclusive of transparency); efficiency and effectiveness of resource utilisation; and the police as citizens also entitled to rights and protections. The utility of the conceptual framework lies in providing a coherent and linked-up view to analyse police organisations and support the development of reform proposals.

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