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  • Author or Editor: Adam White x
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The post-financial crisis politics of austerity have required police forces to make unprecedented savings at a rapid pace. In response, some forces have turned to the market, outsourcing back office and frontline functions to commercial enterprises which promise to deliver the same service (or more) for less. This trend has unsurprisingly captured the attention of policing scholars who have begun to explore issues of policy, politics, accountability and service delivery in outsourced areas. This chapter adds another variable into the equation: labour force vulnerability. Specifically, it compares vulnerability in outsourced and non-outsourced frontline roles in police custody suites. It argues that in addition to traditional police labour force vulnerabilities such as the inherent complexity of police work, limited resources, lack of training and feeling over-scrutinised, those working in austerity-era outsourced roles may also suffer from identity crises, unwanted media attention and a particular kind of prejudice from detainees. In so doing, it makes a new contribution to the emergent literature on police outsourcing.

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The growth of domestic private security in advanced democratic countries has resulted in a paradox. While the market is seen to provide a solution to the inefficient production of a key public service, it simultaneously challenges the liberal belief in a universal and publicly guaranteed social order. The argument of this article is twofold: first, that this paradox has created tensions within the sphere of regulatory governance; and second, that these tensions have given rise to a distinctive politics of security regulation. Through this argument, the article makes important new connections between the security governance and regulation literatures.

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Police–academic partnerships have developed significantly over the past decade or so, spurred on by the expansion of the evidence-based policing movement, the increasing value attached to impactful research in the academy, the ascendance of the professionalisation agenda in the police, and the growing necessity of cross-sectoral collaborations under conditions of post-financial crisis austerity. This trend has given rise to a burgeoning literature in the discipline of criminology which is concerned with charting the progress of these partnerships and setting out the ideal conditions for their future expansion.

Aims and objectives

we advance a sympathetic critique of this literature, adding a note of caution to its largely optimistic outlook.


we do this by combining a narrative review of the literature on police–academic partnerships with insights from elsewhere in the social sciences and observations from our experience of running the International Strand of the N8 Policing Research Partnership.

Findings and discussion

while we recognise that police–academic partnerships have certainly come a long way, and have the capacity to make important contributions to police work, we argue that they remain ‘fragile’ alliances, beset with fractious occupational cultures, unreliable funding streams and unsustainable inter-institutional relationships. We also reason that the structures underpinning this ‘fragility’ do not represent problems to be overcome, for they help to protect the integrity of the two professions.


we conclude by offering pragmatic measures for sustaining police–academic partnerships during those difficult periods characterised by cultural dissonance, a paucity of funding and the turnover of key personnel.

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