Does the attitude of the police cause crime?

We see many news stories where the character of someone arrested by police is laid bare. However, not much evidence or empirical research exists that examines the role the officer played when making the arrest; and indeed whether their attitude was the explosive factor in the incident. Accordingly, this article will examine the nature of the decision to make an arrest, and why the need for this examination is paramount in order to prevent a division between the police and its public - which in the UK is already underway.

Many of the research studies which have examined police decisions to arrest suspected offenders have tended to concentrate on detailed analyses of the characteristics of the persons arrested, compared with those whom no formal action is taken by the police, and on the personal interaction which surrounds the arrest decision. Alternatively, other studies have focused on the organisational and occupational pressures upon the police to exercise their arrest discretion according to certain expectations.

We need to re-address that imbalance, and clarify how police behaviour leads to arrests which will undoubtedly cause a division between the police and the public they serve.

Skolnick (1966) found during his research that the highest proportion of respondents (39%) gave "disrespectful behaviour" as the reason for force being thought to be necessary in an arrest situation, directed particularly against "wise-guys" who think they know more than the officer, talk back or are insulting. This is an important factor when considering rising crime figures; we must examine whether crime is actually rising, or whether the police have lost their way and are making unjustified arrests to compensate for a feeling of impotence. Many arrests occur in the heat of a situation in which tempers are flared. Police officers are human like the rest of us, and are as susceptible to this as any other member of society; but their powers create an imbalance set firmly against the citizen.

A police officer's flaring temper will not result in his or her arrest, while the citizen won't have any redress. This situation is simply unjust.

Controlling any situation is paramount to settle and prevent any further possibility of a disturbance. In order to maintain control, the role of the police is constantly being assessed and any imbalances found are counteracted - well, that's what we would all like to believe. Assuming that police control and authority have been established in a particular situation, to what extent is there a secondary handling problem of what to do next? This is the situation in which many arrests occur: all seems quiet, but a simple misjudged statement made by the officer, directed wrongly or thoughtlessly towards the suspected offender, and then mis-interpreted will undoubtedly lead to an arrest. The arrest is usually for Breach of the Peace or assaulting a constable in the execution of their duty.

By reacting this way, the officer has gained respect (if only in their own eyes) and they have gained control. His power (such cases almost always involve male officers) has been firmly established, and when he gets back to his colleagues he is once again a man amongst men.

Such incidents have a lasting effect upon community relations and how the public see the role of policing within its community. To maintain excellent community relations the police need to be constantly aware of the attitudes they are expressing whilst in contact with the public. If they constantly abuse their authority and arrest merely because the officer was unable to be dominant, then respect will not be given freely, and the police will have to work to earn it back.

Karen Clark Stapleton




Re: Does the attitude of the police cause crime?
Posted by Anonymous (92.4.xx.xx) on Tue 13 Apr 2010 at 15:22
Another brilliant article. A question which I think is paramount is the degree of certain personality characteristics among police officers relative to the general population - authoritarian and controlling traits and need-for-dominance to name but a few.

Proper selection methods would weed out those attracted to policing for egotistical reasons, who are more likely to provoke and carry out unnecessary arrests, harm the public, cause more 'crime', and damage public confidence in the police.
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Re: Does the attitude of the police cause crime?
Posted by Anonymous (90.208.xx.xx) on Tue 27 Apr 2010 at 17:44
Blair Peach was killed unlawfully at an anti National Front demonstration in Southall, West London, in 1979. by a serving police officer. Riot police deliberately lied to officers investigating the death of the anti-racism activist, a Scotland Yard report has revealed, so we must ask why has the Metropolitan Police force confirmed that nobody involved would face prosecution.
Unlawful killing is a most serious allegation and one would hope that the police officer concerned would face charges as to that effect yet we are to understand that much of the report was redacted to prevent scrutiny by anyone wishing to realise the truth of what happened on the fateful day Blair Peach died. If a serving Police officer lies to avoid prosecution then they must face trail in the very least for perverting the course of justice or we have in operation within the UK a Police State. We do not have a statute of limitations as in the USA so no matter how long a crime is left undetected the CPS have a duty to every member of society to serve justice fairly and equitably were a known offender is found by Police. Consider this, we have no right to silence in England and Wales today that civil right was eroded quite some time ago, so when the Police keep silent we should derive the same level of guilt attached to civilians within society when they do the same. It confirms by this case and that of many others like Charles De Menezes that the Police are being given more rights than civilians when they face criminal sanctions and this must stop. The Police should not be immune to prosecution either serving or retired, they should not be judged differently than anyone else and those who believe that the thin blue line is special should be removed from the post they hold immediately.

Re: Does the attitude of the police cause crime?
Posted by Anonymous (90.209.xx.xx) on Fri 18 Jun 2010 at 07:07
with yet another miscarriage of justice (Warren Blackwell) due to police failing to disclose the real evidence

clearly so

Re: Does the attitude of the police cause crime?
Posted by Anonymous (90.209.xx.xx) on Thu 11 Aug 2011 at 14:03
Dear Editor
I am rather at a loss as to what makes our PM tick, at first glance he appears to be a caring compassionate human being yet his rhetoric often leaves one is dismay. I shall clarify, he continually talks about banning people from one activity to another, he garbles on about lack of humanity and gang culture. In essence has he totally been blind as to why these riots have occurred. At this juncture I have to state I do condemn all acts of mindless thuggery and criminal damage for what on the surface to many within society feel is nonsensical. I implore people to take a very deep look as to what is happening within the UK. Firstly after a series of bad banking decisions the most vulnerable within society, the disabled, the mentally ill the poorer and many within ethnic minorities feel they are being punished for what is a speculative banking system that only the rich could ever enjoy.They do have a point. Secondly the way to ensure people in Govt. take notice is to cause mayhem and destruction and The IRA are living proof of that. Thirdly the youth of today have very little to look forward to and it is not their fault that bankers became essentially greedy making huge debts for us all. It's our youth who are rebelling against the oppression being bombarded against them by an increasingly more rich friendly coalition.Its the youth who feel that they receive unjust punishment from the Police in many inner city areas, ask yourself why this Govt have not yet tackled the illegality of retention of DNA ! Yet when an MP demands his is destroyed they do it ???
Fairness and equity in the UK have long been regarded as the mainstay of our fundamental human rights but recently much of this has been eroded by the urination contest by some MPs who feel it necessary to constantly update criminal legislation when the present statute books are overwhelmed and should not be further burgeoned.
Mr Cameron for much of his benign rhetoric since coming to office simply shows him to be an upper class twit who understands very little of what is happening within society beyond the door at number 10.I for one would like for him to address the non impartiality of the IPCC who appear to issue 'official' statements without gaining insight of facts beforehand. Address the way Policing is performed within England and Wales and start to redress the imbalances within our legal system that allow such alarming disparity in sentencing from one location to another. Address Police structure, much of our Police service is a waste of money, attending courses they really do not need and stop Chief Constables empire building.But far more importantly stop Chief Constables issuing statement that in the least give the public the image of lying police yet again.We all need faith in a police service that functions equitably what we have at the moment is one that literally shoots from the hip, is untrustworthy in the eyes of its public and appears to have a get out of jail card when they commit illegal acts.
The more we legislate against the public the more we craete crtiminals, is this really the way to approach the social uprising .... I think not.

Reverend Karen Clark-Stapleton
20 Serpentine Rd

Re: Does the attitude of the police cause crime?
Posted by johnqpublican (87.194.xx.xx) on Tue 13 Apr 2010 at 15:32 [ Send Message ]

An interesting article, thank you.

It's interesting partly because it inspires two quite different instinctive reactions. Firstly, you're completely right. The vast majority of officers I've dealt with in Britain have been calm, secure, well-trained and very professional; they stand out by comparison with the street coppers in any of France, italy, or the USA. However, I've also dealt with the other sort, the one who joined up for the badge and the gun and is still fuming that British police don't carry them. And then there's TSG: entire, formally-trained units full of that attitude, by design.

Secondly; I also know the policing habits of the Third World from unfortuante experience, and when the policeman is drunk and carrying an AK-47, plus doesn't speak French all that well and is holding your passport upside down because he can't read, you learn very very fast that the correct way of dealing with the police is politely, respectfully, and calmly. Even if it turns out after the fact that they were not legally allowed to shoot you, you're still dead. That means that in my own interactions with the constabulary I have followed this strategy, and it may be why I've had reasonable expriences with English coppers. Swearing at the police is stupid, as is physically fighting with them.

Protesters stand with arms raised in front of baton charges, chanting "this is not a riot". Sometimes, doing the right thing means the police will hurt you; and because this is true the UK police are losing the trust of the people they protect. But assaulting coppers is still bloody stupid in very nearly any circumstance.

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Posted by Anonymous (91.214.xx.xx) on Wed 25 May 2011 at 19:07

Re: Does the attitude of the police cause crime?
Posted by Anonymous (86.184.xx.xx) on Mon 19 Apr 2010 at 00:10
I was walking home from a night out and had no intention but to go home and get to bed. A police car pulled up in front of me and claimed i was on drugs and searched me. They found nothing but insisted i gave them my name and address. I refused and they arrested me. I got a drunk and disorderly charge and a fixed penalty notice. Please, I would love to know how this is protecting the public?
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Posted by Anonymous (91.214.xx.xx) on Wed 25 May 2011 at 15:42

Posted by Anonymous (91.214.xx.xx) on Wed 25 May 2011 at 20:44
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Posted by Anonymous (91.214.xx.xx) on Wed 25 May 2011 at 22:24
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