Police and policing in Europe

Centralization, pluralization, Europeanization

Authored by: René Lévy

The Routledge Handbook of European Criminology

Print publication date:  July  2013
Online publication date:  August  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415685849
eBook ISBN: 9780203083505
Adobe ISBN: 9781136185496


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A comparative analysis of the police in Europe is, for a host of reasons, a complex undertaking. The first difficulty is the vagueness of the term ‘police’ itself. The remark made by Bayley some time ago is even more pertinent today: ‘Organizations called police perform different functions in different countries; different organizations in the same country carry out police duties; police units handle non-police duties just as police duties are handled by non-police personnel’ (Bayley 1975: 328). One can imagine the difficulty when it comes to covering the situation in some thirty countries! An additional problem is the difficulty in gathering reliable data in a sector in which reforms are frequent: publications that claim to provide an overall view are rapidly outdated; moreover, the diversity of European languages serves to limit access to national documents that deal with the question; and the development of research on the police varies greatly from one country to the next, which by no means facilitates comparison. 2

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