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Vulnerability and Policing: Rethinking the Role and Limits of the Police

Police are increasingly called upon to manage a host of social ills and vulnerable people, often filling gaps left by the withdrawal of other public and third sector services. Yet, there remains a distinct lack of critical assessment of what problems the police are expected ...

Published onJun 26, 2024
Vulnerability and Policing: Rethinking the Role and Limits of the Police
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Abstract

Police are increasingly called upon to manage a host of social ills and vulnerable people, often filling gaps left by the withdrawal of other public and third sector services. Yet, there remains a distinct lack of critical assessment of what problems the police are expected to solve and whether they are the most appropriate agency to do so. This article highlights the need to rethink policing through multilateral networks that explicitly locate police within broader tasks of public safety and the protection of vulnerable citizens. It argues for a whole-system response that harnesses the roles of diverse public, private and voluntary organisations and clarifies the parameters of police within that system. It explores the opportunities and challenges that attend to delimiting the police role through recent developments and debates concerning responses to mental health-related problems and the ‘Right Care, Right Person’ agreement. It concludes with some thoughts on how we might recast, through the lens of vulnerability, a decentred role for police within a wider system of public safety.

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