London, SE11 5RR United Kingdom
“The problem is not police training, police diversity, or police methods. The problem is the dramatic and unprecedented expansion and intensity of policing in the last forty years, a fundamental shift in the role of police in society. The problem is policing itself.”
The Police Foundation is delighted to welcome Alex S. Vitale, Professor of Sociology and Coordinator of the Policing & Social Justice Project at Brooklyn College, to discuss his new book ‘The End of Policing’ (Verso, 2017).
‘The End of Policing’ begins with a history of the institution of policing on both sides of the Atlantic and outlines how over the past four decades there has been a significant shift in its nature. Vitale provides a number of examples of the most pressing social ills of the modern age (homelessness, drug addiction, mental health) and argues that the police are not the best mechanism through which to address them. He offers a variety of alternatives to enforcement-focused policing: the legalization of drugs, an increase in the use of community-led restorative justice and a shift away from treating mental health crises and homelessness as ‘offences’ worthy of criminalization. The book concludes with Vitale articulating his vision that “questions the basic role of police in society” and asks its audience to critically assess precisely what it is the police are for.
Due its radical call for a complete overhaul of the criminal justice and healthcare systems, Vitale’s book is likely to provoke a strong response from across the political spectrum. While it approaches the subject through a primarily American lens there are significant insights of use to UK policing practitioners and researchers.
We hope that this event will provide an environment in which serving police officers, academic researchers and policy makers can debate the important and controversial issues raised in the book. The seminar will start with Professor Vitale outlining his arguments with time for questions and discussion after his presentation.