Zero Tolerance Policing


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RESEARCHING CRIMINAL JUSTICE SERIES
Zero tolerance policing
Maurice Punch

Zero tolerance policing
Maurice Punch

First published in Great Britain in 2007 by The Policy Press
The Policy Press University of Bristol Fourth Floor, Beacon House Queen’s Road Bristol BS8 1QU UK
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© Maurice Punch 2007
ISBN 978 1 84742 055 8
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Cover image courtesy of iStockphoto® Cover design by Qube Design Associates, Bristol Printed in Great Britain by Latimer Trend, Plymouth

To the memory of Colin Cramphorn and Tom Williamson

Contents
Preface...................................................................................................................................................................vi Acknowledgements ....................................................................................................................................vii Notes on the author..................................................................................................................................viii Summary..............................................................................................................................................................ix 1 Introduction............................................................................................... 1 2 The New York ‘miracle’..........................................................................13 3 Zero tolerance policing: UK and the Netherlands............................. 23 UK..........................................................................................................................................................................23 The Netherlands...........................................................................................................................................27 4 Conclusion................................................................................................37 References.................................................................................................... 47 Appendix: The Dutch police...................................................................... 53


Zero tolerance policing
Preface
From the mid-1970s onwards, I became acquainted with the criminal justice world in the Netherlands through research, teaching and conferences. I conducted research in Amsterdam in the period 1974-80 (Punch, 1979a, 1985), taught Dutch police officers until the mid-1980s and later became involved in projects with the police in Utrecht and Amsterdam. In 1995 I helped to write Toekomst Gezocht for the Dutch Police Foundation for Society and Safety (SMVP, 1995) which was published in translation as Searching for a Future (Punch et al, 1998); the Dutch Police had just been through a major reorganisation, there was something of a loss of direction and this work presented a perspective for policing in the future. More recently, I have concentrated on developments in policing in the UK and the US. Two years ago, I received an assignment from the Police Research Programme (Programma Politie en Wetenschap, which is funded by the Dutch Ministry of the Interior in The Hague) on the ‘transfer’ of zero tolerance policing from abroad. This volume is based on the Dutch report for that project, Punch (2006a) Van ‘Alles Mag’ Naar ‘Zero Tolerance’: Policy Transfer en de Nederlandse Politie (Apeldoorn: Programma Politie en Wetenschap/Police Research Programme), and quotations are from the unpublished English version, Punch (2006b) entitled From ‘Anything Goes’ to ‘Zero Tolerance’: Policy Transfer and the Dutch Police. The director of the programme has kindly allowed me to incorporate parts of that English text into this work. The full English report is available from me ([email protected]), and the Dutch version from www.politieenwetenschap.nl.
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Acknowledgements
I am most grateful to a number of Dutch police chiefs, politicians and academics whom I was able to interview for the research. Furthermore, I greatly appreciate the valuable comments on drafts of my original report from Frits Vlek, Kees van der Vijver, René van Swaaningen, Bob Hoogenboom, Geert de Vries and Alexis Aronowitz (in the Netherlands); Tim Newburn, David Downes, Ben Bowling, Robert Reiner, Mercedes Hinton, Tank Waddington, Stan Gilmour and Paul Rock (in Britain); and Peter Manning and Peter Moskos (in the US). I have been fortunate in the quality, and mildness, of my commentators, some of whom (for example, Barry Loveday) also provided me with copies of their published or unpublished work in this area. I am also indebted to Mike Hough for critically reading this work with a view to publication.
Finally, I was greatly helped with my thoughts on policing in general and zero tolerance in particular by a number of ‘reflective practitioners’, including Geoffrey Markham (former Assistant Chief Constable, Essex Police), and Colin Cramphorn and Tom Williamson, who have both sadly passed away. All three held strong but considered views on policing and were sceptical of the zero tolerance approach, feeling that it leaned towards repression.
Colin Cramphorn, former Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police, was a dynamic and perceptive police leader who was widely liked and respected within the service and outside it. The London bombers of 2005 came from his ‘patch’ and, although he was ill, he worked tirelessly with his officers to keep the peace in the aftermath of the bombings. In relation to ‘policy transfer’ he felt that going over to America to look at policing developments there was fairly pointless and preferred an exchange relationship with a European Police Force (Utrecht in the Netherlands).
Tom Williamson, former Deputy Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire, became an energetic and productive academic at Portsmouth University following retirement from the police. He was a thoughtful and supportive colleague, had wide interests, was working on several books and was planning a study of the transformation of policing in the UK with me when he became seriously ill. Both were men of principle and they will be sorely missed. I dedicate this book to their memory.
Amstelveen, July 2007
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Zero tolerance policing
Notes on the author
Maurice Punch has worked at universities in the UK, US and the Netherlands, where he has lived since 1975. He has researched corporate crime, and corruption and reform of the police. He has written on police corruption scandals in several countries, Conduct Unbecoming (1985): other published work includes articles in English, Dutch, French and American journals and several books, including Dirty Business: Exploring Corporate Misconduct (Sage Publications, 1996). His latest book, with Jim Gobert (University of Essex), is Rethinking Corporate Crime (Cambridge University Press, 2003). In 1994, after 18 years in Dutch universities, he became an independent researcher and consultant. Since then, he has continued to research policing and the devious and criminal side of business, to teach senior police officers and to contribute to university programmes for managers and to in-house seminars for executives. He has taken part in numerous conferences, including those for the Council of Europe, the United Nations and the National Institute of Justice. In 1999, he became Visiting Professor at the Mannheim Centre for Criminology, London School of Economics and Political Science where he teaches in graduate courses on policing and corporate crime. He also contributes regularly to the Masters in Criminology programme at King’s College London.
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Summary
In this examination of British and Dutch interest in American-style zero tolerance policing, I place this policy transfer in relation to influential developments in policing and criminal justice in the wider, even global, environment. Police forces everywhere are under constant pressure to change and have become increasingly internationally oriented; looking at police appraisal of zero tolerance in two societies can inform us of shifting paradigms in policing, policy formulation and implementation in practice. To a large degree, police in both Britain and the Netherlands had traditionally adopted a ‘service and consent’ model of policing that was particularly strong in the Netherlands. When New York became associated with a new and tougher approach to law enforcement, dubbed ‘zero tolerance’, it attracted a great deal of attention from abroad, particularly as zero tolerance was held to have led to a substantial reduction in crime. The considerable political and media attention fostered by this can be seen as a periodic return to emphasising the ‘crime control’ paradigm.
The policing innovations in the US, especially the New York model, also interested large numbers of visitors from abroad, including senior British and Dutch police officers. In both Britain and the Netherlands, however, there was considerable ambivalence, scepticism and even hostility among practitioners to implementing zero tolerance. To understand what was subsequently implemented in these two countries, I have had to unravel the diffuse label zero tolerance and divide it into several components. Some elements – such as techniques associated with information-led policing (‘Compstat’), the emphasis on ‘fixing broken windows’ (solving community problems to reverse decline) and a more assertive and directed police presence on the streets – were adopted. As in much policy transfer, the practitioners, in a pragmatic and even opportunistic manner, filtered out the innovations that could realistically be implemented while endeavouring to fit them into existing values and practices. But in both societies, there was little enthusiasm for the underlying ‘tough on crime’ mantra. The policing elites in both countries were under pressure to shift to a crime control model, but this no longer fitted with the more balanced, consultative and rights-based approach that had been adopted in recent years.
In retrospect, then, there was no ‘Americanisation’ of British or Dutch policing: zero tolerance was more of a rhetorical device, driven by politics and the media, than a major policy shift. It was an attractive catch phrase, conveying simplicity and determination, but it was essentially a crude restatement of a traditional crime control model that fitted into a wider shift towards punitiveness in criminal justice in the US. It may well have acted as a catalyst for a more assertive style of policing
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