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The impact of the financialisation of policing in the United Kingdom

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posted on 2024-01-17, 01:36 authored by Vincent HurleyVincent Hurley


This research project focuses on the impact of increased financialisation and austerity on police and policing in the UK. Specifically, it examines how UK police dealt with corporate hemorrhaging of 21,000 police and funding cuts of £2bn manifested through extensive and non-discriminatory divestment of resources and employees from 2010 to 2020. This resulted in an organisational trajectory where police employees felt under siege and objectified. The cascading effect was despair and loss. Inconsolability permeated the entire policing organisation to the point that police abdicated their policing responsibilities to their organisations and the community as they were consumed by melancholia. 

Following a decade of fiscal conservatism and increased administrative metrics imposed by successive UK governments, the police are a very much transformed entity. Drawing on both policy documents and  18 in-depth interviews, this research project charts the experiences, emotions and ontological challenges faced by individual police officers who, in their day-to-day role, struggle to overcome the limitations of the new policing landscape. Through the theoretical lens of Foucault and Freud, the research addresses key issues of mourning, loss and managing the increased demand of policing within a much reduced organisational structure. 

There were three key findings. First, police were forced to focus on how to manage and meet their predetermined fiscal and organisational targets over the goal of policing the community. It was the case of organisational policing first, community policing second. Second, police saw themselves as being increasingly irrelevant in their function to the point of feeling like they were a footnote in society. Third, the impact of years of government scrutiny and the relentlessness of being asked to be more effective and efficient wore the police down to the point where they felt they were participating in posthumous policing of society. In conclusion, this project presents a vision of police and policing existing in an inconsolable organisation. 


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction -- Chapter 2. The myth and the reality of British police and policing -- Chapter 3. The financialisation of policing -- Chapter 4. A Foucauldian perspective of police and policing -- Chapter 5. Research methods -- Chapter 6. Policing as an inconsolable organisation -- Chapter 7. “I’m becoming a footnote in society” -- Chapter 8. Organisational policing first, community policing second -- Chapter 9. Conclusion -- Appendix A. Researcher background for participants -- Appendix B. Ethics approval -- Appendix C. Interview guide -- References

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


Doctor of Philosophy

Department, Centre or School

Department of Security Studies and Criminology

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Alex Simpson


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United Kingdom


256 pages

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