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Canadian Educators' Press


Contemporary Issues in Canadian Policing

Author: Edited by Stephen E. Nancoo

ISBN: 1-896191-09-6

Publishers: Canadian Educators’ Press

Price $55.99 US Plus postage RRP

Publication Date: 2004

This new book, Contemporary Issues in Canadian Policing focuses on the important challenges of change and controversy facing the police and the public.

Contemporary Issues in Canadian Policing is divided into six sections which consider fundamental themes and topics as: community policing, the police subculture, ethics, technology, policing the diverse society, policing trends and issues in the 21st century, women in policing, aboriginal policing, police discretion, the use of force, recruitment, selection and promotion of police officers, policing labour, and transnational policing.

Among the recent issues impacting both the police and society that are discussed in this volume are: globalization, terrorism, national security, racial profiling and public policing versus private security.

This interesting collection of nineteen chapters, written by academics and practitioners, integrates research and practical experience to give a better understanding of the influence and impact of policing today.

Given the current climate of discussion and debate on policing, Contemporary Issues in Canadian Policing reflects a deep commitment to its significant users: college and university students, university lecturers and police educators, police leaders and policy makers, and community workers.

They would all refer to Contemporary Issues in Canadian Policing often for its valuable discussion and insightful understanding of the police and policing today.

CONTEMPORARY ISSUES IN CANADIAN POLICING

Chapters Title

1. Contemporary Issues in Canadian Policing

2. Policing as force and policing as risk minimization

3. An integrated Community Policing Model

4. Lessons learned from a regional police force

5. Organizational change and community policing

6. Police and security in aboriginal communities

7. Police subculture

8. Police ethics

9. Policing and information technology

10. Managing diversity

11. Recruitment, selection and promotion of police officers

12. Women in policing

13. Policing labour

14. Police interrogation

15. When police kill: the aftermath

16. The transnationalization of policing

17. Police discretion with young offenders

18. Trends and Prospects in the 21st Century

19. Challenges: globalization, terrorism, national security, performance measurement, public-private security


REVIEW

'Contemporary Issues in Canadian Policing' is a collection of scholarly articles used to critically assess and debate the previous and current climate of policing in parallel to a changing society. The book is aimed predominantly at the following groups: ‘students and academics of policing…police practitioners and administrators...(and) elected and appointed decision-makers who play an important role in police governance’ (Nancoo, 2004:ix).  The discussion is divided into six parts.  The first provides an introductory commentary to the preceding dialogue, whilst parts two and three centre on community policing issues and the concern of subculture, ethics and technology.  Parts four and five consider the role of policing within the context of human resources and organisational matters.  The concluding section of the discussion rests with the future role of policing in the twenty-first century.

The first part of the discussion introduces the reader to the conceptual concerns of public policing.  The changing characteristics of policing are addressed within the context of its traditional and community positions, whilst providing a dichotomous examination of its foundations in relation to non-negotiable force versus risk minimisation.  The next section of the book concentrates on community policing issues.  The dialogue is based on an assessment of community policing models in selected police departments.  The discussion begins with drawing attention to the theoretical subject matter of community policing through an examination of Clark and Felson’ (1979) Rational Action Theory and issues concerning Crime Prevention through Environmental/Physical Design (CPTED and CPTPD) (chapter three).  The community-policing model is debated in terms of its implementation and inherent challenges faced not only by police departments, but also in respect of the community itself (chapter 4).  The organisational function of the police service is reviewed from a sociological ‘social system’ perspective and the Weberian philosophy of bureaucracy to consider the relationship between the communities in parallel to the influence of an informal/formal police culture (chapter five).  The role of community policing is also evaluated in relation to police discretion and culture that has led to paradigmatic shift in policing from a coercive to security function (chapter six).

The third part of ‘Contemporary Issues in Canadian Policing’ rests on the thematic subjects of subculture, ethnics and technology.  The analysis of police subcultures draws attention to the inadequacies of Canadian literature in this area in comparison to US and UK research.  The argument provides a non-biased account of the apparent deviant influences a subculture may infer upon individuals.  It leads onto an introduction and development of a proposition for a new social-psychological mode of understanding the notion of ethics within the remit of policing.  Its impact is considered at all levels of the bureaucratic police organisation from Human Resources through to the street-level police officer.  The shifting role of policing is also evaluated in respect to the effects of globalisation.  The central concern lies with the cost, accountability and the development of new crimes within the realm of Information Technology (IT).

The fourth section looks at human resource issues.  It presents extensive literature of the subject matter of diversity within Canadian police forces.  It is debated in terms of management strategies/policies to implement a more diverse workforce, representative of society in general.  The issue of diversity is debated on behalf of visible minorities and Aboriginal groups and women in the police service.

The penultimate part of the book shifts to a discussion of operational issues in the police service.  The subject of policing labour disputes draws attention to British research (due to the lack of Canadian literature) to examine the theoretical context of police strategies and tactics in labour disputes.  It is used to set the foundations of the debate in relation to the 1987 Canadian policing policy in abovementioned disputes.  The research concerned with miscarriages of justice assess the use of interrogative techniques through British literature – although consideration is also drawn to the US.  It is viewed in parallel to police working rules, the due process model and criminal justice reforms.  The matter of the consequences of lethal force is considered in the context of improved police training in stress management techniques.  The operational element of policing is concluded through an evaluation of the multidimensional nature of police discretionary practices in dealing with young offenders.

The concluding section of the book deals with the future of policing in the twenty-first century.  The main focus is on the shifting nature of crime and the society that must take into account a new paradigm of policing.  It is in terms of an ageing population, the effects of globalisation and visible minorities.  This leads to an analytical insight into the challenges facing the police in terms of the threats emerging from a so-called ‘borderless world’ such as national security and terrorism.

In retrospect, ‘Contemporary Issues in Canadian Policing’ is a concise exploration of the central concerns of policing.  It draws upon a wide body of literature and is not solely confined to the utilisation of Canadian research.  The book is well structured in which each chapter is an extension of the previous one.  The sole concern rests with part 5 (operational issues) of the book.  The inclusion of chapter 16 appears out of place in comparison to the rest of the chapters incorporated into this section.  Nonetheless, the book is highly applicable to the target audiences identified earlier and is a worthwhile read in terms of identifying issues in policing and examining the challenges that lie ahead in the not-so-distant future.

Faiza Qureshi


Title: Law, Order and the Canadian Criminal Justice System

Edition: 1st edition

Author: Ramcharan S and Ramcharan CS

ISBN: 1-896191-11-8

Publishers: Canadian Educators’ Press

Price: $38.45 Canadian

Publication date: 2005

REVIEW

The structure of the book is divided into ten chapters to explore the different facets of the crime, criminal and civil law and the Canadian criminal justice system.  The over-arching intention of the text is to ‘fill a vacuum in the literature and offer(s) many unique and distinctive features’ (Ramcharan and Ramcharan, 2005:8).  Each section concludes with a summary, key terms and discussion outcomes.  The format provides the reader with the necessary learning techniques to gauge their understanding of the topics covered.  It offers a glossary of the terminology used, but key expressions are omitted as per ‘burden of proof’ and ‘presumption of innocence’ inter alia.  The book offers a range of visual representations of key discussion for the reader to effortlessly grasp information.  The tables and charts are placed towards the end of the book.  It only serves to distract the reader from the main body of the text, to refer endlessly to the back of the book.  The section on ‘Civil Law and Regulatory Offences’ further undermines the structure of the text.  It appears out of sync with the general topics, as it is placed in between the discussion on ‘The Charter of Rights and Freedoms’ and ‘Youth Offences’.  Strategically, it would have been better placed after Chapter 1.     

 The discussion on criminal and civil law and the Canadian criminal justice system is destabilised through a lack-lustre account of the court system.  Little consideration is provided to the complexities of the hierarchy of the court system.  The main reference to the court structure of the Canadian criminal justice system emerges through the classification of offences by where a case will be tried. 

The discussion is further undermined by the infrequent use of case law.  In total, twenty-five cases were presented.  Although the authors do provide an in-depth analysis of each case and its implications for the criminal justice system and/or criminal and civil law, it is felt that a handful of cases cannot adequately provide the reader with a sufficient grasp of the issues that need to be considered.  For example, the varying levels of ‘intent’ in criminal law is discussed but is not amply juxtaposed with case law.  The use of case law is integral to any discourse on criminal justice as can provide the reader, inter alia, with an insight into the development of law and order and can highlight the contradictory nature of judges in attempting to interpret the criminal code.   

The focus on the general defences in criminal law provides a comprehensive discussion of defences available to a suspect.  Yet it is remains unclear as to which defences apply to which offence.  The defence of provocation applies to homicide, yet it is discussed with self-defence, which applies to all offences (as per insanity and mistake).  Furthermore, parallels are not drawn between the role of necessity in other defences such as self-defence and duress.  The main crux of the discourse centres on the problematic nature of mental disorders.  Even though it provides a balanced argument on the diverging perceptions of insanity, based on accounts by the medical and legal professions, it is highly limited.  The debate on the insanity defence does not adequately discuss the components of the mens rea.  It simply refers in passing to the issue of ‘disease of the mind’.  It does not take into account the issue that the disease need not be permanent and can refer to any part of the body if it has an effect on the mind – diabetes/arteriosclerosis.    

Law, Order and the Canadian Criminal Justice System attempts to fill a void in the existing literature by offering the reader ‘many unique and distinctive features’ (Ramcharan and Ramcharan, 2005:8).  It does provide a comprehensive account of law and order by assessing the contribution of crime, criminal and civil law and the Canadian criminal justice system.  Thereby encompassing a wide variety of topics into a highly accessible text.  However, the book is restricted in terms of failing to present a discussion on the hierarchy of the court system of the Canadian criminal justice system.  It would have been beneficial to the reader to see the ruling authority of the higher and lower courts.  The second point to consider is the issue concerning a lack of case law.  Only a handful of cases are used.  It would have been beneficial to the discussion to incorporate more cases, as it would have provided the reader with clear examples of the issues to be assessed within criminal law.  The final concern rests with the issue of general defences and its lack of clarity in the discourse.  Law, Order and the Canadian criminal justice system is a good introductory text that has the capacity to provide the reader with a wide-ranging account on all facets of crime, criminal and civil law and the criminal justice system.  It is exemplified further by providing the reader with the opportunity to grasp pivotal ideas/terminology through the summary, case law review, key terms and discussion questions preceding each section.

Faiza Qureshi


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