Comparative Studies in Policing

University of California students in London will be challenged to think critically about the role of police in the UK and US, an especially relevant topic in light of discussions on immigration and security in Europe, as well as race and police brutality in the US.

Professor Michael Owens’ Policing London: Policy, Law and the Police in the Global City looks at all aspects of policing the largest metropolitan city in the European Union, from the evolutions and origins of the London Metropolitan Police, to increasingly relevant topics such as corruption, race relations, and policing major demonstrations and riots.

Owens, a former senior urban planning official for the city of London, together with a team of visiting lecturers who are each leading professionals in their fields, helps students come to a deep understanding of the issues raised in class. Students analyze the changing policing responses to specific public order challenges, and to wider shifts in the social context for policing.

In a recent guest lecture with Annalise Elliott from the Parole Board of England and Wales, students considered the concept of rehabilitation for offenders, and the centrality of that principle to the UK criminal justice system. Elliot explained the difference between the criminal and civil courts, and the types of cases each would receive. She also explained the different types of sentences available to each court. Students launched into a debate on the similarities and differences between the criminal justice systems, sentencing, and rehabilitation in the UK and US.

Elliot concluded her lecture by reporting on her experiences in making decisions about releasing offenders on parole, and the broader institutional context for the rehabilitation of offenders.

Other guest lecturers for this course include Pete Dobson, a recently retired Borough Commander, and Jonathan Toy, Head of Community Safety in another of London’s Boroughs. Toy works intensively with gang members and brings first-hand accounts of his work with those involved in street crime.

Owens will also look at media representations of the London police force in a lecture entitled “Cops on Film,” to complete students’ 360-degree introduction to the subject of Policing London.