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Book Review: Private Policing, Second Edition

By Mark Button. Routledge;; 268 pages; $44.95.

0520-National-Security-Book-Review-Private-Policing.jpgThe second edition of Private Policing examines the many forms of policing and how they assist the public good, often in very specialized ways. Pointing out that private security practitioners outnumber the public police, the book enumerates the various types of policing, their heritage, and their value.

Literature on private policing is rarely this detailed. Academics will appreciate the extensive notes, figures, tables, and references. Others will find inspiration in learning about private policing’s importance to society. The concepts are easy to grasp, but readers may be distracted by the thoroughness of the treatment. Nevertheless, each chapter’s conclusion outlines important takeaways that can be revisited as required.

Author Mark Button proposes a second quiet revolution in the security sector that includes elements related to the most pressing issues of our time: fraud and cybercrime. A key idea uncovered is the need for policing beyond the local level due to the global nature of crime, criminals, organizations, and public interests.

Button argues that local public police are not well equipped to address these issues; consequently, victims and society draw upon other sources to prevent and ferret out violations to reinforce social order. Private Policing highlights the need for process integrity—new mechanisms should be regulated to ensure they are used for public good rather than for oppressive or deviant social control.

The book explores various policing models, including their purpose, history, and regulations. Button uses worldwide examples frequently built upon his familiarity with the British system.

An important lesson learned from applying specialized interests to societal rights is that unless we know the facts, a determination of outcome may miss the mark of social justice, potentially undermining the efforts of extra-government activities. All services should follow relevant professional standards, and ASIS International gets a nod for creating standards and providing training.

Private policing brings society closer to discovering facts and thus supports the public good. When the public police are unable to address risks due to technical, geographical, or legal restrictions, private policing fills the void and adds to the safety of society, organizations, and citizens.

Private Policing provides a guide to ensure accountability in the new world.

Reviewer: Robert E. Lee, Jr., is a former member and chair of the ASIS Law Enforcement Liaison Council. He is a retired FBI agent who began his career in local law enforcement.