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  • Print publication year: 2008
  • Online publication date: June 2012

4 - Sale – Buying


Commanding co-production of security from third parties is only one way in which police obtain resources to effectively police their jurisdictions. We turn now to a second form, sale: the exchange of goods and services between police and others. In this chapter we examine instances of police buying in the goods and services they need, and the risks and benefits this entails. We look in Part 1 at police involvement in procurement and outsourcing, and then in Part 2 we turn to the acquisition of information by police through the offering of rewards and other inducements.



Shopping does not immediately spring to mind as one of the important activities of the police. At first glance it seems an unconventional or even trivial pursuit. But the purchasing of goods and services is in fact taking up increasing amounts of the time and energy of today's police. The increasing complexity of public policing, and the climate of fiscal austerity (with attending pressures for greater efficiency and effectiveness) that characterises most Western nations, have seen police going ‘outside’ for more goods and services. This increasing reliance on purchasing has also been driven by new techniques of policing in response to fresh challenges such as terrorism. Contemporary policing is accompanied by a need for goods and services undreamt of thirty years ago.