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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: September 2009

7 - Equity, side effects and accountability


In previous chapters we have introduced the notion of third party policing, described its dimensions, and surveyed both its legal status, tools and effectiveness. These chapters have given a snapshot of how third party policing works in various situations, and of what we know about its effectiveness in preventing or responding to crime. We have shown that the use of third party policing is largely episodic, hidden and outside of most police programmatic responses. Despite this, and based on the limited evaluative evidence available, it appears that third party policing is a highly effective tactic.

But to examine only the effectiveness of third party policing is to consider only half the equation – despite its apparent effectiveness, there has been limited examination of the side-effects, fairness and equity of third party policing. We need to examine the intentional and unintentional, positive and negative, impacts of third party policing on the partners who work with police (regulators, property owners, business owners), as well as on other groups in the community (schools, community groups), on the ultimate targets and their families and communities, and even on the police organizations themselves. How does third party policing affect the community in which it is practised? How equitably does it affect different communities, both internally and in comparison to other communities? Just as importantly, who is held accountable for the outcomes and impacts of third party policing, and how?

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