Contractualism and Policing in the Public Interest
Once, police largely depended on their status as the embodiment of the State’s monopoly on coercive force to obtain the assistance they needed to do their job. Today they are increasingly reliant on formalised arrangements of reciprocity with other public and private agents. Police are both purchasers and vendors of goods and services, including security services. This paper explores the issues surrounding the growing importance of contractualism in policing and its risks. After an examination of events policing by one large Australian police organisation, the paper concludes that, although the risks are substantial, newer economic forms of policing like ‘user-pays’ are not necessarily antithetical to the public interest. They may, in fact, promote it.