By Jacques de Maillard, in Policing and Society, octobre 2016, pp. 1-13.
Compared to the burgeoning literature on the determinants of penal policies in various Western countries, and compared to criminology in general, the comparative study of policing is an underdeveloped area of research. We acknowledge the practical and theoretical difficulties of such an approach, but we defend its main benefits. Studying policing comparatively allows for a better knowledge of national systems, an understanding of basic concepts such as centralisation, and a stronger recognition of the diverging and converging trends in policing policies at a global level. Traditional comparisons of national models considered policing systems in broad categories (Anglo-Saxon versus continental European, for example). Here, we suggest rather that models need to be broken down into their elementary components and main organisational features (degree of centralisation, mechanisms of oversight and others).