In recent years the police have become one of the most watched and most visible organisations, and across the media there has been constant interest in the police. In such a situation the police themselves have been intensely concerned with promoting, projecting and protecting the police image.
This book is concerned to document and to explain this image work, the activities in which the police engage that construct and project images of policing. Drawing upon first-hand research with the police themselves (including such examples as the way the South Yorkshire Police handled the Miners Strike and the Hillsborough stadium disaster), the book includes a detailed look at police press and public relations officers at work, and at operational policing and police work. Its broader argument is that image work has the capacity to both legitimate policing and to mask problems of legitimation.
At a time of intense debate about the future role and nature of the police this book makes a key contribution, and raises important questions about the implications of police image work for both democratically accountable policing and the wider transformations in society being brought about by the media and its management.
Preface 1. The history of police image work 1829-1987 2. The professionalisation of police image work since 1987 3. The national picture: systems of police image work 4. Police image work at the local level: a force and its mission 5. Press and public relations officers at work 6. Image work and operational policing 7. Conclusions: image work, police work and legitimacy