In 1964 Ben Whitaker, who later defeated a former Home Secretary to become Hampstead’s first ever Labour MP and a Junior Minister, wrote The Police to try and reconcile (in his own words) ‘the very different impression police officers make when, as a barrister, one is defending from when one is prosecuting in court’. This book was widely praised as ‘The best and most impartial book that has yet been written on the police’ (Lord Gardiner); ‘The most truthful picture to date’ (Sunday Times); ‘Valuable’ (Observer); ‘Terse and telling’ (Sunday Telegraph); ‘Excellent, generous and sensible’ (Punch).

    After that time, the crime situation seriously deteriorated, as uncertainties about the exact nature of the police’s role in a democracy multiplied. Ben Whitaker spent five years interviewing policemen and others, and in this title, originally published in 1979, almost entirely rewrote his assessment and proposals for ameliorating the situation. Perceptively, critically yet impartially, he analyses the effectiveness, sociology, misconduct, and future of the police, and suggests radical reforms in their powers and relationship with the public.

    The Police in Society was timely and essential reading for anybody concerned with the human rights of individuals in a democratic society at the time and today can be read and enjoyed in its historical context.

    1. Eye of the Storm: The Public’s Police  2. The Role of the Police: Force or Service?  3. The Price of Effectiveness  4. Freedom, and Freedom From Crime  5. State and Police: National or Provincial?  6. The Police Officer’s Lot  7. Quis Custodiet: Policing the Police  8. The Cost of Freedom: The Police’s Future.  Appendices:  A. The Judge’s Rules  B. The New System for Complaints  C. Terms of the Trade: Some Police and Criminal Slang.  Bibliography.  Index.


    Ben Whitaker

    Reviews of the original edition:

    ‘Mr Whitaker writes knowledgeably and passionately’ The Times

    ‘Scepticism soon gave way to admiration’ Police Review

    ‘A one-man royal commission’ New Society

    ‘It will be read by policemen and their enemies with almost equal approval, which is no mean achievement’ The London Review of Books