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Paramilitarism British Police

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1648 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Part A: Summary

Author Alice Hills article, ‘Militant Tendencies: Paramilitarism in the British Police,’ is based on a debate which initiated in 1987 during a conflict between 300 people and the police. Paramilitarism was and is a controversial issue which is linked mainly to public order policing. Due to the destructive and strict policing in the 1980’s lead to a public dispute regarding images, which created huge media coverage. Jefferson states that there is no approved definition for the term paramilitarism, but an extent of uncertainty regarding certain features.

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The article goes on to state that paramilitarism should not completely be sourced on command and control. The author believes paramilitarism should also be indentified in terms of function if paramilitarism was to have any meaning beyond a restrained geographical and historical region. The author suggests that paramilitarism should be related in terms of relationship; between police to the military and to the state, also the legal system and style of political process.

This article suggests that the dispute is in fact the misinterpretation of the nature of paramilitarism, which has rooted to differences in views regarding the presence of paramilitarism in the British police. Waddington and Jefferson views on the definition of ‘paramilitary’ may differ but they both believe that paramilitarism exists in the British police. The role of the police in democratic sates such as the United Kingdom is seen to be confusing, due to no clear role and function of the police. It is thought confusion possibly is expected and, certainly adequate due to suggestive freedom of question.

Paramilitary is seen as a positive and precise description of a role assumed by organisations working an important internal security function, a policing style can also be described, if this is the case it should be made apparent that the phrase is being used as a metaphor. Both Waddington and Jefferson disagreed with what they believed paramilitarism should be defined as, but neither of them used parliamentary as a metaphor.

Part B: Definitions

Machiavellian:The Oxford English Dictionary defines Machiavellian as Attempting to achieve what one wants by cunning, scheming and unscrupulous methods. By situating the definition from the oxford dictionary and the context of the word used by the author, the author talks about Machiavellian in the context that critics have said that in the 1980’s the military were using the police or the government was using the police in position of the military. The author believed this analysis was Machiavellian; it was seen as scheming because the British history proposes that rules and preparations, it is possible to conclude to confusion and ambiguity, rather than there decisions being scheming or cunning.

Contextualize: The definition stated in the Cambridge dictionary defines Contextualize as, to consider something in its context. The phrase Contextualize is used when neither Farrington nor Waddington address the function of the military from which they illustrate their personal definition of ‘parliamentary’. Farrington then goes on to say the reason for this debate was to put into context the appearance of parliamentary policing within the downfall of agreement and the incline in Thatcherism (political thought).

Fallacious: is defined by The Sage Dictionary of Criminology as A fallacy is a component of an argument which, being demonstrably flawed in its logic or form renders the argument invalid in whole. Fallacious is bought into context when the author talks about the drug raid on the Broadwater Farm estate in 1989, the raid is seen as the ‘fallacious’ contention, as the drugs raid was a paramilitary operation in almost every respect. The author believes that the raid was not paramilitary due to neither it being designed nor executed in support of armed forces. The author believes that the drug raid was a judgement made about the drugs on Broadwater Farm estate. The author saw it as fallacy which formed the argument invalid as a whole.

Part C: Comparison

The Comparison article chosen is titled ‘Pondering Paramilitarism’: A Question of Standpoints? It was authored by Tony Jefferson; and was published in the British Journal of Criminology in 1993. This article was selected primarily because it constitutes to a second round of debate between the author and P.A.J Waddington on the subject of ‘paramilitarism’ in the British police. The author builds upon the disagreement concerning himself and Professor Waddington regarding this subject, the build up relates to the differences in standpoint instead of failure to connect with each others arguments.

The authors are concerned about the term ‘paramilitary’ and what it means. Therefore this article is a debate between the two authors on what paramilitary is. Both authors put forward there views of what they think paramilitary should be defined as. Jefferson’s state’s there is no agreed definition of paramilitarism, but rather a degree of confusion about the significance of various aspects. (1990:2)

Although both writers are investigating ‘Paramilitary’ Waddington and Jefferson come to different definitions of the term ‘Paramilitary’. Waddington believes ‘paramilitary’, is precisely the co-ordination and integration of all offenders deployed as squads under centralised command and control’. (Waddington 1993: 374). Whereas Jefferson defines paramilitary as ‘namely, the application of (quasi) -military training, philosophy and organisation to question policing’ (Jefferson 1990: 16). Waddington states that his definition is co-ordination through command and control; Jefferson goes on to say he admits that is often missing in paramilitary policing. Neither authors use paramilitary as a metaphor. Both authors treat it as a precise description of certain types of police organisations and operations.

The authors are similar in there concerns but vary in many ways about the term ‘paramilitary’. The similarities that are formed in both the articles is the debate between both authors, were agreement is unlikely. There is a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of paramilitarism, and the essential difference in standpoint, rather than the failure to engage with each others arguments. There debate is based on a shared assumption which underlines the entire debate that paramilitary exist in the British police force. Looking at the military and paramilitary neither Jefferson nor Waddington indentify the function of the military from which they both draw their respective definitions of paramilitary.

However there are differences in both articles between the authors, the main disagreement is about paramilitary policing. Both authors have different viewpoints. The definition is seen as to narrow and too subjective. Jefferson’s says there disagreement stems from them missing each others viewpoints; they differ in definition, interpretation and political bias. The articles by Waddington and Jefferson direct to certain basic weaknesses in existing notion about the police role in public order, which are indicative of the uncertainty, much of the present debate on policing in the UK. The authors are seen to have inquisitively narrow anglocentric views. Waddington is more restrained in his interpretation of paramilitary and admits that he considers the UK police forces as only moving towards paramilitary.

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Both the author’s thoughts and views differ, e.g. public order event led Jefferson to believe that 'that paramilitary policing has an inherent tendency to aggravate or amplify problems of violence and disorder, whereas Waddington views were different which lead him to the opposite conclusion 'when the police were not deployed in paramilitary strength serious disorder occurred; when significant numbers of police, including specialists in riot control, were deployed there was progressively less violence' (1993: 362). The differences in standpoints lead to different opinions.

Opinions on issues addressed in the article are similar but vary at times, looking at the above similarities and differences shows how the authors differ in there thoughts about paramilitarism.

The approach taken in the article is objective, the article is impartial and unbiased it is based on a debate which consists of views and thoughts of the authors.

The articles are seen as informative, a certain topic is discussed by the authors with differences in standpoints and views. The factual information presented in the articles is the same when talking about paramilitarism, but there is a difference in the opinions between the authors which is conflicting.

To conclude on both the articles the views of Jefferson are of the present tense on paramilitary policing whereas Waddington’s standpoint is of the future on paramilitary policing.

Word Count: 620


(eds.) (2004) Cambridge University: Press

Hills, A. (1993), ‘Militant Tendencies: Paramilitarism in the British Police: British Journal of Criminology, 450-58.

Jefferson, T. (1993), ‘Pondering Paramilitarism: A Question of Standpoint?’. British Journal of Criminology, 33/3: 374-81.

McLaughlin, E., and Muncie, J. (eds.) (2001) The Sage Dictionary of Criminology. London: Sage

Simpson, J.A., and Weiner, E.S.C. (eds.) (1989) The Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford: Clarendon Press


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