White Rose University Consortium logo
University of Leeds logo University of Sheffield logo York University logo

The re-legitimation of private security in Britain, 1945-2001.

White, Adam James (2009) The re-legitimation of private security in Britain, 1945-2001. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

[img] Text (500118.pdf)

Download (9Mb)


In the years following World War II, the private security industry occupied only a very marginal position within the British security sector. It was disdained by the police, lambasted by the media and largely dismissed by the British population, who turned almost exclusively to the state when they encountered any trace of crime and disorder. In short, private security companies functioned with a bare minimum of legitimacy at this time. Moving forward to the opening decade of the twenty-first century, these companies are now a major force. The industry is more than double the size of the police, it is endorsed and licensed by the state and operates in partnership with a number of state institutions, often in the provision of highly visible frontline law and order functions. And, perhaps most importantly, it is increasingly being accepted by the British population as a central member of the ‘extended policing family’. In other words, private security companies are now operating with a much greater degree of legitimacy. Against this backdrop, the aim of this thesis is to explore the following question: how have private security companies once again become legitimate providers of security functions within postwar Britain? The answer given here is that, faced with the British population’s expectation that security ought to be monopolised' by the state, these companies have attempted to portray themselves not as purebred market actors functioning in accordance with the logic of profit margins and private goods, but rather as state-deputised actors operating in line with the public good. They have, in other words, attempted to capture legitimacy from the state. Their main strategy for doing this has been to bring about a system of statutory regulation, for this would create an official partnership between the industry and the state, thereby conferring legitimacy upon their operations. This was a controversial strategy, however. And it was only after half a century of intense industry-state negotiations that such a regulatory framework was finally implemented. This thesis will therefore analyse these negotiations from 1945 until the passing of the Private Security Industry Act in 2001. For these negotiations, more than any other factor, serve to explain the re-legitimation of private security in postwar Britain.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Politics (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.500118
Depositing User: EThOS Import Sheffield
Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2019 10:24
Last Modified: 30 Sep 2019 10:24
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/24981

You do not need to contact us to get a copy of this thesis. Please use the 'Download' link(s) above to get a copy.
You can contact us about this thesis. If you need to make a general enquiry, please see the Contact us page.

Actions (repository staff only: login required)