• policing;
  • community;
  • accountability


During the 1970s a series of events irrevocably changed the way in which policing was carried out in England and Wales. This paper describes how the police became politicized as it enforced government policies that resulted in violent police/public confrontation. It then explores how the Metropolitan Police Service began a process of re-engagement with the highly complex society of London, by community-focused policing models. The theoretical and practical difficulties of community policing are discussed in relation to legislation that required greater community involvement in policing. A theme of accountability is generated throughout the paper showing how political extremism challenged a bi-partite system of police governance, unique to the Metropolitan Police in the context of the UK, by demanding local accountability. This resulted in conflicting legislation that promotes both localized and centralized forms of accountability. The paper concludes with a speculative theory of how policing may develop in London as a department of a local government. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.