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Legitimacy and the Main Role of the Police - Literature review Example

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This review seeks to analyze legitimacy in the contest of a specific police function. The questions that this review seeks to answer are two-fold, such as: What is legitimacy? How does the police role of maintaining law and order define the concepts of legitimacy in England and Wales?…
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Legitimacy and the Main Role of the Police
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Download file to see previous pages Therefore, for effective governing, an institution has to acquire political legitimacy as this is necessary to prevent the collapse of the government due to various legal setbacks that govern the state. However, there are some political systems that survive despite illegitimately acquiring power. This institution usually seeks the support of individuals who hold influential positions in the society and thereby considering such systems as legitimate despite opposition from the wider mass. Locke further argues that legitimacy comes from the popular consent of the people and without it, any institution formed and operating is illegitimate. Dolf Sternberger defines legitimacy as a foundation of the existence of governmental power with the knowledge of officials of the government that they have a right to govern for the benefits of the people (Alderson, 1979). An author by the name of Seymour Martins disagrees with the definitions of Locke and Stanberger on legitimacy. He argues that legitimacy involves a belief by the ruling class that the practiced system of governance is the best and he does not involve the masses as in his definition (Blumberg, 1983). Legitimacy encompasses morality and scholars of moral philosophy define it as the normative position given to the government and other institutions operating in the country by the masses on the acceptance that they use their authority in accordance to the law. Scholars of law distinguish legitimacy from legality. They argue that a government can be legitimate in its composition but its actions can be illegal, for example implementing a budget without parliament’s approval. The police is an organ of the government and its main function is to maintain law and order. In conducting their operations there are always aspects of legitimacy in question. Are they acting within the law or are they violating the same law they are supposed to implement? The main role of the police force is to maintain law and order and in order to function appropriately; the police need public help and support and it’s of great use to them when such support is voluntary and sincere. Such voluntary support from the public comes from the notion of legitimacy. The society has to acknowledge the roles of the police as outlined by the laws governing the state and if police action contravenes these laws, they will lose legitimacy and therefore getting cooperation from the people becomes difficult. One of the main reasons as to why people agree to cooperate with the police is because they enjoy legal recognition and therefore people view them as a legitimate authority to be obeyed. The public is also concerned with the manner in which the police execute their functions and from their conclusions and analysis, they give judgment on the legitimacy of the police operations. Such evaluations are central in public-police relations and influence their assessment of the police in conducting their functions of maintaining law and order. It is therefore important for the police force to follow all legal channels in executing their duties as this will enhance its level of acceptance among the public and therefore acquiring legitimacy. Once they are acceptable to the public, they will effectively conduct their functions. The state has the right of using violence to implement its laws, and this right is given to the police.   ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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