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Rioters asking prevention questions of policing

There is a forthcoming debate on policing following the recent rioting. Two models of policing are evident: a preventative model and a retributive model.

By a preventative model, I mean a police force which is dedicated towards the pre-emption and prevention of crime.

By a retributive model of policing, I mean that it is the task of the police to punish crimes already committed.

These are now the reference points within the debate as to policing. This is because the retributive model was seen as a failure in the response to the violence, and the preventative model viewed as the remedy. Yet, if public safety comes down to a division of labour between the police and the individual, the debate around policing touches upon the relationship between the individual and the state.

The nation-state gets legitimacy from its core function: protecting its subjects' human rights. If we cannot fund a preventative model of policing, we must acknowledge a preventative model of individual self-defence.

As Cicero argued: "When weapons reduce [the laws] to silence, the laws no longer expect one to wait their pronouncements. For people to decide to wait for these will have to wait for justice, too - and meanwhile they must suffer injustice first."

ADAM REILLY

Belfast

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