Questioning Anglocentrism in plural policing studies: Private security regulation in Belgium and the United Kingdom

Pieter Leloup, Adam White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)


Recent Continental European scholarship has identified a problematic Anglocentric bias running through the field of comparative plural policing studies. It has sought to counter this bias by emphasizing a series of divergent plural policing trajectories between the more market-friendly countries in the Anglosphere and the more state-centric countries in Continental Europe. While acknowledging the significance of this corrective, we argue that it tends to overemphasize the levels of divergence between these two regions. We substantiate this claim by examining the rise of the private security industry and its regulation by the state in the UK (representing the Anglosphere) and Belgium (representing Continental Europe). Interpreting historical and contemporary data through Sabatier and Weible’s advocacy coalition framework, which focuses on the cut and thrust of democratic politics, we observe how in both countries this important dimension of the plural policing landscape is characterized not by counterposed market-friendly and state-centric trajectories, but rather by a complex mix of state–market interactions. In other words, the dynamics of private security regulation are more state-centric in the UK and more market-friendly in Belgium than recent Continental European scholarship suggests. Moreover, we illustrate how, under conditions of post-financial crisis austerity, the overarching pattern is, if anything, one of convergence towards a common set of political dynamics. This is an important finding that not only makes an original contribution towards private security regulation scholarship but also encourages us to question the nature of Anglocentric bias within comparative plural policing studies.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalEuropean Journal of Criminology
Early online dateMay 2021
Publication statusPublished - 12 May 2021


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