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(From Guardian Unlimited)
For decades, policy makers and criminologists have agonised over whether the police were fundamentally a force or a service. On one hand, research on what the police did, and on what the public called on the police to do, showed that much if not most of their work did not involve the use of their law enforcement powers. On the other, media representations and the culture of the police rank and file saw "real" police work as crime fighting.
Analytically, this conundrum was resolved by the theory formulated by the American sociologist Egon Bittner. The police officer was "Florence Nightingale in pursuit of Willie Sutton" (a legendary bank robber). What united the bewildering miscellany …