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Police use of deadly force: Analysing police 'encounters' in Mumbai.

Belur, Jyoti (2007) Police use of deadly force: Analysing police 'encounters' in Mumbai. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This study analyses the dynamics of the police decision to invoke deadly force in a particular situation called encounters, using the Mumbai police as a case study. Police encounters in India are officially portrayed as spontaneous, unplanned 'shoot-outs' between the police and alleged criminals, in which the criminal almost invariably is killed but there are hardly any injuries on the part of the police. However the 'cover story' is always the same raising the suspicion that it is a cover up for facts that might not be legally defensible or permissible. The core of this study is to understand why in a free and democratic society like India, such abuse of police use of deadly force is not only tolerated, but also in many ways (both overtly and tacitly) encouraged. The study adopts a qualitative approach to understand police officers' perspectives of the issues surrounding the use of deadly force and compares it with the perspectives of a few influential opinion makers via in-depth semi-structured interviews. A broader examination of media, social, organisational and governmental responses towards police use of deadly force helps contextualize police justifications within the Denial Theory framework and the study draws upon wider policing literature in the UK, USA, South Africa and certain Latin American countries to explain why this form of police violence occurs. The abuse of deadly force has to be understood as not only a social problem, but also a sociological one. It gives rise to fiindamental questions such as - what makes ordinary, 'decent' human beings do horrible things. What motivational techniques and justifications are used to override social norms governing moral conduct. This problem has received little attention in the Indian context, to that extent the research will fill a gap in the existing criminological literature and allow for a more comprehensive understanding of these issues. Also, by drawing lessons from the experience of other countries who have tackled similar problems, it will provide broad guidelines and recommendations for reforms in policing policy and practice.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sociology, Criminology and Penology
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses

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