Is Public Order necessary?

| July 1, 2009 | 0 Comments

Public Order in the context of the Criminal Justice system and national law and order revolves around the premise that people in a society can be made to follow a single flow, path, or pattern. This single pattern allows for easier enforcement of laws, and in fact enables the creation of a much simpler code of rules, or laws with relation to the nation. Public Order is often the keystone of authors, socio-political theorists, and Hollywood movies. Alan Moore wrote of it in his comic strip V for Vendetta, it was later made into a movie. George Orwell wrote of it in his book 1984, which he published in 1949. Thomas More wrote of it in his book Utopia published in 1516. Ayn Rand wrote of it in almost every one of her books- though she tended to concentrate more on the monetary side of things. It has been a common theme as you can see for hundreds of years. Unfortunately, it has always been seen in a highly negative light by these same authors, filmmakers, and comic writers. It has tended to (in their writings) end in complete governmental control over the people and a stifling of creativity in the masses through the push to conform to the same ideals, ideas, and goals.

England passed the Public Order Act of 1986, which replaced the Public Order Act of 1936. “An Act to abolish the common law offences of riot, rout, unlawful assembly and affray and certain statutory offences relating to public order; to create new offences relating to public order; to control public processions and assemblies; to control the stirring up of racial hatred…” (Public Order Act, 1986) England is attempting to reduce crime, and prevent it by ensuring that everyone is following the same rules, regulations, and laws. England used the Public Order Act to remove the rights of its citizens to defend themselves with deadly force as well as placing Closed Circuit Cameras on virtually every street corner and public thoroughfare throughout the country. “This scrutiny is supposed to deter and detect crime. Even the government’s statistics, though, suggest that the cameras have done little to reduce the worst sort of criminal activity, violence.” (LAUSANNE, 2009) The article goes on to state that this could be changing and that by default the system that has been monitoring the British for this length of time has also gathered much data with regards to how people act. This could be potentially used to enhance how a government, judicial system controls the population. Looking here, we see how Public Order in practice works, we also see the talked about positives, and over the course of twenty-three years we see that it has not really worked. However, we do see potential if the research is able to assist in predicating human behavior. If human behavior can be predicted on a larger scale, using these measurements gathered over twenty –three or more years than there stands a good chance of properly utilizing a policy such as Public Order.

This is impossible on a smaller scale however, humans react, and act based on a wide variety of external stimuli and expecting them to conform or follow a certain pattern at all times is stretching the envelope of what humanity is. While humans have been seen to desire the company of others as well as the comfort seen by following “the crowd” so to speak. This is not the case on a singular level, you may see hundreds of thousands of people following one person (or voting similarly) however, if you ask them their separate reasons, they will always differ.

The cons in this case would be the restriction and eventual complete stifling of human emotion, ingenuity, and creativity for the potential (not sure) for no more crime. It is easy to see that Public Order theories and policies may end up in totalitarian states. In this authors opinion Public Order is only relevant in ant colonies and beehives, humans desire the ability to think apart from the crowd while still belonging to the crowd. Supporters of Public Order theory are not fans of what many of them term Public Disorder, rioting etc. There are other terms for this however, like disequilibrium or the lack of equilibrium. Why must we as free thinking humans be forced to conform regardless of the possible “disorder” or “disequilibrium” that may result, isn’t thinking freely what helps make us humans?


Public Order Act 1986, (1986, November 07). Public Order Act 1986.

LAUSANNE, (2009, February 26). The kindness of crowds.

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Category: Society

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