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Public and Private Policing


Admission requirements

Students who want to take this course need to be admitted to the Criminology & Criminal Justice master’s programme.


The criminal justice landscape is changing rapidly, both on a national and supranational level, partly as a result of globalization, transnational crime problems, and the preoccupation with risk. New actors are entering the stage of crime control, or what may be more accurately called ‘risk management’. For example, private companies such as G4S and Serco are significant forces to be reckoned with in the field of security. What does this mean for the role of the police and the nation-state in the criminal justice process? And has the law been able to keep with such developments in terms of the regulation of policing and the response to improper conduct on the part of public and private actors therein?

This course discusses the changing contours of policing in a comparative perspective. Students will gain an insight into how different actors in policing exercise power and how this exercise of power is regulated, and what this means for compliance and legitimacy. They will also learn to examine these issues in relation to the relevant social, cultural and political context. During the course, we will identify processes of convergence and divergence that can explain differences and similarities between (or even within) countries in the area of policing. Students will also deepen their understanding of the complex relationship between power, compliance, and legitimacy. These constructs can be studied at different levels of analysis; for instance, in relation to countries as a whole, but also in relation to institutions within a country. The course will also examine the role of private actors in policing, including the commodification of security, and what this means for effectiveness, accountability and legitimacy.

The comparative approach in this course is not limited to specific continents or countries and, by the end of the course, students will be able to assess the challenges to legitimacy of actors in public and private policing in Western-European countries and the US, but also in, for example, Latin-American or Asian countries. Students will benefit from guest lectures from experts and, where possible, field trips to criminal justice institutions.

Course objectives

Objectives of the course

Upon completing this course, students will be able to:

  • Analyse key developments in public and private policing in a comparative perspective

  • Critically evaluate the consequences in the field of criminal justice of the involvement of private actors in policing

  • Use a comparative approach to assess the implications for compliance and legitimacy of the way power is exercised and regulated by public and private actors in policing

  • Reflect on the added value and limitations of a comparative approach to the study of criminal justice issues and actors in the field of policing


The timetable of this course can be found in uSis

Mode of instruction


  • Number of (2 hour) lectures: 5

  • Names of lecturers: Dr. K.M. Pitcher and Dr. E.G. van ‘t Zand-Kurtovic

  • Required preparation by students: Mandatory reading to be announced.


  • Number of (2 hour) seminars: 5

  • Names of instructors: Dr. K.M. Pitcher and Dr. E.G. van ‘t Zand-Kurtovic

  • Required preparation by students: Mandatory reading to be announced.

Other methods of instruction

  • Description: Office hours: Monday 10-11AM.

  • Number of (2 hour) instructions: 5

  • Names of instructors: Dr. K.M. Pitcher and Dr. E.G. van ‘t Zand-Kurtovic

  • Required preparation by students: You are required to make an appointment prior to attending office hours, by sending an email with your question to

Assessment method

Examination form(s)

  • Portfolio of assignments (50%)

  • Final paper (50%)

  • All requirements mentioned above have to be met and the two components of the final grade should be at least a 5.5 in order to complete the course successfully. If this is not the case, the lowest partial grade will be registered as final grade.

  • There will be a resit for both the portfolio and for the final paper.

  • The final grade for the portfolio consists of 3 assignments, for which a total of 30 marks can be achieved. Each of the two assignments will be given a mark out of 10. Students who have achieved less than 16.5 marks in total, can resubmit only the individual assignment(s) marked lower than 5.5. It is not possible to resubmit assignments that have been marked higher than 5.5 or to resubmit assignments with a total mark of 16.5 or above.

  • The partial exams that have been finished with a passing grade, will be valid up to and including the academic year following the year in which the grade has been achieved. To this there is one exception: when the learning objectives, content, design or examination of a course has been changed, the course coordinator can decide that the validity of the partial exam concerned has expired due to didactic reasons. This will be stated in the course description of the academic year in which the change(s) will be implemented.

Submission procedures
Assignments are submitted electronically through Blackboard (Turnitin).


More information on this course is offered in Blackboard.

Reading list

Obligatory course materials

  • Mandatory and recommended reading will be listed in the course handbook and on Blackboard.


Students have to register for courses and exams through uSis.

Contact information

  • Coordinator: mw. dr. E.G. van 't Zand-Kurtovic

  • Work address: KOG/C1.12

  • Contact information:

  • Telephone number: 071 – 527 7528

  • Email:


  • Institute: Criminology

  • Department: Criminal Law and Criminology

  • Room number secretary: B3.11

  • Opening hours: 9AM-5PM

  • Telephone number secretary: +71 527 7528

  • Email: