Mayberry revisited: A review of the influence of police paramilitary units on policing

Garth den Heyer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


In the mid-1990s, two separate surveys of the Police Paramilitary Units (PPUs) were undertaken, which have been used to assert that police are becoming militarised. The assertion is based on the survey's findings that the number of PPUs had increased between 1980 and 1995 in cities with populations between 25,000 and 50,000, and cities with populations of more than 50,000. The survey authors' claim, from their limited analysis of the survey findings, that the increase in number of PPUs or in the increase in the number of their deployments is not a result of the increase in criminal offending nor is it because policing has entered a new era. This paper refutes the proposition that policing has become or has increased in militarisation and analyses the original survey findings and subsequent literature in a wider context, which includes the argument of the professionalisation or the evolution of policing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)346-361
Number of pages16
JournalPolicing and Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • militarisation
  • paramilitary
  • police
  • SWAT Units


Dive into the research topics of 'Mayberry revisited: A review of the influence of police paramilitary units on policing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this