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Portrait David Brehm Sausdal. Photo: Johan Persson.

David Sausdal

Associate professor | Associate senior lecturer

Portrait David Brehm Sausdal. Photo: Johan Persson.

Dirty harry gone global? On globalising policing and punitive impotence


  • David Sausdal

Summary, in English

This chapter focuses on the experiences of powerlessness among police detectives in a global world. Specifically, it discusses how Danish detectives often feel that certain foreign national criminals get away with their crimes with impunity – here not necessarily meaning that criminals are not caught and sentenced. Rather, what increasingly frustrates Danish detectives are their experiences of how even convicted foreign national criminals do not seem to think of their conviction as a real form of punishment, as something which is painful or problematic. To the detectives, such unaffectedness troubles not only the intended deterrent aspects of the law and the criminal justice system, it also comes off as a professional provocation – as a sad symbol of how all their work is, in the end, futile. As the chapter goes on to describe, this futility, this police impotence, sometimes becomes a catalyst in the police applying their own sort of ‘street justice’, to make sure that punishment is not only formally handed down but also truly experienced as such by the foreign national criminal. And as the chapter concludingly ponders, such Dirty Harry-style practices may indeed be on the rise in an increasingly globalising world of crime and policing. As not only Danish detectives but police officers worldwide experience that criminals from other places and parts of the world appear unstirred by the threat and force of the criminal justice system, there is a growing risk of the police taking the delivery of punishment into their own hands.


  • Department of Sociology

Publishing year







Policing race, ethnicity and culture : Ethnographic perspectives across Europe

Document type

Book chapter


Manchester University Press


  • Law and Society




  • ISBN: 9781526165589
  • ISBN: 9781526165596