Police Use of Deadly Force in Brazil and the Philippines

New PRIF report analyzes the role of structural factors in police use of force in the two countries

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Brazil and the Phili­ppines both have compa­ratively high rates of police use of deadly force, which have addi­tionally increased in recent years. The report ana­lyzes the extent to which structural variables such as demo­graphy, eco­nomy, and crime rates can explain vari­ations in police lethality at the subna­tional level. It draws on the contrasting expla­nations of conflict theory and consensus theory. The former holds that police (violence) is often used by elites to protect their interests and suppress a poten­tially dangerous underclass. The latter, on the other hand, assumes that the police is a central insti­tution for ensuring secu­rity and that police force is therefore directed against those who attack the social order rather than against specific groups.

However, the results of the ana­lysis are not parti­cularly consistent with either theory. Furthermore, the variables for which corre­lation can be proven differ greatly between the two countries. In attempting to find possible expla­nations for deadly police force, therefore, context and inter­mediary factors such as meaning, culture, normative order, socially esta­blished practices, and the poli­tical situation must be considered.

The authors of the report are Peter Kreuzer and Ariadne Natal.

Download: Kreuzer, Peter / Natal, Ariadne (2023): Police use of deadly force in Brazil and the Philippines: What macro-level factors tell us, PRIF Report 4/2023, Frankfurt/M.