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One example is the so-called broken windows theory. That is that police ought to bear down on anti-social behaviors such as broken windows, spitting on the sidewalk, "squeegee men," (window washers), or subway turnstile "jumping" on the theory that these were harbingers of more serious criminal behavior.

Are there any examples of police forces who were explicitly authorized to prosecute offenses against social order that were technically not criminal or groups of individuals who had an official mandate from a legitimate government to arrest and/or punish individuals for behaviors that had not been criminalized?

If there have been such polices, what were the names of those organisations and their regimes?

Ignore all cases of autocratic or 'personal rule', where it is difficult to distinguish between "anti-social", "criminal" and "treasonous"; limit answers to examples of societies which have an established governance and a mechanism by which to criminalize behavior.

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    Why would a regime need a different branch of police to deal with whatever they feel is "anti-social" behaviour? All the regime has to do is pass a law to make said behaviour illegal, and then let the regular police deal with it. Example: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_4000/1958 – yannis Nov 3 '13 at 22:30
  • What do you mean by anti-social? Do you mean laws that are based primarily on social behavior, such as anti-homosexuality laws, etc.? – ihtkwot Nov 4 '13 at 2:51
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    The Islamic Religious Police come to mind. Likewise Soviet Era trials for "hooliganism" which was an ill defined crime against social order. – Mark C. Wallace Nov 4 '13 at 11:46
  • I suspect that the answer can only be found in regime's that are either theocratic or communist/socialist; such governments recognize a non-legislative mandate for social order. Counter-examples welcome. – Mark C. Wallace Nov 4 '13 at 11:57
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    Generally these are called "mobs". – T.E.D. Nov 4 '13 at 14:49
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Your question is really rather a complicated one, to which there isn't going to be any kind of simple answer. However let's try to adderess some of the issues as best as possible.

The first thing to note is that 'broken window theory' isn't mainly about policing. It's at least as much about fixing the broken windows if and when they are broken as it is about prosecuting window breakers. When 'broken window theory' is put into practice it is often as much about removing graffiti and cleaning up public spaces as it is about about the police.

You aren't very clear about your definition of 'social policing', but you might also like to include police activities that are not technically about law enforcement - school visits by police officers, and other activities aimed at establishing good relations between police and the public. Most police forces carry out those activities to some extent.

You don't give a clear definition of "offenses against social order" and how they differ from "criminality". Democracies that want to prevent such offenses generally do it by encoding such offenses into legislation. So if society wants to prevent people from littering, they pass a law preventing littering (making it 'criminal') rather than just prosecute litterers without a law.

Having said that, most jurisdictions have statutes that prohibit unacceptable social behaviour, often in ill-defined terms. Such laws are often called things like 'public nuisance'. Rarely is there a strict definition of what constitutes 'public nuisance', and the behaviours that can be prosecuted under it can vary with time, as what society accepts can change. 'Obscenity' is another catch-all whose limits can change as the general public view of what is acceptable changes.

In both of the above cases prosecution of offenders is done in exactly the same way as for any other offence, and through the same organizations.

You might also consider the example of the Antisocial Behaviour Order (ASBO) in the UK. This is a law that explicitly targets this kind of behaviour, but is codefied in the law (technically civil law rather than criminal in this case).

tl;dr

  • 'Broken windows theory' is about much more than policing.
  • Most jurisdictions can and do prosecute many kinds of socially unacceptable behviour under the criminal code
  • Social unacceptability is frequently written into the criminal code
  • Democracies don't usually have specific law enforcement for 'social' offenses. The job is done by regular police.
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  • The 3 paragraphs preceding the TLDR actually answer the question. I would edit everything else out then you would have a good answer. As it is it seems to be mostly an attack on the OP for asking the question – SoylentGray Nov 6 '13 at 19:35
  • Not intended to be an attack. But it is a vague question that covers a lot of ground. just trying to clarify. – DJClayworth Nov 6 '13 at 20:07
  • Are there any examples of police forces who were explicitly authorized to prosecute offenses against social order that were technically not criminal? Groups of individuals who had an official mandate from a legitimate government to arrest and/or punish individuals for behaviors that had not been criminalized? seems pretty consise to me. Same thing worded 2 ways for clarity – SoylentGray Nov 6 '13 at 20:15
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If it can cause a person to be arrested/fined/punished, then it has been criminalized; so by definition no. If that point is overlooked, then various local ordinances (I know of a case where there was a fine for cursing on a particular beach. In the US!), homeowners associations, public decency laws (or whatever term is used for the laws that make it illegal to run naked through the street), etc. For a different police force, temperance agents are the best example I can think of.

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