In Britain police officers and most politicians are apt to say that we have 'policing by consent'. They seldom specify what the phrase means or how the consent is demonstrated. But whether it refers to aspiration or achievement, 'policing by consent' is an intriguing notion. In what sense can it exist and is user control, the phrase employed elsewhere in this study, consistent with policing by consent? To tackle these issues we have to begin by asking what policing is.