In most courses on British politics, law and order and the judiciary have been treated as something of an ‘optional extra’. In itself this tells us something important about traditional understandings of the British system of government. In many liberal democracies, notably the United States, the judiciary is a fully separate branch of government, whose role is specified within a written constitution. In the UK it has a more ambiguous status. Both the judiciary and the police have tended to be regarded as ‘above’ (or at least ‘outside’) politics.