Continuity and change in initial police training: A longitudinal case study.

Constable, Julian (2017) Continuity and change in initial police training: A longitudinal case study. Doctoral thesis, Anglia Ruskin University.

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Abstract

This thesis, the fieldwork for which was undertaken between 2010 and 2012, examined an initial police training programme in one police force, ‘Ashton Police’ and of one cohort of 20 student officers, over a two year period. I conducted interviews with student officers and training staff, observations of classroom and operational training and documentary analysis to produce a longitudinal case study of initial police training and early career socialisation. Whilst this was a small-scale research project, its findings are applicable to initial training and policing more broadly as well as to current reforms. I found that many of the cohort of student officers in my study already had policing experience, some in Ashton Police itself. This meant that pre-existing features of police culture served to partially undermine some of the formal intentions of the programme, from the outset. Furthermore, I found that the different types of training were all problematic. Formal, classroom based training was insufficiently connected with operational police work. Supervised field training was overly reliant on the allocation of a single field trainer for the duration of that period and was adversely affected by organisational change. Informal training (as members of operational reliefs) became so attenuated from the training process, it resembled far more a period of work rather than of training. For these reasons student officers often appeared inadequately prepared for police work. I conclude that despite the introduction of a new programme (the Initial Police Learning and Development Programme) in 2006 in Ashton Police, intended to allow innovation in the way in which initial training was delivered, considerable continuity existed alongside change. This was particularly noticeable in the long-standing conflict between, on the one hand, legalistic and procedural approaches to initial training and on the other, a more humanistic approach. It appeared at times that the purpose of initial training was not clear. In relation to the wider arena of initial police training, I argue that many of its problems originate in the historical and socioeconomic context. The reforms of initial training and the new programme, from 2006, took place in politically contentious times for the police and so, carried too great an expectation of their impact. Some aspects of reform were possibly necessary to make but were not sufficient for long-term change. I argue that a social democratic perspective of the police that focuses on the detrimental impact on the police of social conditions in ‘liberal’ (rather than ‘social’) democracies provides a fuller understanding of the limits of these and future initial training reforms.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Keywords: Police, Training, Recruits, Continuity, Change, Social democracy, Initial
Faculty: Faculty of Arts, Law & Social Sciences
Depositing User: Julian Constable
Date Deposited: 28 Mar 2018 15:37
Last Modified: 28 Mar 2018 15:37
URI: http://arro.anglia.ac.uk/id/eprint/702840

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