European Journal of Policing Studies

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Issue 1, 2017 Expand all abstracts

Aims and Scope

Authors Antoinette Verhage, Lieselot Bisschop, Wim Hardyns e.a.

Antoinette Verhage

Lieselot Bisschop

Wim Hardyns

Dominique Boels


Authors Chaim Demarée and Els Enhus
Author's information

Chaim Demarée
Chaim Demarée has been a researcher at the Department of Criminology at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel where he engaged in different observational studies about the police and policing in larger cities. He focusses on the occupational culture, policing practices and interactions with the public. (corresp: chaim.demaree@vub.ac.be).

Els Enhus
Els Enhus is master in sociology and holds a PhD in criminology on the Belgian central police policy and discourses between 1980 and 1997. She is professor at the Department of Criminology of the Free University of Brussels. She currently lectures on ‘Theoretical criminology and victimology’, ‘Crime and the city’, ‘Research methods 2’ and ‘SPSS’. Her research aims are to study the role and impact of discourses in the social construction of security and crime and the (official) societal reaction. She studies security issues (crime statistics, fear of crime, multi-agency approach, prevention, cybercrime, new developments in criminology), police questions (daily work, culture, structure), the relationship between city and crime (public spaces, neighbourhoods, youth gangs, migration) and motivations of offenders (burglary and armed robbery). She is member of CRiS (Crime & Society research group) in the research domain ‘Security, prevention and policing’ and is promotor of variety of research projects.

Storytelling about rural policing – the social construction of a professional identity –

Keywords police, police culture, rural policing, storytelling
Authors Jan Terpstra
AbstractAuthor's information

    Rural police officers try to construct the identity of rural policing by telling stories. In their stories they explain how rural policing works and what its strength is. According to these stories, relations between police and citizens are different from what is usual in the cities. Rural police officers are more used to solving problems by ‘talking’ and not by ‘escalation’. Rural officers work on a broad range of problems, including all kinds of service tasks. Two factors are often mentioned why the rural police have a different (and ‘better’) way of working. The long patrol distances make that it takes a long time before assistance will arrive, so initially officers have to deal with problems on their own. The social density of rural communities makes that police officers have different positions compared with city officers. As a result rural officers are more focused on peace keeping than on rule enforcement.

Jan Terpstra
Jan Terpstra is professor of criminology at the University of Nijmegen, the Netherlands. His main topics of research are the police, plural policing, private policing, and (local) policies of public safety and security (corresp: j.terpstra@jur.ru.nl).

Gender expressions, morality and the use of physical force by the Argentine police

Keywords Physical Force, police, Ethnography, Gender, Moral Standards
Authors Sabrina Calandrón
AbstractAuthor's information

    This paper analyzes the phenomenon of the use of police force and gender moralities in training and professional practices of police women. The central question is how physical and lethal force produces contradictions between making progress careers and agreeing with expressions of femininity that inhibit, a priori, such skills. This paper is the result of an ethnographic fieldwork displayed over five years in different police Argentinian institutions. The fieldwork includes interviews and participant observation in training facilities and workplaces (police stations, patrols and special operations) of Argentina’s Federal Police, Argentine National Gendarmerie, Buenos Aires Provincial Police and Argentine Naval Prefecture. Ethnographic descriptions discuss the idea of homogeneity of police culture and contribute to think about flexibility, permeability and diversity in the police profession. This article presents arguments and empirical data which lead to conceive police as a space of tensions regarding the conceptions of gender. On the one hand, police officers (males and females) reaffirm some hegemonic ideas of gender; on the other hand, in their speeches they break the traditional notion that femininity systematically implies weakness. In this sense, the display of physical force is incorporated by women in the course of their police careers and exercised in contexts of police actions, but reinterpreted when justifying their actions against judicial agents.

Sabrina Calandrón
Sabrina Calandrón is an assistant professor of Department of Sociology at La Plata National University and a researcher at the National Scientific and Technical Research Council of Argentina (CONICET). She received her doctorate in Social Anthropology from National University of San Martín, her thesis was published as Género y sexualidad en la Policía Bonaerense (UNSAM Edita, 2014) (corresp:sabrinacalandron@gmail.com).

Police culture, talk and action: narratives in ethnographic data

Keywords police culture, canteen culture, Ethnography, narrative analysis, police discretion
Authors Elizabeth Turner and Mike Rowe
AbstractAuthor's information

    The idea of police culture is almost as old as the field of police studies itself, and has been traced to the coincidence of concerns about violent and discriminatory police conduct with shifts in intellectual fashion, including a turn towards ethnography. This article considers some criticisms of the idea of police culture before engaging with a recent narrative turn in analysis. Drawing on fieldnotes from an ongoing ethnographic study of police in England it explores the use of a narrative approach to fieldnotes. The article concludes that extending the narrative approach to police work in this way shows significant potential for developing our understanding of why police behave as they do. Ethnography alone can provide the kinds of unique insights into overlapping and interconnected narratives that help to situate and order the particularities of police work in relation to the broader social and political context.

Elizabeth Turner
Dr Elizabeth (Liz) Turner is a lecturer in criminology at the University of Liverpool. Her research and writing focus on a range of issues, including democratic policing, public confidence in criminal justice and the public role of criminology. She has been engaged in the ethnographic study of policing since 2015 and is currently particularly interested in investigating the historical, political and practical significance of the concept of police discretion (corresp:lizt@liverpool.ac.uk).

Mike Rowe
Dr Mike Rowe is an academic with teaching and research interests in all things public service at the University of Liverpool. His current research is a long-term ethnographic study of discretion in two police forces, observing uniformed officers in the course of their duties. He is the co-editor of the Journal of Organizational Ethnography and has been involved in organising an annual Ethnography Symposium for the past twelve years.

Danger is also what patrol officers make of it

Keywords policing, occupational culture, patrol, proactivity, enacted environment
Authors Chaim Demarée
AbstractAuthor's information

    In this paper, it will be argued that proactive policing and patrol actions are creative, timed, executed but concealed policing activities. Proactivity appears as an arranged, organised and meaningful cultural artefact. It involves rituals performed in an enacted or staged environment in which images of a dangerous environment, crime, suspiciousness of the population and an organisational context of an unstable ‘fire brigade’ patrol department serve as a background to engage in practices that define, even reconstruct, the environment as such. Hence, this paper elaborates on how patrol officers ‘cope’ with mundane reactive policing in an unpredictable organisational context by enacting dramatized crime-fighting roles. In order to explain and frame the proactive patrol activities that appeared, a cultural sociological framework is suggested which questions a stress-coping model to explain how culture and action develop and which allows us to understand these activities from a subjective point of view. This article thereby focusses on meaning-making, agency and contexts of street-level policing and folklore.

Chaim Demarée
Chaim Demarée has been a researcher at the Department of Criminology at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel where he engaged in different observational studies about the police and policing in larger cities. He focusses on the occupational culture, policing practices and interactions with the public (corresp: chaim.demaree@vub.ac.be).

Interaction practices of patrol and district police officers in contact with the population

Keywords police, interaction with the population, criminology, observation
Authors Caroline De Man
AbstractAuthor's information

    This contribution deals with the police interaction that comes about through contact with the population in public places. We propose to focus this contribution on the interaction methods that make it possible to explore the characteristics of the patrol and district police officers. First we will report on the interactional practices ‘specific’ to one or another of these professional groups. We will then highlight the ones which, on the contrary, seem similar. Supported by the detailed description of encounters between police officers and the population and an analysis inspired by the sociology of Goffman (1973, 1974, 1991), our results highlight the concrete proceedings of the interactions, a dimension rarely investigated in police sociology. And although our results intend to expand knowledge on the practices of police in contact with the public, this interactional ‘entryway’ allows us to analyse autonomy as a police resource that is susceptible to supporting recognition of the population’s legitimate engagement during interactions with the police.

Caroline De Man
Caroline De Man is member of the Criminological Research Center at Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB). Her main research interests are the police practices in contact with the population. Her other research interests revolve around the juvenile delinquency, and the methodological issues in social science. She works in Journal du droit des jeunes (JDJ), dedicated to legal issues around the youth in Belgium (corresp: cdeman@ulb.ac.be).

The racialization of ethnic minority police officers and researchers: on positionality and (auto)ethnographic fieldwork

Keywords police, autoethnography, ethnic minorities, racialization, diversity
Authors Sinan Çankaya
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article reflects on the personal, epistemological and methodological dilemmas of conducting (auto)ethnographic fieldwork within the police organisation. The argument is that positionality and ascribed identities complicate existing dilemmas of using participant observation within the police context, such as maintaining a researcher’s role, acceptance, building trust and coping with ostracism. The article also deals with the tension of being a member of the organisation and a researcher at the same time, as well as the pains, but also the gains, of doing auto-ethnographic fieldwork within the police organisation as a frequently racialized (male) member of an ethnic minority.

Sinan Çankaya
Sinan Çankaya (1982) is a writer and anthropologist. His PhD dissertation was on in- and exclusion within the Amsterdam police organization (Safer outside than inside, 2011). He then conducted a research on ethnic profiling (The Control of Martians and other scum, 2012). Sinan is currently working as an assistant professor at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (corresp: s.cankaya@vu.nl).

Perplexing positions: the researcher’s role and ethics in the field

Keywords Police interrogations, juveniles, ethnography, ethical issues, methodological issues
Authors Camille Claeys, Sofie De Kimpe and Els Dumortier
AbstractAuthor's information

    While undertaking qualitative research, researchers often experience issues with an emotional or ethical charge. This backstage reality of the research process is not often discussed in public. In this article, we argue that (ethical) research inheres an important learning process. Research errors – in this article ‘dilemmas’ – should be revealed to the academic world rather than swept under the carpet. Researchers should be encouraged to describe and reflect on these dilemmas as it helps them to become more aware of what they are doing when they are in the thick of their research. Using this (ethical) reflexivity, our article examines real ethical dilemmas encountered in the field by a junior PhD researcher. In doing so, more methodological awareness was created and the research quality was increased. We hope this ethical reflexive exercise will inspire other researchers and contribute as such to the greater body of methodological knowledge.

Camille Claeys
Camille Claeys is currently conducting a PhD on the topic of police interrogations of juvenile suspects at the Department of Criminology of the VUB, under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Els Dumortier and Prof. Dr. Sofie De Kimpe. She holds a Master degree in law and received the Jura Falconis price for her master thesis “The rights of minors with regard to their personality file: Legal guarantees and confidentiality of the personality file in the context of transfer”. She currently works on a project funded by the Flemish Fund of (fundamental) Scientific Research (corresp: Camille. claeys@vub.ac.be).

Sofie De Kimpe
Prof. Dr. Sofie De Kimpe holds a Master degree in political science, criminology and has a PhD in criminology. She teaches subjects on policing and criminological methodology at the department of Criminology of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium). She worked as an academic expert for the Minister of Internal Affairs and the Belgian Federal police, managing a project ‘police, a learning organization’. In 2013 she returned to the VUB as a full time member of the Crime & Society Research group. She is research-coordinator of the Strategic Research Program “Crossing Borders: crime, culture and control”. She is member of different editorial boards. Currently she supervises Phd theses and research projects on police interrogations of young suspects, the impact of deontology education on police officers and socialization processes in police culture. She is also founding member and member of the steering group of the ESC Working Group on Policing.

Els Dumortier
Prof. Dr. Els Dumortier holds a master’s degree in law and in criminology and she obtained her PhD in Criminology. She is professor in “youth law”, “youth criminology”, “constitutional criminal law” and in “methods of criminological research” at the Faculty of Law and Criminology at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium). Her research specifically focuses on questions concerning youth justice (practices) and children’s rights both in contemporary times and in the past (20th century). Currently, Els Dumortier is particularly interested in police interrogations of juvenile offenders, in judicial trajectories and the impact of juvenile justice interventions and in child victimology. She participates in several national and international scientific networks in the domain of youth justice (Dutch, English and French speaking), both contemporary focused and historical.

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