European Journal of Policing Studies


Digitalization and Local Policing: Normative Order, Institutional Logics and Street-Level Bureaucrats’ Strategies

Keywords digitalization and local policing, normative order, institutional logics, street-level bureaucrats’ strategies
Authors Jan Terpstra
Author's information

Jan Terpstra
Jan Terpstra is emeritus Professor of Criminology, Faculty of Law, Radboud University, Nijmegen.
  • Abstract

      This article focuses on the question of how the local police operate in the age of digitalization. In what respects has digitalization changed the nature of local policing and policing? What processes and circumstances are relevant here? In this article a theoretical framework is presented to understand how local operational police officers use digital instruments and tools. This framework consists of elements derived from both institutional theory and the street-level bureaucracy approach. The relevance of this theoretical framework is illustrated by empirical findings from several studies on digitalization of the Dutch local police, especially a study conducted in three local teams. Four different forms of digitalization of the Dutch local police are investigated: the processing of information, the use of social media, the use of real-time intelligence and of mobile applications, and the new visibility of the police. Three theoretical concepts prove to be especially relevant for understanding how operational police officers use and adapt digital instruments and tools: their normative order, their institutional logic, and the strategies the police officers, as street-level bureaucrats, use to cope with the constraints related to digitalization.

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