Can higher education reduce the negative consequences of police occupational culture amongst new recruits?

Cox, Carol and Kirby, Stuart orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-3049-1248 (2018) Can higher education reduce the negative consequences of police occupational culture amongst new recruits? Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, 41 (5). pp. 550-562. ISSN 1363-951X

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There is considerable evidence to illustrate police occupational culture can negatively influence service delivery and organizational reform. To counteract this, and to improve professionalism, the Police services of England & Wales will become a graduate profession from 2020, although little empirical evidence exists as to what impact this will have. This study examines the implications of a police degree course on its students.
Initially a survey was conducted with 383 University students studying for Criminal Justice related undergraduate degrees in a UK University. This indicated Police Foundation degree students (N=84), identified themselves as being different, and behaving differently, to other University students. To explore the reasons for this, four focus groups were conducted with this cohort, during their two-year degree programme.
The study found that the Police Foundation Degree students quickly assimilated a police identity, which affected their attitudes and behavior. The process led to a strengthening of ties within their own student group, at the expense of wider student socialization.
Originality/ Value
The study provides new findings in relation to undergraduate students who undertake a University based degree programme, tailored to a future police career. The results have implications for both police policy makers and those in Higher Education as it highlights the strength of police occupational culture and the implications for the design of future police related degree programmes.

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