[Thesis]. Manchester, UK: The University of Manchester; 2012.
The thesis explores the role of academic education in police professionalisation.
Due to its high complexity, specialisation and status, detective work is well-suited
for illustrating these developments and the practical and symbolic benefits they can
bring to the police and policing as a whole. The overall approach of thesis is iterative.
Literature from police studies and sociology of professions provides the conceptual
and theoretical framework for the empirical data of 24 semi-structured interviews
conducted with 14 police national training coordinators and local police trainers.
The increasing academisation of police training and the formalisation of the police-academia
relationships suggest police professionalisation has reached a tipping point. This
is seen in the current investigative skills training in England and Wales, which is
characterised by growing centralisation, standardisation, and emphasis on formalising
the professional knowledgebase of investigations and policing – a trend which the
Professionalising Investigation Programme exemplifies. While the police (including
the investigative specialism) can be shown to display many of the qualities of professions,
it has lacked the level of instructional abstraction characterising other professions,
typically provided by higher education and, crucially, leading to externally recognised
qualifications. Developing academic police education is not without its challenges,
chief among them the perceived epistemological and cultural divide between the ‘two
worlds’ of police and academia. A successful transformation requires careful consideration
of the content and format of the arrangements, investment, support, acceptance and
engagement from police, academia and government, and a simultaneous change to cultural
dispositions (habitus) and internal and external structures (field). This is worth
the effort as a number of practical and symbolic benefits of police academic education
can be identified. It has the potential to improve the quality of service by deepening
police knowledge and understanding and facilitating community-oriented approaches.
More importantly, academic education bestows a rich cultural capital, strengthens
and legitimises police expertise, market monopoly, and status in the eyes of the public,
other professions and the government. It enables the survival of the profession, giving
it the tools to prevail in conflicts over competence and the right to define and interpret
policing and its social context. In summary, police professionalisation via academic
education can be explained in terms of agency and structure both; as a deliberate
occupational upgrading spurred by social and economic aspirations and aimed to reconceptualise
and relegitimise policing; and as an inevitable reaction to wider changes and a deeper
ontological shift taking place in the society.