The book “The Critical Criminology Companion” edited by Thalia Anthony and Chris Cunneen presents the studies of various components of the criminology, provided by the prominent scholars. One of the contributors to this book, Janet Chan, famous policing researcher analyses the police culture in the historical retrospective. In the chapter “Police Culture: A Brief History of a Concept”, J. Chan highlights the roots of this phenomenon on the basis of thorough analysis of eminent scientists’ works.
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The introduction of this chapter is devoted to the definition of the term “police culture” and the main points presented in this research. The author draws reader’s attention to the components of this phenomenon and the attitude of the publicity to the image of a police officer. The scholar suggests the analysis of major works of the distinguished scientists on the history of this concept in order to understand the nature and origin of the contemporary police culture.
The research of the scientists usually was conducted on the ground of former police officers’ experience. As every occupational culture, police culture is characterized by a number of particular traits, such as customs, opinions, rules and values. Very often policemen perceive themselves as the world saviours from the disorder and chaos. Developing effective professional interaction with their colleagues, they underestimate the importance of social environment.
The author underlines the conservatism of the police officers in the questions of morality. Often, they divide the society on reliable and suspicious parts. It gives rise to the prejudices concerning the attitude to the national minorities (Chan, 2008).
The scholar claims that female police officers are unable to change the stable system of the relationships in the collective. Thus, they should obey the unspoken rules of the group and be an object of male colleagues’ ridicule. This tendency can be explained by the historical background of this profession. It also has historical roots as female police officers remain new and a rather unusual phenomenon in this service. J. Chan divides police culture into two types. “Street cop culture” treats police managers as those far from real policing routine. “Management cop culture” is concerned with the efficient organization of this routine (Chan, 2008).
Very often the peculiarities of the police culture are caused by the specificity of this work. Mutual support is of high significance in police activity. There is certain police brotherhood with their values and restrictions. The scholar states that distinctive features of police culture are similar all over the world, regardless of religion, ethnicity, and traditional differences. Police forces are characterized by salient invariability and anxiety about the changes.
The author mentions that the understanding of the police culture cannot explain the structure of this work. She underlines the significance of the historical background of this phenomenon; however, the technological, social and cultural changes influenced the development of the police culture to a considerable degree. There are certain characteristics of the attitude of experienced police officers towards new police recruits.
At first, there is an apparent hierarchy in their relationships, but it is getting more and more imperceptible over time. New policemen assimilate the behavioural norms of their elder colleagues. In the conclusion, the author underlines the heterogeneity and changeability of this concept to avoid the stereotypes. In my opinion, the strength of this chapter is the validity of the represented views and facts. The arguments of the author are rather convincing as they are presented as the compilation and profound analyses of the authoritative views on this issue.
Chan J (2008) Police Culture: A Brief History of a Concept. In: Anthony T and Cunneen C (ed.), The Critical Criminology Companion, Sydney: Hawkins Press, pp. 218-227.