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Why is the concept of 'occupational culture' important for an understanding of how police officers work?

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Introduction

Why is the concept of 'occupational culture' important for an understanding of how police officers work? Interest in police culture has grown in recent years out of a concern that it is seen as one of the main obstacles in the way of police reform. The culture of the police - the values, norms, perspectives and craft rules - which inform their conduct is, of course, neither monolithic, universal nor unchanging. The concept of police culture in the criminological literature is loosely defined. Manning (1977: 143) refers to the 'core skills, cognition's, and affect' that define 'good police work'. It includes 'accepted practices, rules and principles of conduct that are situational applied, and generalized rationales and beliefs' (Manning 1889:360). Police culture is not, however, primarily negative. It is seen to be functional to the survival of police officers in an occupation considered to be dangerous, unpredictable, and alienating. The bond of solidarity between officers 'offers its members reassurance that the other officers will "pull their weight" in police work, that they will defend, back up and assist their colleagues when confronted by external threats and that they will maintain secrecy in the face of external investigations' (Goldsmith 1990: 33-4). Therefore, the cop culture has developed as a pattern set of understanding which helped to cope with and adjust to pressures and attentions which confront the police. ...read more.

Middle

Although as Peel, Rowen and Mayne claim social isolation is the price to be paid. This has a direct result on the culture of policing as it creates internal solidarity and also the need to be able to rely on colleagues in a tight spot and a proactive armour shielding the force as a whole from public knowledge in fractions. Policemen have one of the highest divorce rates in the country. There's always a bit of spare round the corner, because of the glamour of the job' (Reiner, 1978, p. 212). We must also acknowledge the nature of work the police deal with ranging from burglaries, shop-lifting to horrific road accidents, rape and murder. It would be an assumption that they require that close-knit support from each other. Seven important groups have been developed and distinguished of the types of people/groups the police may interact with including the following; 1 - Good class villains 2 - Police Property 3 - Rubbish 4 - Challengers 5 - Disarmers 6 - Do-gooders 7 - Politicians Good Class villains are professional, or at least experienced criminals. Pursuing them is seen as worthwhile, challenging and rewarding indeed the raison d'evtre of the police mans life. Also, Police property - they are low status powerless groups whom the dominant majority see as problematic or distasteful. The majority are prepared to let the police deal with their 'property' and turn a blind eye to the manner in which this is done. ...read more.

Conclusion

These styles are not fixed. An unsuccessful 'mobile' may eventually become a cynical ;'street cop'. Some claim that there are four main types of police orientation: the bobby, uniform carrier, new centurion and the professional. The types of police officers affects the occupational culture. For example, the 'bobby' is an ordinary 'copper' applying the law with discretionary common sense, in a peace-keeping role, whereas the 'uniform-carrier', is the completely cynical and disillusioned time-server 'who'll never answer the phone if he can help it as it might be a job at the other end!' The 'new centurion' is one who believes in a crusade against crime and disorder and the safety of society. More commonly, the 'professional' policeman is ambitious and career-conscious, with an appropriately balanced appreciation of the value of all aspects of policing from crime -fighting to sweeping the station floors, equipping him for the largely public relations function of senior rank (Reiner, 1978, Ch. 12) In conclusion, I believe that having an understanding of 'occupational culture' does help our perception of how the police work. As discussed the police force work long shifts on a twenty-four basis whereas the average civilian would work a Monday to Friday nine while five occupation. This, of course, affects how one relates to others and also how effective one does their job. Word Count: 1,356 Word Limit: 1,500 Law 117 - Paul Feely 030131970 Non-assessed Amjed Zaman 1 ...read more.

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