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The preferred policing styles of police probationers after ten months service as a function of the strength of socialization

Lawrie, Lynne (1995) The preferred policing styles of police probationers after ten months service as a function of the strength of socialization. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86129) (KAR id:86129)


The police have received much media attention over recent years over crime rates (British Crime Survey 1994, Home Office Statistical Bulletin 1995) and criticism of procedures (eg Scarman 1986). The research aimed to address the issue of different policing styles adopted by individual officers (eg Reiner 1978, Brown 1981), and to determine whether it was possible to predict the particular policing style an officer would adopt from background factors such as gender, education and age. In addition, the differential effect on policing style of being a part of the police organization was considered in terms of how strongly or weakly individuals felt that being a police officer was a part of their identity.

Based on the basic tenets of social identity theory (Tajfel and Turner 1978) it was hypothesized that groups of new recruits who were not like the stereotypical group member (recruits who were female, older and/or less educated). Using the same assumption it was hypothesized that probationers who had adopted the police identity strongly would also adopt the stereotypical policing style. The stereotypical style was considered to be a crime fighting approach (Van Maneen 1975) compared to a more service-offering style.

The findings showed that nearly all probationers had adopted a strong identity as a police officer after 20 weeks service, supporting social identity theory. However, problematically for the theory, the majority of probationers also felt embarrassed to be a police officer. This is discussed in terms of social creativity techniques.

Gender proved to be a significant predictor of strength of identification in the hypothesized direction. However, age and education did not.

Policing styles, in particular the crime fighting style, here referred to as 'thief-taker' was predicted by being male, having up to 1 or 2 'A' levels and being in the Metropolitan police. Service style, referred to as 'service-provider' was associated with Kent police. Policing styles were largely predicted by initial variables on entry to the police service rather than measures taken after 20 weeks of service.

Overall, the study offered mixed support for social identity theory. In addition it would seem that degree of identification is not an important variable in predicting policing styles. It was also found that gender, police force and training are important issues in the socialization of probationers.

The implications and limitations of the findings are discussed in relation to the experience of female officers and training.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86129
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: Police; Kent; identity
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:29 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2022 14:09 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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