Ethics in policing

Research Institution / Organisation

The Open University

Principal Researcher

Ben Hargreaves

Level of Research


Project Start Date

April 2016

Research Context

​The aim of the research is to establish the fundamental aspects of an ethic of policing as it develops within practitioners.

People join the police from a range of backgrounds and previous experiences and through a process of transformation become officers.
This research seeks to discover how individuals identify as police officers and in doing so develop an ethic of policing. The research will look at theories of identity, power the self, agency and subjectivity with a view to increasing the understanding of the ways in which people respond to a range of internal and external stimuli that ultimately identify them as people in both a bureaucratic and political sense.
The research will look at codes of ethics and the work of ethics committees in influencing individual behaviour, drawing on other research which has addressed group attitudes towards problems, such as Janis's 'groupthink' and work by Bauman looking at conformism.

Research Methodology

​The research will be a combination of literature review and qualitative analysis. The qualitative analysis will be based on a longitudinal study of a cohort of student police officers as they enter a force, tracking them over a 4 year period to see how their self-awareness, identity and ethics develop in their new roles. There will also be an element of documentary review, looking at written material which either can be seen as influencing ethical issues or can be interpreted as being evidence of an organisational or individual ethic.

Interim reports and publications

​Not available

Date due for completion

January 2022
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