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The making of a social, representative and intellectual police force - Recruitment and education of police trainees in Sweden during the 20th century

Senior Lecturer and Associate Professor, Department of History, Uppsala University Sweden. E-mail: bjorn.furuhagen@hist.uu.se.

This article presents the development of recruitment and education of police trainees in Sweden during the 20th century. The aim is to analyse the efforts to promote a role for the police and a police force that would be more social, representative and intellectual. While this has been the goal during the last ten to fifteen years, this investigation shows that the roots of these efforts go back to the 1930s. The ideas underlying recruitment originally sought the ideal police among soldiers, a foundation that metamorphosed into the desire to attract men from different social and occupational groups, and finally developed into attempts at including more women and immigrants. Gradually, police education has been prolonged with an orientation and introduction, plus increased instruction in theoretical subjects such as the social sciences, psychology and Swedish. The conclusion is that more research is needed in other countries as well, because knowledge about changes in recruitment and education can make a valuable contribution to the general field of police history.

Keywords: police history, police education, police recruitment, Swedish police, police culture

Introduction1

In 1952, an official report investigating Swedish police education proposed that police trainees should study Swedish history (SOU 1952:30 p. 81). But why should trainees study history? The subject has no obvious connection to the work of a police constable! The idea behind this suggestion by the commission of inquiry was that knowledge of history would increase the understanding of society among trainees. A short course in modern history was only one among several other proposals and ideas aimed at an increase in the time spent studying theoretical subjects such as psychology and social and political science. These kinds of subjects were seen as important in the efforts to reform police education but also to change the values and work of the police forces, and ultimately the role of the police. Teaching these subjects was also part of an ambition to foster trainees, so that they developed the right kind of personal qualities and values. The aim was to develop socially interested police constables who had democratic values and who could establish good relations with the public.

This official report was not the first to introduce these kinds of ideas – and not the last either. This article presents the development of the recruitment and education of police trainees in Sweden from the 1910s to the 1970s and discusses some parallels with the present situation. The aim is to analyse the efforts to change recruitment and education in order to promote a new police role that is more social, representative and intellectual. The sources are official reports from commissions of inquiry that the national government appointed. Through these reports it is possible to obtain information about the intentions behind the changes. The design of the recruitment and education and the changes therein are explained. Thus there are two purposes for this article: to analyse the ideas and proposals about the education and recruitment of police, and to study how recruitment and education were designed.

During the last ten to fifteen years, the education and recruitment of police trainees have been officially discussed in Sweden, and reforms have been carried out as well. The social scientists Sophie Hydén and Caroline Ljungberg (2009) have analysed the official reports and evaluations from the years 2000–2008. Their conclusion is that the discussions in all of these texts are focused on proposals aimed at promoting a social, representative and intellectual police, which was seen as a way to change attitudes and behaviours among the police force, and to improve their legitimacy. After looking closer at the meaning of this police role and the research about the present-day situation, the historical development will be analysed.

A social police officer understands people, knows how to communicate with them and how to handle different social situations, especially when women and minorities are involved. Teaching about professional ethics, equality between the sexes and multi-ethnic issues is seen as a way to improve social competence among trainees. It is also important to recruit people with these social skills. Representative police means that the police force is assembled in a way that mirrors the structure of the population. A more representative police force is supposed to give the police a higher degree of legitimacy and better contact with the public. Today there is an ambition to recruit more women and more people with non-Swedish ethnic backgrounds. An intellectual police officer is analytical and capable of reflecting upon problems and solving them independently. This can be achieved by making police education more theoretical and more academic, preferably by bringing it closer to the university system, or even making it a formal university education (Hydén & Ljungberg 2009).

The social, representative and intellectual concepts are modern, but they can be traced back historically. In an historical investigation about the development of this effort, it is thus necessary to give these terms a broader meaning than Hyden and Ljungberg use when writing about the present day. Even though these concepts have long existed, the meanings have varied over time. For example, the effort has previously not been directed towards getting female trainees per se but towards recruiting trainees that have been regarded as representative in another sense. To bring police education closer to the universities is a relatively new idea, but the efforts to develop an intellectual police force are older. The aim has basically been to improve language skills and intellectual capacity among trainees and to educate trainees that are able to grasp theoretical subjects. For example, theoretical subjects have been introduced along with the practical part of the education. The meaning of the social policing concept must also be broader in a historical context. There it is a question of not only police with social competence, communication skills and understanding of people, but also a force that understands society and knows how it works. This broader understanding of society requires subjects such as the social sciences, and includes learning about the social role of the police and the importance of assistance to the public. Knowledge about society and the supportive role of the police is, of course, also a way to facilitate contacts with the public. The concept “social” may be summed up as an understanding of both society and humanity.

The existence of shifts in meaning is also interesting in itself and can elucidate the development with which this article deals. Even though the meanings of the terms social, representative and intellectual have changed slightly during the 20th century, there are nevertheless significant essences of meaning that have not changed and that can be traced back in history from today. In spite of reservations, it is important to trace the striving for a social, representative and intellectual police back from the past. The historical development can throw light upon the present-day situation, and give deeper insights and new perspectives on on-going discussions. The efforts to reach the goal of a social, representative and intellectual police also form a fruitful starting point for an investigation into the history of recruitment and education of police trainees. Little is known about how recruitment and education have developed, but research on this topic can contribute to the field of police history.

The field of research

Present recruitment and education

Research within the field of history of education has not included police education. Another field that might be of some interest is research about professions and professionalization, an area not included here because it is a topic outside the scope of the current article. The starting point, rather, is within the field of police research and police history. According to Swedish and Norwegian scholars, there are nowadays two contrary views about what a police trainee should learn, which also reflect ideas about policework and the role of the police. Efforts to foster social, representative and intellectual police are manifestations of an official perspective emanating from politicians, jurists and officials in the judicial system, as well as other experts, such as those from the National Police Board and the Police Academy. This view emphasizes the helpful and communicative role of the police, the need for more theoretical perspectives, an analytic and systematic method of working, democratic values and anti-discriminatory attitudes. It is also important in this perspective to recruit more women and people from minority groups.

A contrasting and more traditional and pragmatic view originating from the “street cops” also seems to influence the police trainees. There is scepticism from the police trainees towards academic elements taught by scholars, as well as the favouring of the practical skills that could be brought about by police officers working as teachers. Masculinity and strength are ideals in the normative processes among trainees, who also tend to idealize the crime-fighting role with practical, physical and existing tasks (Hoel 2006, Karp & Stenmark 2007, Oppen Grundhus 2007, Petterson 2008, Lander 2013). Anglo-Saxon scholars present a similar picture. In the English police there are competing attitudes for and against changes such as increased diversity, and cultural and gendered identities (Loftus 2008). Janet Chan (2003 p. 311) gives a good summary of the situation when she illustrates the opposing views that trainees in Australia are exposed to:

The struggle over the meaning of “professionalism – ” between traditional “street cops” and those wanting to produce a “new breed” of professional police who make independent judgements, value integrity above peer solidarity, and take a more compassionate approach to policing.

There are parallels within research about the traditional police culture that reveal values such as discriminating attitudes, male chauvinism, team spirit, scepticism towards theoretical knowledge and the favouring of practical skills, and a focus on crime-fighting, strength and action. There is a PhD thesis dealing with Swedish police culture (Granér 2004). Some authors have argued that the police culture is neither homogeneous nor unchangeable, but a more complex phenomenon today (Granér 2004, Bringsrud-Fekjaer 2014 and references there). Others argue that, despite changes in society and within the police, these problems seem to persist (Loftus 2010). Thus, the attempts at forming a more social, representative and intellectual police force can be seen as a way to launch a contrasting and more positive police role rather than the views in traditional police culture (Hydén and Ljungberg 2009). But these efforts are not restricted to recruitment and education. It is also a way to promote a specific view on the role of police in general. Today there sometimes exists a strong belief among politicians, experts and police authorities, that it is possible to modify the values and the work of police forces through changes in recruitment and education. Thus, the aim of this article is to describe and analyse the historical development of this effort.

The historical development

Sweden provides an example of a historical process that has probably occurred in other European countries. But little is known about the general presence of this process. Despite much research in police history, there is a lack of investigations into the history of the education and recruitment of police. The conditions during the middle and end of the 19th and early 20th centuries, when modern police forces developed, are the most well-known. There were only male police constables during this time. Most originated from the lower classes, and they had little or no school education. The Anglo-Saxon police (including the USA) preferably recruited civilians, but soldiers were also recruited to varying extents. The police in Germany and France from the outset wanted to recruit soldiers, but some German cities also recruited civilians due to a lack of military applicants.

Ideas about representative police did not exist in the UK, Germany or France. The goal in each country was to keep the police force separate and distanced from the public, either by recruiting soldiers or people from outside the towns where they would work, for example, from the countryside or from other smaller towns. It was in the USA that the now-popular idea that a police force should mirror the population first developed during the end of the 19th century. In American towns, democratic ideas prevailed about police as part of society. For example, in New York, Irish constables patrolled districts where Irish immigrants lived.

From the beginning, there was almost no education, and trainees had to learn the job from their colleagues. They had to study police instructions and some basic law by themselves, perhaps with the help of lectures from those in command. There were no police schools, but shorter in-service training developed during the end of the 19th century. In London, the metropolitan police had a two-week in-service training during the middle of the 19th century. The first police school was probably the school that was established in Paris in 1883. From the beginning of the 20th century, police schools with short courses were established in the large towns of Western Europe, for example, in Dusseldorf in 1901. In 1907, the London metropolitan police opened its first police school with a four or five-week course that from 1914 was prolonged to ten weeks. The Nordic countries established police schools during the 1910s. However, the establishment of police schools did not mean that every constable attended. Schooling was not always compulsory, and the education was often intended for constables who were already working. In many countries, police constables in smaller towns and the countryside long managed with only short in-service training.

Instruction at the first police schools focused on providing trainees with the practical skills necessary for the job. Police regulations and instructions as well as some basic law were also taught. No obvious attempts were made to build up a social or representative police force. Nevertheless, there seem to have been some rudimentary ideas with this orientation, because sometimes there was instruction in first aid, the mother tongue, and how to act flexibly towards the public in a smooth way. (For the history above, see Martin & Wilson 1969 p. 24, Lessman 1989 Berliére 1991 p. 38–40, Reinke 1991 p.60f, Glovka-Spencer 1992 p. 96–103, Emsley 1996 p. 190–206, Taylor 1997 p. 47ff, Miller 1999 p. 25ff, Shpayer-Makov 2002 p. 98–106, Furuhagen 2004 p. 101, Klein 2010 p. 24, Emsley 2011, Hovde 2012 p. 24, Lampikoski 2012 p. 30.)

The contrast is striking between this early police education and the present situation in Europe with a trend towards a longer and more theoretical education (Jaschke 2007 p. 140–151). Several countries have discussed or decided to convert police education into a university programme with a degree. That is the case both in Denmark and Norway, where police education is a three-year university programme (Bringsrud-Fekjaer 2014). In Sweden there is now (2015) two-and-a-half years of education that includes a six-month period of practical training. The education is partly academic and is carried out in cooperation with the universities, but it does not lead to a formal university degree.

Little is known about how education developed at the first police schools, not only in Sweden but also in other countries. For example, books about the history of the Dutch, Swedish and the Danish police do not present much concerning education (Fijnaut 2008, Furuhagen 2009, Stevnsborg 2010). The history of the English police is well-known, but very little has been written about recruitment and education after the 1920s. There seems to be no profound study, even though much has been written about the history of the police in other respects. After World War One the first proposals were made to develop education for police with theoretical subjects such as English and general knowledge, as well as instruction in the law and practical training. At this time education was a local affair and not at all uniform. After World War Two, a more homogeneous education developed with district training centres/schools provided by the Home Office. The initial course was thirteen weeks long followed by training in the local force and two more short courses at the district centre within the probationary period of two years (Critchley 1967 p. 245f, Martin & Wilson 1969 p. 56, 98, Emsley 1996 p. 207, Klein 2010 p. 25).

In Germany, there was fairly ambitious police education during the Weimar Republic for the national police forces (Die schutzpolizei). Each province had a police school for this purpose. There was one year of fundamental education with practical preparation for policework and courses in basic law and public administration, as well as general knowledge (German, history, geography, mathematics and science) (Lessman 1989 p. 226–228). The education had a military and authoritarian character, as did policework and police culture. The tradition from the Weimar era continued into the 1950s and 1960s, not only with regard to education, but also to the work and the role of the police. By that time, police education lasted two to three years, and recruits lived in barracks. Team spirit, discipline, strength and masculinity characterized this education. At the end of the 1960s and during the 1970s, there were new and more radical ideas within the police, and change was underway (Weinhauer 2008, 2002).

The only comprehensive study covering the entire 20th century concerns Norway. Kjersti Hove (2012) has written a long, detailed and interesting account, but it is not focused on the efforts to create a social, representative and intellectual police force. In 1919, police education conducted by the state was established for policemen who were already working in lower positions. The basic course lasted for three months but was later prolonged to six months. After World War Two, ten months of education (plus one year in the field) contained preparation for policework, law, writing of reports and typewriting, English, Norwegian, social science and physical training. During the 1970s and 1980s, there were reforms based on the belief emanating from the state that it was possible to change the attitudes and behaviour among the rank and file towards the job of the police by means of education. Subjects such as social studies and psychology were seen as important, but law and training in policework continued to dominate the curriculum. During the 1990s, the present three-year academic education, that culminates with a bachelor's degree, was prepared and developed (Hove 2012).

There is considerable research about the entrance of women into the police. In some countries the large towns started to hire a few women in the beginning of the 20th century. These women were not ordinary constables, but rather had special tasks such as dealing with women and children. In many countries women working within the police were separated from male constables as late as the 1960s and 1970s. At that time integration began, so that women could become trainees, and then police constables, under the same conditions as men (Brown and Heindersohn 2000, Jackson 2006,). This article is not focused on the entrance of women into the police, but the theme will be briefly included in the analysis. Other scholars have written in detail about this development in Sweden (Cedermark 1985, Dahlgren 2007).

Not much historical research has been conducted about recruitment from the middle of the 20th century, nor has much been done about present-day recruitment, as has been noted by Bringsrud-Fekjaer (2014). She mentions a British review from 1992, concluding that the most typical background of a policeman seems to have been skilled working class and lower middle class. Most trainees in Norway and Sweden had similar backgrounds up to the 1970s and came from the countryside or from small towns. Few were women, and few had formal education beyond compulsory school. During the most recent decades, a different pattern has emerged. A much higher percentage of trainees have a middle class background and come from big or middle-sized towns. Every trainee has at least completed upper secondary school/high school, and some of them have studied at university level. This change is most visible in Norway, but the trend in Sweden is similar. Female trainees are much more common in both countries (40–50%). The efforts to change recruitment in Norway in favour of a more representative police force with an increased number of women go back to the beginning of the 1980s. In Sweden, there was a sharp increase in the percentage of women among trainees during the late 1970s (15% 1975; 30% 1978) (Cedermark 1985 p. 69, Larsson 2010, Peterson 2011, Bringsrud-Fekjaer 2014. SOU 1979:6 p. 264).

The development of recruitment and education since the nationalization of the Swedish police system in 1965 has been described and analysed by the social scientist Helena Stensöta (2004). Although her aim is broad and does not focus on the attempt to create a representative, social and intellectual police, Stensöta’s investigation can be used for analysing these efforts. Nationalization did not lead to any obvious new drive for a representative, social and intellectual police. During the middle of the 1970s, a new commission of inquiry was appointed (SOU 1979), which can be seen as the starting point for the later development. The minister responsible for the police wanted the commission to investigate how the role of the police as a public service institution could be developed and emphasized. It was then regarded as important for the Police Academy to teach police trainees to handle problems smoothly, and to teach them how to establish good contact with the public.

The 1980s was the time when ambitions to achieve a social, representative and intellectual police were prioritized. The government wanted to see more women within the police force, and that was re-emphasized during the 1990s. The analysis by a new commission of inquiry also stressed the need for more police with non-Swedish backgrounds. In order to gain greater legitimacy, it was important that the composition of the police force mirrored the composition of the population in terms of ethnicity and gender. Their recommendation was that police education should be reformed with more emphasis on the study of criminology, social sciences, psychiatry and juvenile delinquency.

The striving for a more intellectual police role also grew more obvious. Since 1976, the same kind of prerequisites had existed for entrance to the Police Academy as for entrance to university (school knowledge and diplomas from high school). This implied a considerable rise in the basic requirements. The police school now changed its official name to the Police Academy. The transformation of police education into university education was also discussed during the 1970s and then again during the 1980s and 1990s. This was never realized, but there were efforts to bring the Police Academy and its education in closer contact with the academic world (Stensöta 2004, chapter 7).

Methodological considerations

The sources

The sources consist mainly of official reports produced under the auspices of the Swedish state. These kinds of studies are still being conducted, published and used in approximately the same way as during the 20th century. But what kind of sources are these reports? As the name conveys, they are government reports, but it is important to make a distinction between the government and the rest of the state apparatus. It was the government that appointed the committees of inquiry that would work with the reports, and the government gave the committees instructions. These instructions show what kind of problems that the government saw and also what the committees were expected to analyse. The committees worked independently from the government, which did not control the committees directly (Friberg 2011).

The reports used in this article were the outcome of 1 to 3 years of work that resulted in texts ranging from 100 to 300 pages. They are qualified, detailed reports resulting from thorough investigations of several aspects of the recruitment and the education. Thus the reports cannot be seen as the direct views and opinions of government, but rather of the appointed experts. The government expresses its direct will with the introduction of a bill into parliament. It has been beyond the scope of this work to include the bills and other documents produced in the process that ranged from official reports to the final decisions in parliament.

The reports are the outcome of study of opinions from different interested parties and participants. There were four to six participants in the committees and one or two qualified secretaries (lawyers or police officers) who worked with the reports that have been used in this article. In addition, several experts were consulted, mostly from the field of policing and the judicial system, but also to a lesser extent from the fields of school and higher education and from the armed forces. The participants in the three most important committees relevant to this work (SOU 1938:1, 1952:30, 1965:53) were mostly a mix of police commissioners, judicial experts and people from the school system (in two committees) or the universities (on the commission). In two of the committees, the police union also had a working member. The headmaster of the Police Academy was always included as a member or as an expert.

These people were appointed by the government and its bureaucracy, which paved the way for using people with preferred opinions. But all the members and all the experts had very good qualifications and experience from their fields. With one exception, which will be described in the conclusion, direct political influence of the politicians working in the committees was limited. Thus, the conclusion is that the reports seem to be more the direct outcome of experts' work than the outcome of political proposals. In sum, the reports show indirectly the opinions of the government, but they also show the direct work and the opinions of leading people within the field of policing and the judicial system, and to a lesser extent also from people within the school system, higher education and from the police union.

The reports contains two different kinds of information that have been used for the purposes of this article. One aim is to describe and analyse how recruitment and education were actually designed, and the reports have detailed information with a description of how recruitment was organized, curricula and descriptions in detail of different subjects taught. The reports also include ideas, discussions and proposals, and the committees argue for various changes. This material has been used for the other aim, to analyse the discussions, ideas and proposals. The reports mainly mirror the views and opinions of leading people from the police authorities, the Police Academy and the judicial system, as well as different experts. This material can be compared to the official opinions and views that present-day research about different approaches to police education and police-work reveals. Just as is the case today, during the 20th century there were different opinions and approaches, but this cannot be seen in the official reports. It has not been possible to analyse other sources that might provide information about this, for example parliamentary debates or official opinions that different authorities, educational institutions, vocational schools, universities and colleges, organizations and unions delivered concerning the official reports. It is, of course, difficult to determine what trainees or ordinary constables thought.

Teaching subjects in the curriculum

The attempts to achieve a representative police force mainly appear in the development of recruitment, which will be analysed. The ideas about the education and its concrete design will also be studied. The subjects in the curriculum that clearly express the goal of a more social and intellectual police will be in focus: first aid and medicine, public administration, social studies, political and social science, psychology, Swedish and English. These will be referred to here as “theoretical subjects”. Unlike other subjects, such as instruction in policework, practice with weapons and physical training, they cannot be seen as direct and practical preparation for policework. Instead, these theoretical subjects were more about providing trainees with knowledge that could improve their understanding of society and humanity, and that could improve their social competence, intellectual skills and study capacity. This classification of theoretical subjects is not an end in itself, but rather a tool for analysing the attempts to achieve a social and intellectual police force. The historical sources also categorize and classify the subjects taught in a similar fashion, distinguishing “practical preparation” from teaching in these subjects (SOU 1952:30 p.54, SOU 1965:53 p.38, SOU 1979: 6 p. 269).

It could be argued that first aid and Swedish were also practical skills of direct use in policework, for example, to help sick and injured people in the streets and to write reports. This was partly the case, especially during the early days of police education. As shall be shown, these subjects developed into more theoretical studies and were supplemented with social and/or intellectual meaning. First aid developed into a subject that dealt with medicine and hygiene in general, into which basic social medicine was also later incorporated. In my interpretation, language instruction can be seen as part of the pathway towards a more social and intellectual police force. English was clearly introduced as a way to improve the social competence of trainees, that is, their communication skills. The recurrent complaints about the lack of skills in Swedish among trainees, and the proposals for more time for this subject in the curriculum, can be interpreted in the same way. Language instruction was also part of striving for a more intellectual police force, that is, it was to stimulate the intellectual skills among trainees and increase their capacity to study and grasp theoretical subjects. Instruction in Swedish went clearly beyond writing reports; it included reading texts with a complex content, writing essays with a logical structure and developing good style (SOU 1952:30 p.55).

Law is not seen as a theoretical subject. At the outset, law focused on basic police regulations and other instructions necessary for the job as police. The subject had direct practical applications, and should not be construed as connected to the efforts to achieve a social, representative and intellectual police force. Nor is the subject of law included among the theoretical subjects that the official reports categorize. Thus the term “law” may be somewhat misleading, since it arouses erroneous associations with the academic subject. Law is used here as a unifying term for a group of changing components about which no further details are given, such as police statutes, municipal and administrative regulations, and civil and criminal law.

By contrast, the subject of public administration lacked this direct practice. Public administration did not provide trainees with rules to follow and apply. Instead it provided them with knowledge about how the administrative and legal structures of the state, county and municipal governments were organized. This subject also developed and became the theoretical subject political and social science.

Table 1 shows how these theoretical subjects were gradually introduced into the curriculum by means of an increase in hours of instruction, from about 80 hours in the 1930s to about 230 hours in the 1970s, almost a tripling.

Table 1: Teaching hours in theoretical subjects from the 1930s to 1974

 

1930s

1938

1949

1952*

1961

1965*

1974

Teaching time in Total hours (h)

84 h

111 h

152 h

280 h

188

320 h

236 h

First aid/medicine

10

23

23

48

42

60

32

Public administration

21

21

21

52

21

 

 

Social studies

 

14

30

50

30

 

 

Political and social science #

 

 

 

 

 

60

54

Psychology

 

 

25

25

25

50

46

Swedish

53

53

53

105

70

80

64

English

 

 

 

 

 

70

40

Sources: Stensöta 2004 p. 235, SOU 1938:1, SOU 1952:30, SOU 1965:53*1952 1962 only proposals.# The two subjects, public administration and social studies, became one subject, political and social science, in 1965.

However, it is too simple to draw hasty conclusions from this table. As the increase in the number of teaching hours for the theoretical subjects occurred, the education was simultaneously prolonged from 21 weeks in the 1930s to 40 weeks in the 1970s. This means that the relative amount of time for these subjects did not increase substantially. Although the absolute number of teaching hours tripled, the length of the education had doubled during the same period. It is therefore necessary to provide a detailed description of the recruitment process and the content of the education.

History of recruitment and education in Sweden

The 1910s–1930s – The first police schools

The first Swedish police school was established 1910 in Uppsala, and it provided a nine-week-long basic education. This was a private institution run by the police commissioner of the town, but the school also received some funding from the state, the town of Uppsala and from the police union. Those who wanted to attend had to pay a fee. The curriculum contained law (including police regulations), public administration, Swedish, handwriting and first aid.

In 1917, the police in Stockholm established a police school, but there had been a fairly ambitious in-service training since the 1870s (Furuhagen 2004). This new school was aimed at educating police constables who had worked for a short time in the town. The basic course lasted 20 weeks and included policework, police regulations, law, public administration, first aid, anatomy and hygiene, typewriting, handwriting, stenography, target practice, life-saving skills, gymnastics and wrestling (SOU 1922:49 p. 76f, SOU 1938:1 p. 2f.). More than 90 per cent of those who became police constables in Stockholm during this time had previously worked in the armed forces, mostly as non-commissioned officers. There was a similar development in Malmö, then Sweden’s third largest city (Furuhagen 2004 p. 98, Nyzell 2014). In 1925, the state took over the funding and direction of the Stockholm school. Policemen from all parts of the country could from now on attend the police school in Stockholm. The private school in Uppsala was closed (SOU 1938:1 p.2f, SOU 1952:30 p.13ff). The same year, a former trainee from the school in Uppsala, who also had served as a police constable, started a small private police school in southern Sweden. It existed for a few decades, without any official support or recognition (Johansson 1994 p. 44).

Table 2: Allocation of subjects as percentage of the curriculum from the 1930s to 1974

 

1930s

1938

1949

1952*

1961

1965*

1974

Length in Weeks (w)Teaching hours (h)

21 w556 h

21 w716 h

21 w694 h

31 w996 h

29 w887 h

41 w1297 h

40 w1295 h

First aid/medicine

2

3

3

5

5

5

3

Public administration

4

3

3

5

2

 

 

Social studies

 

2

4

5

3

 

 

Political and social science #

 

 

 

 

 

5

4

Psychology

 

 

4

3

3

4

4

Swedish

10

7

8

10

8

6

5

English

 

 

 

 

 

5

3

Theoretical subjects total

16 %

15 %

22 %

28 %

21 %

25 %

19 %

Policework

23

25

26

25

27

33

47

Law

26

25

20

23

26

19

12

Physical training

11

16

18

14

19

9

11

Weapon training

Volunt

1

6

8

3

3

 

Office techniques

20

9

 

 

 

5

3

Civil defence

 

3

2

2

2

 

 

Motor vehicles/traffic rules

 

 

 

 

 

5

6

Various

4

6

6

 

2

1

2

Sources: Stensöta 2004 p. 235, SOU 1938:1, SOU 1952:30, SOU 1965:53*1952 and 1965 proposals.# The two subjects, public administration and social science, became one subject, political and social science, in 1965.Training with weapons was voluntary during the 1930s and was included in policework in 1974.

It is obvious that the Swedish police force could not be described as social, representative or intellectual during this time. All the constables were men, and the recruitment was biased towards former soldiers. The education focused on practical skills, police instructions and some law. The subject public administration, however, provided limited education about society. With teaching of first aid, there was also a little bit of encouragement to help the public.

Throughout the 1930s, the curriculum at the police school was approximately the same as earlier, but Swedish became a new subject. Almost every police trainee at the school was already working as a constable. The police system was based on a municipal organization, whereby each town and rural district formed its own police force. Thus recruitment was also decentralized to each municipal police district. Table 2 shows the allocation of different subjects as a percentage of the curriculum during the 1930s. The so-called theoretical subjects constituted only a minor part of the curriculum, 16 per cent, with Swedish as the newest and largest of these subjects. Public administration dealt mainly with the Swedish state, regional and municipal administration.

Most instruction dealt with other subjects, primarily law (including police regulations) and “policework” that together constituted almost 50 per cent of teaching time. Physical training was also important, but training with weapons remained voluntary during the 1930s. Training in handwriting, typewriting and stenography was also part of the education in that decade (“office techniques” in the table).

1938–1949 – The introduction of social studies

The police school in Stockholm and its curriculum were reorganized in 1938. A commission of inquiry had written an official report with proposals and analyses. Changes in society had made apparent the need to revamp the basic course and the need for more police constables. The new 1938 statute governing the police school established two aims for the education: to supply the police candidates with theoretical and practical education, and to foster “the personal qualities, the personal strength and the dignity in conduct necessary for a policeman”. This was the first time that the fostering part of the education was emphasized.

Table 2 shows the curriculum for the basic course at the police school after the reorganization in 1938. The course remained 21 weeks long, but there were more hours devoted to courses each day, which meant that there was room to change the curriculum somewhat. Policework and law remained the two largest subjects. The theoretical subjects maintained their position with 15 per cent of teaching time, and were thus a small part of the curriculum during the 1940s. One important change was the introduction of social studies as a new subject. The commission of inquiry that had analysed the need for changes wrote that the helping role of the police in society had become more important. This development should be given attention and supported, according to the commission, in order to contribute to the creation of a more positive attitude towards the police among the public. Thus, it was important that the police trainees received education about social conditions: different classes and different occupational groups, migration, living conditions and social problems. It was also essential to gain knowledge of what measures could be taken in society to help people and to counteract different problems. The time allotted to first aid and medicine was enlarged slightly, while instruction in public administration and Swedish remained at the same level as before (see Tables 1 and 2). The official report, however, wrote that it was a problem that many of the police trainees did not have good enough knowledge of Swedish (SOU 1938:1 p. 9–27).

During the 1940s, approximately 50 per cent of trainees at the police school had a background as non-commissioned officers in the armed forces. Recruitment was organized as it had been previously; trainees had already worked one or two years within a local police force. This meant that recruitment was a local affair. However, there were some general regulations governing police recruitment, for example, prerequisites concerning school completion and personal qualities. In 1948, the requirements for recruitment were made more precise and were considered binding. It was now necessary to be 21 years old and have good physical fitness. The personal qualities listed were “trustworthiness”, “a reliable way of living”, “good judgment” and “a peaceful temperament”. It was also required that trainees have a “civic attitude” and “decent general knowledge”. In addition to these pre-requisites, there were instructions from the government to all police commissioners in Sweden to recruit only those people who were “reliable in a civic sense” and with “a democratic attitude” (SOU 1952:30 p.11–32, 53–63, 74–78, 281).

All the police constables were men. However, since the beginning of the 20th century, in the larger towns of Sweden, there had been a very limited number of “police sisters”. These women did not have formal positions as police constables. Instead, they had the special task of dealing with women and children. Before 1948, there was no regulation of the qualifications for becoming a police sister. However, most of these women had experience and/or education from the field of healthcare and social welfare. On two occasions during the 1940s, the police school held a thirteen-week course for police sisters. In 1948, it was decided that the same rules and the same qualifications should be applied to the prospective police sisters as to the male police trainees. In addition, the police sisters were also required to have experience in healthcare and social welfare. Women were allowed to attend the ordinary courses from 1949 onward, but they were still assigned special tasks within the police corps (SOU 1938:1 chapter 11 p. 66ff, SOU 1952:30 p. 18–30, Dahlgren 2007 p. 37–55).

1949–1962 – The introduction of psychology

Psychology was introduced as a subject in police education in 1949. It was argued that trainees should study psychology, because they had so much everyday contact with people and needed to know more about how people reacted in different situations. Psychology was introduced in connection with a minor reform of police education 1948–49. Table 2 shows the curriculum from 1949. Law, policework, physical training and training with weapons continued to be the biggest block of subjects. However, the body of theoretical subjects grew, and these topics were allotted relatively more space than in the 1938 curriculum. In addition to the introduction of psychology, teaching time for social studies was doubled from 1945 (SOU 1952:30 p. 18, 108–111).

A new commission of inquiry was appointed in 1948. One reason for the appointment of this commission, as well as for the minor reform of 1949 mentioned above, was the 1947 publication of another official report from a commission that studied the problems the police had in its contacts with the public. This report argued that police education should include more social studies and place more focus on helping people, that is, on the social role of the police (SOU 1947:45). There were several problems that the government wanted the commission on police education appointed in 1948 to analyse. One issue concerned the problems caused by the local organization of recruitment. The application of the rules about qualifications fluctuated, so the quality of the police trainees varied. Seldom were any checks made on whether trainees were suited for policework. In its 1952 report, the commission proposed that recruitment should be organized at the regional level, rather than at the local level. It was argued that such a change would make recruitment better and more stable (SOU 1952:30).

In the instructions to the 1948 commission, the government stressed that the starting point for recruitment and education must be that the police in a democratic society maintain good relations with the public and respect human rights. It was therefore important that those who were recruited had the right kind of “attitudes as citizens” and that they shared the values upon which society was based. Thus their education should foster knowledge about democratic society and “solidarity” with this democratic society among trainees. Making the claim of having a democratic police force seems to have been very important at this time. The background can be found in the role of the police in the Nazi ideology of the Second World War, with its political and authoritative police. Sweden was not occupied by Germany, but could not avoid the influence from Nazism (even within the police force) (SOU 1943:5).

Furthermore, the government pointed out that the police should recruit people “from different occupational and social groups”. The term “representative” focussed on class and social background and had a different meaning than today. Nothing was said about the need for female trainees, but the commission was assigned the task of investigating whether it was possible to have the same education for both men and women. The result was that from 1957 onward, women were accepted into the police force and police education on the same conditions as men (SOU 1952:30 p. 11–22, Dahlgren 2007 p. 37ff, 51ff, 85ff.).

According to the 1952 report, there was also a lack of general knowledge among trainees, especially with regard to Swedish society.

The knowledge about the structures of society among trainees is so inadequate, that they cannot fully understand an easy and elementary text about different institutions in society and about social measures

said one teacher interviewed by the commission (SOU 1952:30 p. 55). It was not only the lack of knowledge that caused problems, but also the attitudes and general experiences among trainees. Many of them lacked “good contact with society”, which resulted in the police force having a tendency to become isolated from society, thus risking problems in contacts with the public. The conclusion was reached that the police were organized too much as a system of control, and they should put more emphasis on their supportive role in order to improve relations with the public. It was therefore considered important that their education stress the social part of policework and give trainees a more “social attitude”.

Thus the commission wanted to raise the level of basic education necessary for entering the police school. The prerequisite was established consisting of one of the following diplomas: nine-year basic school diploma, the two-year folk high school diploma, or the diploma of a non-commissioned officer. The commission regarded it as an advantage if trainees had professional experience from different sectors. This should make it easier for trainees to establish good contacts with the public, because they had received “a better understanding of the living conditions for people from different social and professional groups”. However, a background from the armed forces was a disadvantage in this perspective. The commission argued that such people had “limited and isolated experiences from military barracks”, which were seen as negative and detrimental to promoting contacts between the police and the public. It was trainees with a background from the armed forces who most often showed a lack of knowledge about society. Little is known about what kind of people became police during the 1950s, but some of them were probably non-commissioned officers. During the 1940s, about 50 per cent of trainees had such a background (SOU 1952:30 p. 53–63, 74–78, 281).

An additional problem was that recruits started to work as police constables with only a short introduction with the local force before entering the Police Academy after one or two years. Thus the commission proposed that appointment to the police force should start with a compulsory ten-week introduction course at the police school, followed by five months in the field, after which the trainee would attend the existing 21-week basic course. This meant more hours of instruction in all subjects. The commission also discussed the possibility of connecting police education partly to existing education at university colleges for training social workers. The commission concluded that this was a good idea but unrealistic. Instruction at university colleges was too academic for the police trainees, who had not previously had enough formal education.

The aim with the proposed first ten-week introduction course was to prepare trainees for policework, but also to provide them with a “good civil fostering”. Social and political science and Swedish were seen as important for this kind of civil education. Thus the subject of public administration would become a larger part of the curriculum than before (see Table 2), and would be broadened to include more than administrative and legal structures. According to the report, instruction should be more about society in a broad sense.

In order to give trainees a better understanding of social problems, teaching social studies should receive more attention in the curriculum. The proposal was that this subject should contain studies about different social problems, the actions that society could take to deal with these problems, and the structures and processes in society that caused social problems. Psychology had already been introduced, and its continuation was recommended. A doubling of the hours for Swedish was considered necessary, since many trainees lacked sufficient language skills. The training in first aid continued, but the commission proposed additional studies in social medicine (e.g., alcoholism, mental illness, sex crimes), which would also mean a doubling in teaching time (SOU 1952:53 p. 80–86, 95f, 107–112).

The ideas and proposals from the commission, which delivered its official report in 1952, were ambitious in the attempt to educate a more social, representative and intellectual police corps. The proposed curriculum would have meant a considerable increase for the theoretical subjects, both in terms of classroom hours and their percentage of the curriculum (see Table 2). However, this ambitious proposal was never fully realized. A remodelling of the education programme in 1954 was the first outcome, but there were no radical changes from the existing curriculum put in place in 1949. The 1954 curriculum has not been found in the sources, but the basic education remained 21 weeks long. Social medicine was added, and the public administration course changed its name to “knowledge about society”, which implies some broadening of this subject (Svensk författningssamling 511, 26 maj 1954, Ambrosiani 2004 p.7).

In 1962, a new curriculum was launched. At this time there was also an increase in the demands for formal schooling as a prerequisite for entering the programme to become a member of the police corps. The organization of the educational programme was similar to the proposal from 1952, but a bit shorter. Police recruitment began with eight weeks at the Police Academy, followed by three to five months on the job and finally the 21-week course. In all, this meant almost 200 hours more in all subjects. Law, policework, physical training and training with weapons continued to dominate, and even increased their percentages of the curriculum slightly (see Table 2).

Although this new 1962 police education was prolonged and inspired by the ideas from the 1952 proposal, there was only a moderate increase in teaching time for the theoretical subjects in the new curriculum. This block was not given the part in the curriculum that the 1952 report had intended. The proposed increase in instruction in public administration and social studies was not carried out. Instruction in medicine did get more time, and the subject was broadened to include social medicine, as was proposed in 1952. Public administration was also broadened to include topics such as democracy, classes and groups in society, political thought and political parties, the school system and Sweden’s relationship with other countries (SOU 1965:53 p. 14–16, 59–63, 189–193).

The 1960s and 1970s – Nationalization and further changes

The police education that was introduced in 1962 did not last very long. The nationalization of the Swedish police in 1965 meant a thorough reorganization. Thus, the problems under consideration in the official 1965 report from a new commission were mainly about how to reorganize the recruitment and education into a police system that was no longer municipal but rather a state agency. The municipal organization caused problems, which meant that the education of police was not homogeneous.

The problem of a lack of general knowledge among trainees, the importance of recruiting trainees with the right democratic attitudes, and the need for civic education were not discussed as much as earlier. The need for police trainees with different professional experiences was also not analysed as it had been before. These kinds of issues did not seem to be a problem for the new commission. This new report concluded that relations between the police and the public had improved. Nevertheless, there was a need for trainees to learn about the role of the police in society, and to learn how the individual police constable could act to improve the reputation of the police organization. Special courses for female trainees were not considered needed, and there were no discussions about the need for more women (SOU 1965: 53 p. 35–46, 68f 176f). The report proposed prolonged police education with much more time in the classroom (about 400 hours more): first 39 weeks of theoretical studies, followed by two months of practical experience and finally a two-week course. This proposal also suggested changes in the curriculum (see Tables 1 and 2).

More hours were devoted to theoretical subjects in the proposed 1965 curriculum, and these topics comprised a relatively larger part of it. English was a new subject, and it was needed because more and more foreigners visited Sweden. This can be seen as another initiative to strengthen the social competence of trainees, e.g. their language skills. The commission also concluded that most trainees had weak skills in speaking and writing Swedish, so this subject received a little more time in the curriculum. Courses in social studies and public administration were also increased, but these two subjects were to be merged into one (political and social science). The course in medicine received more teaching hours and included social medicine. A doubling of the time allotted to psychology was proposed. It was important that trainees learned more about how different kinds of people reacted when contacted by the police. Instruction in psychology was also to include some basic psychiatry. The relative time spent on non-theoretical subjects decreased slightly in the 1965 proposal, but subjects such as police work and law dominated the curriculum (SOU 1965:53 p. 40–57).

The nationalization of the Swedish police in 1965 changed police education. A central national police agency was established, and it assumed responsibility for the police school and recruitment. In 1967 a new educational programme was introduced. It was similar to the proposal from 1965 in its external design but somewhat shorter: first there was a 32-week theoretical course, followed by eight weeks in the field and finally a three-week course. The content in terms of different subjects is unknown, since the 1967 curriculum has not been found in the sources. As early as 1973 there was a change, as yet another new curriculum was introduced. The basic course was completed in 40 weeks, followed by a two-year period of practical experience (Ambrosiani 2004 p. 3–7).

Table 2 shows the curriculum from 1974 (Stensöta 2004, p. 235). Policework, law and physical training continued to dominate the curriculum. While clearly inspired by the 1965 proposals, the block of theoretical subjects had been cut by comparison, both in the absolute number of hours taught and in relative terms. Thus in comparison with the ambitious proposal from 1965, no clear progress had been made in the development of a social, representative and intellectual police force in the education launched in 1973/74. However, if contrasted with the 1961 curriculum, there was more time for the theoretical subjects due to the education being longer.

The 1980s and 1990s – A prolonged education

Police education was prolonged again in 1985. It began with ten months in the classroom, followed by 18 months of practical experience and finally a five-month course. One innovation was that trainees had to spend some part of their practical training outside the police in order to gain broader experience from other parts of the public sector (Ambrosiani 2004 p. 4–7, 25, SOU 2008:39 p. 43f). This was one way of promoting a more socially conscious police, but this practice was later abolished.

It is quite difficult to compare the curriculum of 1985 with earlier curricula. The classification of the subjects and their content seem to have shifted, and the instruction became more thematic with integration between subjects. However, the theoretical subjects can be estimated to have comprised about 20 per cent of the 1985 curriculum, or roughly the same percentage as earlier. As regards content, more time seems to have been devoted to the behavioural and social sciences in 1985 and less to languages. The conclusion may be drawn that the new police education launched in 1985 did not imply any considerable increase in the theoretical subjects in relative terms, but, due to a prolongation of the programme by about 30 weeks, there was probably more teaching in absolute terms. The document that directed the design of the educational programme also emphasized knowledge about society and social problems; behaviour among different individuals and groups; democracy and human rights; and minorities and multicultural issues. Language ability and communication skills were also important, as was the capability to critically use information and to solve problems (Utbildningsplan, grundutbildning polismän 1985:11).

In 1998, the present-day police education was introduced. It stretches over two and a half years, with six months in the field. Thus, all studies last six months longer than in 1985. Due to increased integration of different teaching subjects, problem-based learning and a more thematic design, this curriculum is even more difficult to compare in detail with the earlier curricula. However, it can be estimated that subjects such as medicine and first aid; social and behavioural science; communication; conflict solution; problems with addiction; domestic violence; and juvenile delinquency amounted to at least 30 per cent of the curriculum for police education in Växjö in 2013. This is a considerable increase compared to 1985 and other earlier curricula (Kursplaner polisutbildningen Linnéuniversitetet, gällande för höstterminen 2013).

The documents that provide the framework for the present-day education emphasize the same kind of knowledge and skills as the 1985 education, but with even more emphasis on the scientific and scholarly aspects (Utbildningsplan för polisprogrammet, Polishögskolan 2013-12-17). This striving to achieve a social and intellectual police force is even more pronounced in the Police Academy’s information about the police education programme. Instruction in subjects such as social problems, discrimination and hate crimes, ethics, core values and good behaviour towards the public is emphasized (http://www. polishogskolan.se/Polisprogrammet/Utbildningens-innehall/ 2014-10-02).

Even before the 1985 reform, during the 1970s, there were ideas about making police education a part of the ordinary university system (SOU 1979:6, p.100, 277ff). This was also proposed in official reports from 1996, and then again in 2008 (DS 1996:11, SOU 2008:39). Police education in Sweden is still (2015) under the direct control of the police authorities and not formally a part of the university system. However, during the past ten years, this education has gradually been transferred from the Police Academy to the universities and the university colleges, where courses are offered that meet the guidelines and requirements established by the police authorities. This solution was the product of the liberal-conservative government, which did not want to make police education fully a part of the university system: thus this partial education within universities and university colleges. However, the Social Democrats, which formed a government after the election in September 2014, are in favour of police education that is fully a part of the university system. In march 2015, the government decided to appoint a new commission of inquiry to examine how the police education can be transformed into a university programme ending with a formal degree. (Dir 2015:19). Thus, there may be changes once again.

Summary and conclusions

Recruitment and education of the police have changed enormously in Sweden since the beginning of the 20th century. Centralization has increased so that recruitment and education have gradually become more uniform. The state took over the police school in 1925, long before the Swedish police was nationalized in 1965. Even though recruitment was a local affair until 1965, it gradually became more uniform and more centralized. The education has gradually been prolonged, from about 21 weeks during the 1920s and 1930s, to about 40 weeks (plus field work) during the 1970s, that is, a doubling. At the same time, teaching in subjects that here have been labelled as theoretical has increased three-fold in teaching time. But the relative increase has been more moderate, that is, the percentage of teaching time for theoretical subjects has not increased that much over time. Simultaneously, there has also been a rise in the demand for prerequisites, including previous school knowledge and diplomas from earlier education. There has also been further prolongation of the programme, first from 15 months in 1985 (plus practical training) to the present-day two-year education (plus practical training) in 1998.

During this time span, the official reports have discussed how to change recruitment and education in order to promote the development of a social, representative and intellectual police force. It has basically been the same kinds of discussions and ideas as those Hydén and Ljunberg (2009) have written about over the last ten to fifteen years. The aim has also been the same, that is, to change the values, the work and the role of the police. Thus, there is a long historical continuity behind the present day reform efforts and official views on the police that the police trainees are confronted with from the government, police authorities, the Police Academy, politicians and different experts. Research has shown that the current trainees and police who are working do not entirely share these views and ambitions. How trainees have regarded these questions during the 20th century and how they have reacted is, of course, hard to know, but it is clear that since the end of the 1930s trainees have been confronted with such ambitious reform attempts. These ambitions have not been limited to the recruitment of new groups and changes in the curriculum, but they have also aimed at fostering and moulding the values and personalities of trainees. This has partly been the manifestation of needs and requirements that have arisen, but also – as it is today – a way of legitimatizing the police.

How is this development to be explained? To what social, political and ideological contexts can the changes in recruitment and education of police trainees be attributed? The development of society, with technical changes, specialization, internationalization and democratization, has modified working life and working conditions for many occupational groups, including the police. It has been necessary and sometimes also natural to alter the recruitment and education of police trainees, when the surrounding society has developed and the working conditions for the police have changed.

A more specific process of great importance has been the development of the educational system. During the 20th century, and especially since World War Two, more people have received a longer formal education: during the early 20th century, compulsory schooling in Sweden was six years, but today almost every young person attends school for twelve years (including upper secondary school). Thus, current trainees have a much longer school education than people who became trainees one hundred years ago. The problem with lack of language skills and poor knowledge about society has changed, and it is easier to develop a more theoretical police education and to associate it with the universities when every trainee has a diploma from upper secondary school.

The prolongation and development of police education also reflect a general change in higher education. Several other occupations that originally had a short and mainly practical education now have extended programmes that have been incorporated into the university system. One example is the education of nurses that became a part of the university system in the 1970s. The education of commissioned military officers was lengthened in 2007 into a three-year university programme which resulted in a bachelor’s degree. These processes are partly a consequence of changes in working conditions and working life, but also of professionalization processes. The professional strategy and aims of several occupational groups have been to increase the length of their education, to make it more theoretical and to have it become a university programme that culminates in an academic degree. Ever since its foundation in 1903, the Swedish police union has worked for more and better education (Edeberg & Svärd 1963). For a number of years, the police union has been campaigning to turn police education into a university programme culminating in a formal degree.

Another process of great importance has been the emergence of the welfare state, of which the police became a part. When the ambitions and the resources of the welfare state to take care of its citizens increased, the role of the police changed. Since the 1940s, there have been recurrent ambitions and reforms to change the organization, the work and the role of the police and to place more emphasis on social tasks, with more service to and better contact with the general public (SOU 1947:45, SOU 1958.34, SOU 1979:6). This has, of course, had an effect on recruitment and education.

The welfare state is partly a product of the ambitions of the Swedish Social Democrats. During the decades after World War Two, the power of this party increased, and it became the biggest and most influential political party. The three commissions of inquiry that are most important for this article (SOU 1938:1, SOU 1952:30, SOU 1965:53) were all appointed by Social Democratic governments or governments with the Social Democratic Party in coalition with other parties. One Social Democratic politician who became important in this context was the teacher Bengt Folke Elmgren, a member of parliament (First Chamber 1941–66) and of the board of the police school (1948–63), but not a member of the government. He was responsible for the 1949 report that led to the introduction of psychology into police education. He was also the chairman of the subsequent commission that wrote the important 1952 official report with its ambitious proposals for a social, representative and intellectual police force (SOU 1952:30). He was the only politician in these committees. It was only in this 1952 committee that a politician was a leading member. However, as was shown earlier, direct political influence was limited, and the appointed commissions consisted mainly of experts from the Police Academy and other police authorities, as well as from the judicial system.

A part of the expansion of the welfare state was the emergence and development of the behavioural sciences. These subjects were seen as important, even outside the universities, and they became part of the efforts to create a better society with the help of science and social engineering. Sociology was established as a new and independent academic subject during the 1930s, and after World War Two it became increasingly popular and important. The term “sociological” usually meant “social”. It was seen as an important subject for the understanding and changing of society, and therefore its study was important for everyone who planned to work within the social field (Larsson 2001, p. 178–186, 194–196). As has been seen, the subject of social studies was introduced into the police curriculum in 1938. Psychology, which came onto the scene in police education in 1949, can be analysed in a similar way. The field was established in Sweden as an independent academic subject during the end of the 1940s. A rapid expansion of psychology followed at the universities, as did the profession in general. More and more psychologists or people trained in psychology began to work within the field of education, in the industrial sector and within the armed forces (Nilsson 1981).

Both sociology/social studies and psychology were seen as important in the official reports that have been used in this article, and these subjects grew more important in the curriculum. These subjects stand out as essential in striving to develop a more social police force with knowledge about and understanding of both society and humanity. This development was not only due to the needs and ambitions of the police, but it was also due to the increased importance of these subjects at the universities and in society.

The interest in the core values of the police can also be connected to trends in society. After World War Two, it was important to strengthen democracy in many ways. The attempt to create a more democratic police force during the late 1940s and the 1950s was just one of several manifestations of this ideal. Another example is development within the school system. To strengthen democratic values was seen as an important goal for schools, when the system was thoroughly investigated and analysed by an official committee after the war. Democracy is still an important task for schools and for other authorities in Sweden, but the emphasis on equality between women and men is also very important today. Attitudes towards women and their participation in working life changed fundamentally in Swedish society during the mid- and late 20th century. Thus, there have also been increasing demands for the police to recruit women and to work on attitudes towards female trainees and female constables.

However, none of the three most important official reports presented here (SOU 1938:1, SOU 1952:30, SOU 1965:53) wrote about the need for more women within the police force. Instead, ideas about the police force’s representativeness were directed towards recruiting male trainees from different social and occupational groups, instead of non-commissioned officers that had dominated the police force earlier. The discussion about the need for female trainees started during the 1970s. Formally women and men received equal opportunities within in the police in 1971, that is, the same right to all kinds of work and positions. In its instructions to the next committee of inquiry, appointed in 1975, the government clearly expressed the need for more women within the police force (SOU 1979:6). This statement mirrored the spirit in society during the 1970s with its first wave of striving for equality, but it also reflects the formal rules against discrimination in general, and the endeavour to break down the traditional division of different tasks and positions among men and women in working life (SOU 1979:6, p. 264f). A later trend in Swedish society, seen mainly from the 1990s, was the focus on the situation for immigrants and on the discrimination against homosexuals. As a consequence, during the last couple of decades the recruitment of people with non-Swedish backgrounds has been emphasized, as well as counteracting discriminatory attitudes against homosexuals and immigrants within the police.

An important question is then if the efforts to create a social, representative and intellectual police force are part of a development that is specific to Sweden? Of course, there might be specific circumstances in Sweden, such as the welfare state and the strong position of the Social Democrats. But other countries have also developed welfare states. The changes in working life and the professionalization of different occupations are processes that have also influenced the police in other countries. Nor is the establishment and development of sociology and psychology something that occurred only in Sweden; it was a trend that started in the US. The few examples that I have found from other countries indicate a similar development as in Sweden; police education has been extended in several countries. The same is true of the emphasis on the need for representative police, equality, positive attitudes towards minorities, service and help to the public, and a systematic and reflective attitude in policework. Thus, it is reasonable to assume a similar underlying historical development in other countries.

The lack of research about recruitment and education of police trainees in most other countries makes it difficult to compare the development in Sweden. It is important with more research on this topic, preferably in a comparative perspective. We know very little about how recruitment and education has changed during the 20th century, especially during its later half. Considering that the research in police history otherwise is fairly extensive in countries like Great Britain, France and Germany, this gap is notable. For Sweden, it would be interesting to have research about how the official reports and their ideas were received, and if there were alternative views. There were probably different opinions, as there are today. One indication that this was true is the fact that the ambitious proposals concerning the theoretical subjects in the curriculum from the 1952 and 1965 reports were not fully carried out. The subsequent reforms and changes in the education and curriculum became slightly less radical in this regard.

This article shows how research about recruitment and education of police trainees can contribute to the understanding of important aspects of the general field of police history. Even at the beginning of the 20th century it was important to recruit the right kind of people and to give them adequate training and education. Recruitment and education have changed significantly ever since, which tells us a lot about the development of the police in general. The reforms in recruitment and education show primarily what the state, the police authorities, the judicial system and experts wanted to achieve with the police. They also illustrate how policework, the role of the police and its relationship with the public have changed.

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Dir 2015:19. Kommittédirektiv. En förändrad polisutbildning.

SOU 2008:39 Framtidens polisutbildning.

DS 1996:11 Rekrytering och grundutbildning av poliser.

SOU 1979:6 Polisen.

SOU 1965:53 Polisutbildningen.

SOU 1958:34 Socialpolis och kvinnlig polis.

SOU 1952:30 Rekrytering och utbildning av polispersonal.

SOU 1947:45 Polisen och allmänheten.

SOU 1943:5 Utredning angående polismänns anslutning till politiska ytterlighetsritkningar.

SOU 1938:1 Betänkande angående omorganisationen av polisskolan i Stockholm.

SOU 1922: 49 Utredning angående omorganisation av polisväsendet i riket.

Svensk författningssamling 511, 26 maj 1954. Kungl. Maj:ts stadga för statens polisskola.

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Utbildningsplan för polisprogrammet, Polishögskolan 2013-12-17.

1I wish to express my thanks for suggestions on books and articles or points of views to: Henrik Björk, Bettina Blum, Quentin Deluermoz, Clive Emsley, Cyrille Fijnaut, Anja Johansen, Anna Larsson, Heléne Lööw, Anders Pederssen, Klaus Weinhauer and Chris Williams. I am grateful for the financial assistance received from Stiftelsen Lars Hiertas Minne, Birgit och Gad Rausings Stiftelse för Humanistisk Forskning and Åke Wibergs Stiftelse.

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