In this paper, I describe widely used methods in Scandinavian police research, discuss strengths and weaknesses and suggest methods for future police research. Thick, in-depth descriptions and closeness to the field are strengths in today’s police research, whereas vulnerability to the Hawthorne effect, the lack of representativeness and limited possibilities for causal claims are weaknesses. I suggest new methods for improving police research: natural variation designs, vignette studies and field experiments. In addition, extended use of an existing data source, register data, is discussed. Examples are given from police research and connected research fields, including research on other professions. Greater methodological variation can address new questions in future police research and widen the horizons of Scandinavian police research. Especially, new methods and data can improve the possibilities for making causal claim and improve the external validity.
Few would contest the value of academic freedom, i.e. the principle that researchers are free to ask critical questions and publish their findings without interference from the authorities. In practice, difficult questions may arise concerning both what questions should be asked and how they are answered. In this article, I take as my point of departure the Norwegian legislation, with some examples from other countries. The question of the researchers’ part in discussing heated questions and party politics is addressed. The article underlines the value of academic freedom as a guideline for the way researchers should deal with disagreement between each other: We should welcome disagreement and accept that, on any issue, the final word has not yet been said. An important topic is whether the rules of confidentiality for researchers should be clarified. Such a clarification could strengthen the researchers’ freedom to work with informants who are especially concerned about the risk of their identity being revealed.
Research on the police force has typically been occupied with seeking out commonalities between police officers rather than differences. This has amounted to a vast volume of literature on the shared occupational culture of police officers that has pointed to several problematic aspects of policing. However, in this paper, I argue for the value of studying individual police officers who are doing things differently from their colleagues as a method for actually engaging with these problematic aspects. To demonstrate the viability of this methodological approach to police research, I draw on an encounter with a particular police officer from my own empirical work. I argue that conducting case studies of such police officers and describing their practices and attitudes can be a valuable contribution to the development of better and more socially just policing. These case studies of how things can be done differently can aid in imagining new and better police practices.
Place-based policing has attracted a substantial amount of attention, not least in relation to hot spot policing. Such policing efforts depend on geographical analysis of where crime takes place. However, while it is well known that police crime data suffer from many limitations, less is known about the extent to which the geographical reliability of these data constitutes a problem. The present study attempts to quantify the extent of this problem by exploiting the fact that in Sweden there is an alternative, and more reliable, source of geographical data for incidents of arson. The study compares the locations for car arson incidents as recorded by the police and the rescue services, respectively. The resulting quantification of differences shows that the median error for the police data is 83 meters. This presents a potential pitfall for geographical analysis, both for researchers using police data and for the police themselves in their operational and strategic analysis of crime.
2-2018, vol 5
Nordisk politiforskning har som mål å presentere ny kunnskap og forskning innen politiforskning, politivitenskap og polisiær virksomhet (policing) i de nordiske landene.
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Tidsskriftet publiserer artikler på norsk, dansk, svensk og engelsk.
Brita Bjørkelo, professor ved Politihøgskolen i Norge
Mehdi Ghazinour, professor ved Umeå Universitet i Sverige
Rolf Granér, tidligere lektor ved Linnéuniversitetet i Sverige
Lars Holmberg, lektor ved Københavns Universitet i Danmark
Helene Oppen Ingebrigtsen Gundhus, professor ved Universitetet i Oslo
Eileen S. Berglie
Sats: Laboremus Sandefjord ASOmslagsdesign: Kord ASISSN online: 1894-8693DOI: 10.18261/issn.1894-8693Tidsskriftet eies av Politihøgskolen, og støttes økonomisk av polisutdanningene ved Linnéuniversitetet Växjö og Umeå universitet, Centrum för polisforskning, Uppsala universitet i Sverige og danske politimyndigheter. Tidsskriftet utgis i samarbeid med Universitetsforlaget.© Universitetsforlaget 2018 / Scandinavian University Press