Researching Challenging Issues: the case of policing diversity

Karen Bullock, Jon Garland, Michael Rowe

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


In recent years several events have damaged policing legitimacy in the eyes of the public in England and Wales, including the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard by a police officer serving in the Metropolitan Police Service in 2021 and the series of damning reports from investigations into police occupational cultures and working practices that followed. In addition, it is now nearly 25 years since the publication of the Macpherson Report into the police investigation of the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence which was supposed to be a watershed in the policing of diversity. It therefore seems prescient to turn attention to matters related to researching the policing of diversity once more. However, this is a particularly challenging area of police work to research. This chapter introduces readers to some key themes, considerations, and difficulties of conducting fieldwork in this area of policing. It begins with considering conceptual issues and problems and then examines the task of generating data that represents the values, attitudes, and behaviour of police staff about how they understand and implement diversity policing. Including examples from research conducted over 25 years by the authors, the chapter examines issues such as gaining access to, and trust of, police services, as well as the researcher’s presentation of the self once in the field. The chapter also assesses issues relating to making the best use of official statistics and other data when researching policing diversity. It suggests that while researching the policing of diversity can be very challenging it can ultimately be rewarding to shine a light on this important area of contemporary policing.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIntroduction to Policing Research
Subtitle of host publicationTaking Lessons from Practice
EditorsDenise Martin, Stephen Tong
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781003276456
ISBN (Print)9781032232522, 9781032232515
Publication statusPublished - 5 Dec 2023

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