Watching out for the watchers

Date19 September 2016
Published date19 September 2016
AuthorAnna Corbo Crehan,Michael Absalom
Subject MatterHealth & social care,Criminology & forensic psychology
Watching out for the watchers
Anna Corbo Crehan and Michael Absalom
Anna Corbo Crehan is a
Lecturer at Australian Graduate
School of Policing and Security,
Charles Sturt University,
Kingston, Australia.
Michael Absalom is a Senior
Constable and Operational
Safety Instructor in the
NSW Police Force,
Goulburn, Australia.
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to enhance the understanding of the situational vulnerabilities faced
by police qua police, with a view to identifying the best ways of addressing those vulnerabilities.
Design/methodology/approach The theoretical vocabulary for analysing vulnerabilitydeveloped by
Mackenzie et al. (2014) provides the framework for most of the discussion. Discussions of self-care as
developed for other professions have informed the discussion on self-care for police officers.
Findings The paper draws two key conclusions: that a fuller understanding of police officersvulnerability
qua police needs to extend to a consideration of officersoff-duty time, and that police officers need to be
better apprised of the situational vulnerabilities they will face qua police officers so that subjective experiences
of those vulnerabilities are not unnecessarily traumatic. Finally the paper identifies the need for the
professional obligation to engage in efficacious self-care practices to be applied to police officers to ensure
responsibility for their situational vulnerabilities is fairly distributed between themselvesand their organisation.
Practical implications The insights identified in the paper have implications for better addressing the
ways in which police officers cope, and are assisted to cope, with the distressing and disturbing aspects
of their work.
Originality/value A clear need for better understanding of, and responses to, the vulnerabilities to which
police work gives rise is required, given current rates of suicide, and mental and psychological injury amongst
police officers.
Keywords Vulnerability, Professionalism, Police officers, Off-duty police, Police organizations, Self-care
Paper type Conceptual paper
In this paper, we identify some keyvulnerabilities that police face qua police officers. The work of
Mackenzie et al. (2014) will provide the framework for much of the discussion, particularly its
precise theoretical vocabulary for analysing vulnerability, a vocabulary that helps identify and
clarify the different duties involved in responding appropriately to different kinds of vulnerability
(2014, p. 8). Specifically, the paperhas three aims, all related to the vulnerabilities of policeofficers
within their professional context. First, it will articulate the situational vulnerability of police officers
qua police officers(i.e. in their capacityas police officers), and demonstratethat the context of their
work needsto be understood as extendingbeyond their immediateworking environment. Second,
it will identify some important issues concerning relevant interventions for both occurrent and
situationalvulnerabilities faced by policeofficers. The paper will then concludewith a discussion of
the obligation that police, like other professionals, have to engage in self-care. While the paper
largely draws on the Australian policing context, we believe its arguments and conclusions are
applicable to policing in liberal democratic countries more broadly.
Vulnerability in general
Vulnerability refers to a susceptibility to harm or injury or some other negative event. As Scully
(2014) notes, Vulnerability is always about the odds of experiencing bad things: we dont talk
Received 27 August 2015
Revised 11 February 2016
Accepted 11 April 2016
VOL. 2 NO. 3 2016, pp.164-172, © Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 2056-3841 DOI 10.1108/JCRPP-08-2015-0038

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT