Academic team: Professor Jean Hartley, Richard Harding
Policing partners: Thames Valley Police
When the Local Policing Area (LPA) Commander from Milton Keynes in Thames Valley Police wanted to understand the culture of their workforce so that they could better understand its strengths and weaknesses and how it could best be used to deliver their policing mission they approached the Centre for Policing Research and Learning (CPRL) for help. In the criminological literature police culture is often portrayed as negative, but we agreed that we wanted to understand the culture of Milton Keynes police through a different and more appreciative lens. To do this we agreed to use two approaches to understanding organisational culture:
Working with our colleagues from Milton Keynes police we set up a joint research team to undertake the research; using the CPRLs academic knowledge and experience we provided our policing co-researchers with the knowledge, skills and support to become practitioner-researchers to undertake their own research in their own organisational setting. This innovative collaborative approach meant that we could undertake our research and access and interpret our findings through academic as well as experiential lenses, allowing us to gather a rich picture of the culture in Milton Keynes Police.
Our joint research team was able to co-produce an answer to the real world policing question posed by the LPA Commander, one that described the culture of their command in a way that allowed them to make better informed decisions and judgements. As importantly however, our police practitioner co-researchers were equipped with new skills, knowledge and perspectives and through co-producing the research outcomes with new understandings of their organsiation and their place in it that provides a legacy of personal and organisational capability in Thames Valley Police beyond the end of the project.