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The Wrong Side of the Frontline: Exploring the Utilisation of Civilian Investigators by Police Forces across England and Wales

Rice, Lindsey (2016) The Wrong Side of the Frontline: Exploring the Utilisation of Civilian Investigators by Police Forces across England and Wales. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

Text (PhD thesis)
Lindsey Rice - PhD Thesis.pdf
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The key aim of this thesis is to examine the roles being undertaken by non-warranted civilian investigators (CIs) in relation to those of warranted police detectives (DCs) working within police forces across England and Wales (E&W). Formally introduced by the Police Reform Act 2002, CIs are non-warranted members of police staff charged with assisting warranted officers with their investigative enquiries. Specifically, the research examines the extent to which CIs can be considered in terms of being a ‘junior partner’ or a ‘paraprofessional’ role to that of their warranted detective counterparts. The study employed a mixed methods research design and drew upon data collected via a series of semi-structured interviews with police officers and police staff, observation and a semi-structured survey which was sent to all of the 43 police constabularies across E&W. Findings point to the widespread yet inconsistent uptake of the CI provision by police forces across the country. Overall, CIs were found to be contributing to the investigation of most crime types including the most serious in some instances (e.g. murder, rape and domestic abuse). However, the research also draws attention to a high level of disparity in the utilisation of CIs between forces. The research found that in some units CIs have become increasingly utilised in tasks outside of their intended ‘supportive’ remit and, in some cases, are in fact being afforded a role which is almost identical to that of warranted police detectives. Despite the evolving nature of their role and evidence of continued ‘mission creep’, findings suggested that CIs continue to enjoy a secondary and in some respects outsider status within the police organisation, enjoying only marginal valuing and limited integration. These conditions are currently being sustained by the ‘civilian’ designation of CIs alongside powerful actors in the field of policing and politics and the weakness or absence of any alternative (or convincing) narrative on how effective investigation might be achieved. This research provides a much-needed insight into the impact of recent civilianising trends on ‘core’ areas of police service provision. It also contributes to a growing body of information on the increasing significance of the role now being played by private security in public policing and more specifically, to the blurring of occupational and sectoral boundaries with regard to the provision of ‘professional’ criminal investigation in E&W. The thesis concludes by arguing that the utilisation of CIs may be instigating a renegotiation of the boundaries surrounding the role of the warranted police detective and in turn, the dilution of professional orthodoxies in the investigative specialism. The uncertain future trajectory of the CI role may, in coming years, encourage disputes over the title and role of the ‘detective’, as recognition of the proficiency of CIs continues to call into question the legitimacy of the warranted detective’s claim to professional jurisdiction in respect of contemporary criminal investigation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > School of Law (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.690165
Depositing User: Miss Lindsey Rice
Date Deposited: 03 Aug 2016 11:25
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2016 13:16
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/13721

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