Posts By / rheslop

Are UK universities more ethical than police organisations?

Last week saw BU Lecturer in Criminology and former British police sergeant: Dr Richard Heslop, delivering an invited paper at the Fourth Annual Canterbury Centre for Policing Research Conference.

The conference was held at Canterbury Christchurch University, UK, between 19 – 20 June; on the theme of: ‘Austerity and Ethics: A Paradox for Professionalism’.

A sub-theme of this year’s conference was the forthcoming significant developments in police education in England and Wales, under the Police Education Qualifications Framework (PEQF).[1] The PEQF has been developed to professionalise the public police and to reform perceived problematic aspects of police culture and improve ethical standards. The PEQF provides UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) with a key role in police education. From January 2020, all new police recruits will be required to obtain a degree level qualification before joining the police or in the initial years of service.

In his paper entitled:  ‘Are UK universities more ethical than police organisations?’ Dr Heslop compared police organisations and HEIs from the perspective of their ethical behaviours and practices. After discussing historical and contemporary ethical problems in policing, Dr Heslop explored how, in recent years, universities, academics and students have also faced scrutiny and censure in relation to a range of unethical behaviours and practices. These include:

  • Racism on campuses
  • The ‘scandal’ over the pay and ‘perks’ of senior university staff
  • Sexual misconduct by academics and students
  • ‘Lad-cultures’ on campuses
  • Bullying and harassment of university staff
  • ‘Mis-selling’ of degree courses
  • Lack of transparency in some HE institutions.

Dr Heslop concluded that universities are no more ethical than the police and his paper contributes to a body of literature which cautions against assumptions that involving HEIs in police education will lead to improvements in the practices of the police [2].

Dr Heslop is seeking critical feedback on this paper and will be pleased to supply a copy to colleagues with the inclination and time to review it.

 

 

[1] Police Education Qualifications Framework available at: https://www.college.police.uk/What-we-do/Learning/Policing-Education-Qualifications-Framework/Pages/Policing-Education-Qualifications-Framework.aspx

[2] See, for example: Heslop, R (2011). Reproducing police culture in a British university: an exploratory study of police foundation degrees.  Police Practice & Research: An International Journal, 12(4), 293-312.