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Title: Work related trauma, culture and the police : towards an effective trauma management scheme
Author: MacFie, Christine.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3615 1714
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 2003
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This action research based thesis focuses on work-related psychological trauma and its management, within the context of the British police service. A case study on one force facilitates detailed exploration of ways in which police occupational culture may impede the provision and acceptance of trauma management schemes. A national questionnaire-based survey of United Kingdom police forces establishes the scope and nature of their trauma management provisions and identifies strengths and weaknesses. Few trauma research studies have concentrated upon the affective domain of the British police service and there is limited understanding of how personal emotions are managed in the police organisation, or how its culture can affect the individual's experience of work-related trauma in an unhelpful way. The study aims to increase knowledge and understanding in this area and to assist British police forces in their attempts to reduce police sickness absences and ill health retirements, which may result from exposure to workrelated trauma. Two main study concerns are addressed by different means. The thesis is arranged as an introduction that includes discussion of the methodological approach adopted, seven chapters, conclusions and recommendations. Chapter one sets the scene by scrutinising the police service as a modern work organisation. Having clarified the basic principles of British policing, it outlines how the service has developed, exploring the difficulties and tensions police officers at all levels experience in trying to fulfil their current roles and responsibilities. Chapter two looks at the nature and potential effects of 'critical' incidents and traces the history of trauma recognition and critical incident debriefing, discussing the current debate on the efficacy of the latter and its value for police personnel. Chapter three examines current national and local police trauma management provisions and chapter four focuses on the identification and management of key risks posed to the police organisation, arising from work-related trauma. Chapter five explores police officers' experiences of trauma through descriptions of three 'service' roles and critical incident scenarios and by focusing on how certain aspects of police culture may intensify and prolong their initial distress. Chapter six shows the ways in which the police organisation seeks to manage its members' emotions through its selection, training and socialisation processes and how its success in doing so can impede the delivery and takeup of trauma management services. Chapter seven then outlines the main theoretical concepts underpinning the thesis, explaining why the police organisation requires officers to manage their emotions in particular ways and outlining mechanisms it has adopted as corporate defences against anxiety. A summary of conclusions follows and the thesis ends with recommendations to effect improvements to the quality and consistency of services being offered.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Psychological trauma