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Title: Policing human rights : law, politics and practice in Northern Ireland
Author: Martin, Richard James
ISNI:       0000 0004 7430 5077
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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Human rights are a defining feature of how the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has been 'imagined and made' in its post-conflict society. This thesis marks the first attempt to make sense of how human rights are articulated, interpreted and applied by those intimately involved in Northern Irish policing. Based on extensive access to the PSNI, I marshal qualitative data collected from interviews with over one hundred police officers from various departments. I tour four sites of local policing to expose and examine the vernaculars and practices of human rights that lurk within each. The story I tell over the course of eight chapters is one of a police service trying to sustain human rights as a central narrative to explain its daily work and build its organisational identity in a divided society, to varying degrees of success. I argue that human rights are, in fact, a malleable, contested and conditional concept to 'imagine and make' a police service and regulate the decision-making of its officers; perhaps much more so than police reformers in Northern Ireland had realised or the PSNI wish to acknowledge. In the first half of the thesis, I identify and deconstruct how the PSNI's chief officers and local political parties seek to express and mobilise competing visions, values and agendas through human rights narratives. I then pay close attention to how human rights are interpreted and translated by junior officers performing two forms of routine policing in N.Ireland: the 'dirty work' of the Tactical Support Group and the 'community work' of Neighbourhood Policing Teams. I ask to what extent officers have internalised human rights as way of making sense of their daily work. In the second half of the thesis, I explore police officers as an important, but poorly understood, class of human rights practitioner. To better grasp how officers interpret and apply human rights standards, I closely analyse two sites of policing where distinct schemes of human rights-based regulation exist: public order policing and police custody. This thesis contributes to understandings of the concept of human rights, its interactions with law and politics and the condition of policing in contemporary Northern Ireland.
Supervisor: Loader, Ian ; Bradford, Ben ; McEvoy, Kieran Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Transitional Justice ; Human Rights ; Northern Ireland ; Policing