The Project Group on a European Approach to Police Science Publish Final Report

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10 March 2008

In 2004 an initiative was taken to establish a Project Group on a European Approach to Police Science. The aim of the Project Group was to obtain a common understanding of Police Science and Research. The project group was asked to find answers to the following questions:

  • Is there a common European understanding of police, policing, police philosophy and the role of police in the society? If yes, how can it be defined? If no, are there still some common elements?
  • Is there a common understanding and definition of police science? How can the interplay between police science and police related research be described?
  • Can common key questions be identified? Are those which cannot be "solved" immediately essential for policing and must they be discussed on a continuous basis?
  • Is there a European way of assembling contributions from policing, law and social sciences?
  • Is there a way for better integration of police science and police practice? Or does it make no longer sense to distinguish between theory and practice? Should we rather speak of solving practical problems on the management level in a theoretical and scientific way?
  • How can European police science results be integrated into training courses and education for Senior Police Officers?
  • How can the interplay - in the past and in the future - be described between police training and the academic world?
  • What does "professionalism" in the field of police management (knowledge, skills, ethics and methods) mean?
  • Which common main research areas can be identified from a comparative point of view?
  • What will be the principle values, methodologies and standards of European police science in the future?

Six police experts from different backgrounds (law, social anthropology, psychology, political science, sociology and criminology) made-up the project group:

- Hans-Gerd Jaschke (Germany)

- Francisco del Barrio Romero (Spain)

- Tore Bjørgo (Norway)

- Cees Kwanten (Netherlands)

- Rob Mawby (United Kingdom)

- Milan Pagon (Slovenia)

The experts come from different countries nominated by the national Police Academies of EU Member States and selected by CEPOL.

The Final Report

The study is divided into six chapters in order to try and give answers to the previous set of questions aforementioned:

Chapter 1: History of Police Science

Chapter 2: Core Topics and Discourses of Police Science

Chapter 3: Police Science - A Philosophy of Science Approach

Chapter 4: From Police Science to the Science of Policing

Chapter 5: Police Science, Police Education and Police Training

Chapter 6: A European Approach to Police Science

Apart from these chapters, the report includes a preface, an introduction, references, and index of key terms and a brief description of the authors.

The opening chapter draws the historical lines of Police and Police studies. It is a relation full of tensions; of common approaches on the one hand and mistrust and rejection on the other. Police Science as a process cannot be understood without consideration of police and science in recent decades. When discussing this issue we had to note, that Police Science cannot be an invention that has to be decided by whomever. It is involved in patterns of interests on both sides: the one of the police and the one of the academics.

The next points of interest were the objectives of Police Science. A discipline consists of key questions, research interests, methods and objectives. The chapter on the core issues gives a picture of these objectives, and it makes clear that there are many overlaps with other disciplines like criminology. However, this is not a specific feature, because most academic disciplines have a lot of such overlaps. When we talk about Police Science as an 'applied science', we can see that applying means not only to take over methods from other disciplines, but covering topics from several disciplines related to policing.

After a first agreement about the objectives of Police Science, the relationships to other sciences and disciplines had to be clarified. We identified different types of knowledge within policing like experience-based knowledge and police science-driven knowledge. These discussions came up again and again: What is science; what is a discipline; how can relationships and overlaps be described? There was a danger to go to deep into the field of theories of science, science history and methodological questions. Ultimately we found a more pragmatic understanding of Police Science.

During the discussions we recognised, that modern policing is more than what police do. In modern societies many policing-related tasks of controlling crime and disorder are done by the community, by private organisations and cross-institutional networks. So, how can we deal with Police Science or: what about the science of policing? Indeed, there are many arguments for an expansion of Police Science to a Science of Policing in the future. Police Science in the future should be established as a discipline in the context of other academic disciplines. But it must not be forgotten that Police Science is connected to police education and training.

The next chapter deals with the following question: What is the contribution of Police Science to police training and education? Some of us distinguish between police training at Police Academies and police education at universities and ask for the tensions between both and the impact and the role of Police Science.

Finally, due to the international approach, we had to consider the European perspective. Of course, all academic disciplines are international and do not have national borders and limitations, but in spite of this we had to face different developments in the EU countries. This was a background for asking for a European perspective, for common interests and values, and for different ones. With regard to this, a comparative point of view is needed and can be an important foundation of a modern Police Science.

Recommendations for the Future

The recommendations of the final report can be divided into two categories, general recommendations and specific recommendations.

General Recommendations:

  • To promote a continuous discussion within Police Science in Europe on the following general topics in order to ensure best research and knowledge: the main tendencies in the development of societies, crime and policing, mission of the police, purpose of policing, European ways of problem-solutions, differences, commonalities and obstacles.

Specific Recommendations:

  • To disseminate research-based knowledge in training context;
  • To involve and support CEPOL's working Groups and sub-groups in context proposals concerning the structure and direction of further discussions and the further development of a European approach to police science;
  • To develop a European Police Science and Research Journal;
  • To carry out empirical studies which can be useful in CEPOL training context;
  • To promote the integration of police science and research outcomes in CEPOL courses and in national training programmes;
  • Initiatives for new activities in order to solve open questions.

Download the full report here.

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