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A study into the professionalisation of policing by examining the link between the epistemic authority and self-legitimacy of frontline police constables

This study will explore if there is a link between making policing a graduate profession and an improvement in an officer’s sense of self-legitimacy.

Key details

Lead institution
Principal researcher(s)
Richard Honess
Police region
South East
Level of research
Project start date
Date due for completion

Research context

Many police reforms fall under the rubric of police professionalisation and one of the major reforms that is taking place is through the College of Policing’s Policing Education Qualifications Framework (PEQF).

A consequence of the PEQF is that being a police officer is to become a graduate profession, either by completing a university degree before joining or completing a degree apprenticeship during the probationary period. This plan is to better embed professional knowledge within police practice and as an upshot develop a police officer’s Epistemic Authority (EA), that is, the authority granted upon someone due to the strength of what they know.

One of the potential positive outcomes is that this may also improve an officer’s sense of self-legitimacy, that is, it will improve the confidence an officer has in the practice of the authority invested in him or her.

There is currently no literature seeking to link the two concepts, therefore a study to examine if there is a relationship between an officer’s EA and self-legitimacy would be an original contribution to knowledge.

Research methodology

  • Explanatory model, mixed methods design.
  • Staff survey intending to measure potential relationship between Epistemic Authority and Self-Legitimacy amongst Police Constables on Emergency Response Teams using statistical analysis of results.
  • Followed up by semi-structured interviews to examine causal relation (or lack thereof), and plans to develop EA through professional development.
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