Embeddedness within Police recruitment: how social networks and relationships influence the hiring of new police recruits

PhD Thesis

Stubbs, G. 2022. Embeddedness within Police recruitment: how social networks and relationships influence the hiring of new police recruits. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University School of Law,Policing and Social Sciences
AuthorsStubbs, G.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameDoctor of Philosophy

Studies of police diversity in England and Wales have focused upon both the proportion of Police Officers from under-represented groups when compared with the community that they serve, and the cultural behaviours highlighted in critical inquiries such as the Macpherson and Scarman Reports. There has been no ‘step change’ in the recruitment of diverse police officers in the UK over the last decade, although Home Office figures illustrate a steady growth of under-represented candidates across the wider police workforce. These two main areas of diversity based research fail to examine the underlying social interactions, and the value and function of social networks, that underpin the process of police recruitment.

Utilising the theory of embeddedness proposed by Granovetter, this thesis provides a thematic analysis of new police officer’s perspectives on the police recruitment process. This theory posits that processes usually discussed within the economic frame of reference are enmeshed with mundane social interaction and supported through agency and structures inherent within established social networks. Based on 26 semi-structured, in-depth interviews of recruits in a mixed rural and urban police force, this thesis presents a framework of ideas to inform on the concept of embeddedness within police recruitment.

The analysis illustrates significant levels of embeddedness between existing social relationships and the police recruitment process within the researched constabulary. The interviews illustrate that existing police based social relationships facilitate an exchange of information between serving officers and candidates. These interactions are both instructional and pastoral. The analysis also demonstrates that pastoral family and partner based support was seen to be more important to candidates than instructional support with regards to the recruitment process. Finally, the nature of the information passed through social ties, is different to that passed through positive action initiatives. In order to improve diversity in policing, these findings suggest constabulary’s recruitment processes need to prioritise pastoral support and building community relations over providing instructional support through existing positive action initiatives.

KeywordsPolice recruitment; Social networks; Relationships; Hiring; New police recruits
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Deposited15 Nov 2022
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