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Scottish Institute for Policing Research PhD Studentship 2008

Applications are invited for a PhD studentship in Policing and Democracy in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The aim of this studentship is to map existing mechanisms for democratic accountability of public policing bodies in Northern Ireland and Scotland as a basis for comparison of the ways in which the two jurisdictions provide opportunities for public participation in the setting of police priorities. 

Funded by the Scottish Institution for Policing Research (SIPR) and the University of Edinburgh, the research will ask: to what extent and in what ways do the current structures and institutions of public police forces in Northern Ireland and Scotland provide for ‘democratic’ policing?

All applicants should have, or expect to gain no later than August 2008:

  • an upper second or first class honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant social science discipline;

and EITHER

  • a postgraduate degree in a relevant social science discipline with a significant proportion of research skills courses

OR

  • relevant research experience.  Exceptionally, candidates with a very strong honours degree incorporating a significant proportion of research skills courses may be considered in absence of postgraduate qualifications or research.  The studentship covers home/EU fees and a stipend of £10,000 for a three year period. 

Background

The last ten years have seen significant changes in structures of government and police institutions in the UK: devolution in Scotland and Wales and the revival of the Northern Ireland Assembly have seen power shift downwards from central UK government, while increased intergovernmental cooperation on justice and home affairs has been facilitated by the EU (as examined, for example, by den Boer 2002; and Loader 2002).  Policing in Northern Ireland has gone through significant changes in the wake of the Patten Commission, including the establishment of a Police Ombudsman, and in England and Wales a new Independent Police Complaints Commission has been established.  As such, the time would seem to be ripe to revisit the work of Jones, Newburn and Smith (1994) on democratic accountability of policing bodies, and to develop from this starting point to compare between the different police jurisdictions in the United Kingdom, particularly to investigate areas of convergence and divergence in the new political contexts of devolution, frameworks for UK wide cooperation and coordination, and international cooperation.

Aims and objectives

The project aims to map out existing mechanisms for democratic accountability of public policing bodies in Northern Ireland and Scotland.  This mapping exercise will be used as a basis to compare the different ways in which the two police jurisdictions provide opportunities for public participation in, and oversight of, the setting of police priorities and objectives; the extent to which the public can participate as informed actors in priority setting; and other aspects of democratic policing such as opportunities for redress in cases of perceived injustice.  The research can be summed up in one primary question:

To what extent and in what ways do the current structures and institutions of public police forces in Northern Ireland and Scotland provide for ‘democratic’ policing?

Methods

The mapping exercise will focus primarily on three areas of the interface between the police and the public (or their representatives):

  • complaints handling procedures, relating to Jones et al’s dimension of redress;
  • structures of governance and the sharing of power between central (UK), devolved and local government, Chief Constables, police authorities, and other forum for public involvement, linked to dimensions of distribution of power and participation;finally by exploring what is publicly available in terms of information about police activities and funding it will be possible to explore the foundations of deliberative forms of democracy. 

Much of the basic work for this can be done using public documentation, legislation and policy papers.  Nonetheless, to examine these structures and procedures in operation, covering four of Jones et al’s seven dimensions of democratic policing, it is proposed that interviews and observation be conducted at various levels:

  • interviews with complaints handling staff in police and other bodies
  • interviews with senior officers
  • interviews with civil servants and government ministers
  • interviews with force communications and corporate staff
  • observation of police authority meetings and other police-public meetings

Such data generation processes will allow the project to relate the structures and procedures to the remaining three dimensions: equity, service delivery and responsiveness. 

Timescales

Year one would be spent accessing a range of research training courses offered by the Graduate School of Social and Political Studies, equipping the successful candidate with the capacity to design and conduct successful research.  The School has a range of Economic and Social Research Council recognised research courses on data analysis, data collection and research design.  Coursework can be dovetailed with preparatory reading and the construction of a literature review on democratic policing and structures of police governance in the UK.  By the end of year one a full research plan should be in place and the student should have successfully completed a normal one year progress review procedure.

Year two would be occupied primarily with data collection and generation, including interviews with relevant informants such as complaints handlers, police authority members, and senior officers.  Anticipated outputs during this period would include ‘work in progress’ briefings.  Towards the end of the second year, emphasis would shift from data generation and collection to data analysis.

Year three would see the analysis of data being completed and would allow remaining time to be focused on writing the work up into a thesis for examination in line with the normal assessment regulations of the University of Edinburgh and into papers for presentation to interested parties, at relevant conferences, and in the appropriate academic and practitioner journals.

Dissemination

SIPR has created an exciting opportunity to allow creative contacts between universities and policing agencies in Scotland. The successful candidate will be expected to submit six-monthly reports on the progress of their research to the Executive Committee of SIPR and produce briefing papers for the police service and other practitioners on the main findings of the research. 

The successful candidate will be encouraged to target a range of academic journals in policing studies and public administration to maximise the academic impact of the project. 

Outcomes

By situating accountability mechanisms in their particular social and political contexts, the research can go beyond merely identifying apparent benefits and pitfalls of different systems to examine why particular forms develop in particular contexts.  This should feed in to the development of policies for the maintenance of legitimate policing in each jurisdiction, without a straightforward assumption of transferability of policy and mechanisms. 

Secondly, the study will make an important contribution to academic debates on the nature of democracy, relationships between democracy and accountability, and between different concepts of democracy and policing structures and practices.

Research and study environment

The Successful candidate will be based in the Social Policy subject group of the School of Social and Political Studies (www.socialpolicy.ed.ac.uk).  Doctoral students in Social Policy at the University of Edinburgh benefit from a growing strength in comparative research with 5 new appointments, including a Chair in Comparative Social Policy, since September 2005.  The subject group currently hosts 26 PhD/MSc by research students; and since January 2006, a further 12 have completed PhD programmes.  As members of a broader Graduate School students have access to a wide range of research courses and visiting speakers across various social and political disciplines.  From June 2008, the School’s research students will be housed, along with staff, in the newly refurbished Chrystal Macmillan Building.

Students also benefit from a substantial socio-legal strand in the University’s activities, drawing on the School of Law, various subject areas within the School of Social and Political Studies, and the Centre for Law and Society.

Supervisors

Andy Aitchison completed his PhD on criminal justice reforms in Bosnia and Herzegovina, focusing, in part, on the democratization of policing bodies.  He has been working as a lecturer in Social Policy since January 2006, and has previously worked for the Home Office on crime and criminal justice in Wales, and for the University of Cardiff, evaluating a targeted policing initiative.

Richard Parry has long experience of research on public management and devolution studies, including Economic and Social Research Council funded projects on the Treasury and Social Policy, the transition to the Scottish Executive in 1999, and the role of the civil service in the UK after devolution that included extensive interviews with public officials in Scotland and Northern Ireland. His recent work has been on the impact of efficiency strategies on public services and on techniques of joined-up government. He is an experienced PhD supervisor and has supervised 12 successful theses.

Further support and training

Where particular training needs are identified, the Graduate School can provide a range of advanced research skills courses.

Applicant profile and application procedure

All applicants should have, or expect to gain no later than August 2008:

  • an upper second or first class honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant social science discipline;

and EITHER

  • a postgraduate degree in a relevant social science discipline with a significant proportion of research skills courses

OR

  • relevant research experience. 

Exceptionally, candidates with a very strong honours degree incorporating a significant proportion of research skills courses may be considered in absence of postgraduate qualifications or research. 

Please apply with a CV, the names of two referees, and a statement of application making it clear why you are interested in the project and what skills, attributes and understanding you are likely to bring to it. 

Applications should be sent to:

Sarah McAfee (SIPR APPLICATIONS)
The University of Edinburgh
Graduate School of Social and Political Studies
Adam Ferguson Building
George Square
EDINBURGH  EH8 9LL 

Informal inquiries can be made to Andy Aitchison, email andy.aitchison@ed.ac.uk, telephone 0131 650 4246.

Applications must arrive no later than 6 June 2008. 

The studentship covers fees, research costs and a stipend of £10,000 per annum for a three year period. 

Interviews will be held on 26 June 2008.  The University year commences on 16 September 2008. 

Equal opportunities

The University of Edinburgh is committed to Equality of Opportunity for all its staff and students. The University values diversity and recognises that a diverse staff and student group contributes to its continued achievement of excellence.

Our aim is to promote best practice and to mainstream equality and diversity into policy and practice and to ensure compliance with equalities legislation. 

For more on University policies, see:  http://www.humanresources.ed.ac.uk/equality/

The Graduate School of Social and Political Studies

The Graduate School is one of the premier research locations in the UK, a centre of research and teaching excellence which brings together the disciplines of Politics and International Relations, Social Anthropology, Social Policy, Sociology and Social Work, and the cross-disciplinary strengths of the Science Studies Unit, the Institute of Governance, the Centre for Social and Economic Research on Innovation in Genomics (INNOGEN), and the Centres for African Studies, Canadian Studies, and South Asian Studies.
The School has a longstanding commitment to original empirical and theoretical work on society, politics, culture and public policy sustained by a cosmopolitan community of around 180 academic staff and over 400 graduate students.

The Scottish institute for Policing Research (www.sipr.ac.uk)

The Scottish Institute for Policing Research (SIPR) is a strategic collaboration between twelve of Scotland's universities and the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland, offering a range of opportunities for conducting relevant, applicable research to help the police meet the challenges of the 21st century and for achieving international excellence for policing research in Scotland.

The activities of SIPR are organized around three thematic

  • Police-Community Relations - focusing on the relationships between police and different social, cultural and economic communities;
  • Evidence and Investigation - focusing on the role of the police in the recovery, interpretation and effective use of intelligence and evidence in the investigation of crime;
  • Police Organization - focusing on the internal dynamics of police organisations, including issues of management, policy and leadership.

References

den Boer, M. (2002) Towards an accountability regime for an emerging European policing governance.  In: Policing and Society 12(4): 275-289.

Jones, T., Newburn, T., and Smith, D. (1994) Democracy and Policing.  London: Policy Studies Institute. 

Loader, I. (2002) Policing, securitization and democratization in Europe.  In: Criminal Justice 2(2): 125-153.

Freshers 2013