I wannabe a copper: The engagement of Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) with the dominant police occupational culture’

Article English OPEN
Cosgrove, Faye (2016)

Drawing upon ethnographic research with PCSOs working in two neighbourhood policing teams in Northern England, this article presents a typology of PCSO orientations to work and for the first time details the ways in which PCSOs utilise aspects of the dominant culture to manage the discord between aspirations and opportunities within the PCSO role. Engagement with aspects of the dominant culture varied according to career aspirations and orientations to work; ‘Frustrated PCSOs’ were most likely to endorse cultural characteristics as a means of facilitating integration and enhancing opportunities for crime control, whilst Professional PCSOs adopted aspects of the dominant culture when doing so diversified their deployment, enhanced effectiveness and the acquisition of craft skills to support future applications to become police officers. The article concludes by considering the resilience of the traditional police culture, particularly the dominant crimefighting ethos therein and the implications presented for the future of the PCSO role.
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