Close menu


Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

Policing by Consent: Some Practitioner Perceptions

Robertson, Adam (2016) Policing by Consent: Some Practitioner Perceptions. Doctoral thesis, University of Sunderland.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)


The purpose of this work is to examine the concept or notion of policing by consent and it is important to note, at the outset, that the vast majority of the literature produced on the subject, both current and past, has concentrated on policing by consent from many different viewpoints with one quite startling omission. There does not appear to be any academic study based on the views and perceptions of it [consent] that the practitioners, the police themselves, have.
In order to correct this imbalance the study therefore set out, by means of a series of semi-structured interviews, to obtain the views and perceptions of both serving and retired officers of a principle, certainly of policing in England and Wales, which is at the very core of their professional lives. Prior to the interviews, which took place between November 2007 and December 2008, the officers were arranged into four cohorts, each cohort consisting of ten officers, and within each cohort, the officers range across the continuum of rank, ethnicity, gender and length of service. This provided a series of wide ranging views, but with some important common themes, across the continuum of policing.
It is important to note however, that in a study as limited as this, it could never be said that the views expressed represent those of the police service in general, nevertheless, the study does represent the views of a number of officers, and, more importantly adds to the body of knowledge on the subject.
Following the interviews, which were digitally recorded and later transcribed, analysis, which was based on an amalgam of analytical methods, took place. The psychological aspects were dealt with by reference to both
axiomatic knowledge and the actions and motives of subjects who are placed in an interview situation
The findings, which have been arranged into a series of themes based upon various models of what has been termed the ‘unofficial’ culture of the police which often appears to be at variance with the accepted norms and values of policing. These ‘official’ values are driven by legislation, a series of national policies and national policing initiatives, all of which, in turn, are bound by the financial constraints of a fixed annual budget composed in part of a local policing precept set by the police and crime commissioners in consultation with Chief Officers. The remainder of the budget is funded by central government following the annual inspection of forces by Her Majesties Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).
The findings also reveal the emergence of a strong sense of duty which, in turn, indicates, that as professional police officers, they do indeed both recognise and endeavour to practice policing with that most important element of consent. To their credit they have also acknowledged the occasions when through either their own actions or because of the constraints placed upon them by the legislation they have lost that vital element of consent and have reflected upon it and the impact that it has had upon their future practices.
The work, in its entirety, provides a valuable insight into the views of both serving and retired officers, particularly with regards to the effects that police culture have had, either knowingly, unknowingly or unwittingly upon their actions. It has also provided a valuable contribution to the extensive body of literature on policing in England and Wales.

Policingbyconsent.pdf - Accepted Version

Download (1MB) | Preview

More Information

Depositing User: Barry Hall


Item ID: 6991

Users with ORCIDS

Catalogue record

Date Deposited: 03 Mar 2017 11:25
Last Modified: 20 May 2019 13:31


Author: Adam Robertson

University Divisions

Collections > Theses


Social Sciences > Criminology

Actions (login required)

View Item (Repository Staff Only) View Item (Repository Staff Only)