Police social work has been defined several ways among the entries published in major social work reference works. The first time police social work appears in the Encyclopedia of Social Work (18th ed.), it is defined in Treger 1987 (cited under Reference Works) as a new area of social work practice in which social workers provide assessment and crisis intervention in a timely manner to individuals experiencing delinquency, mental health issues, alcohol and substance use and abuse, family and neighbor conflicts, and crime victimization. Social workers also provide counseling to police officers and their families as well as training and consultation. Treger also highlights the challenges that arise when social workers and police collaborate. Finally, Treger notes that 50 percent to 90 percent of calls that police receive require a social service response. This establishes the basis for police social work. In other writings, Treger describes demonstration projects in Illinois that provided the foundation for police social work practice. Prior and subsequent to Treger’s work, a literature has developed that describes the types of social challenges addressed by police social workers, roles and tasks, problems that arise when social workers and police collaborate, benefits derived from police social work, and similarities and differences between social workers and police officers. Despite more than 13,000 police departments operating in the United States, police social work constitutes a small area of social work practice. Police social work collaborations range from models in which social workers are employed by police departments to those in which social workers are employed in human service agencies and establish collaborations with police departments. Police social work is international in scope. Documented collaborations, and the similarities between police functions and social work, include numerous countries; among them, Great Britain and the United States of America. Despite geographic differences, the literature supports the need for police social work and identifies the benefits that can be derived from such collaborations. The types of social problems on which social workers and police officers collaborate are also similar among the various countries, and they include issues dealing with juvenile offenders, child abuse, and domestic violence. However, a debate exists regarding whether social workers and police can collaborate effectively given the differences between the two occupations. Most of the literature is of older vintage.
Article. 8982 words.
Subjects: Social Work
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