Journal Article

Policing Students’ Understanding of Obedience to Authority

John Nixon, Ken Wooden and Anna Corbo Crehan

in Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice

Volume 6, issue 4, pages 335-343
Published in print December 2012 | ISSN: 1752-4512
Published online September 2012 | e-ISSN: 1752-4520 | DOI:
Policing Students’ Understanding of Obedience to Authority

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This article reports on a research project prompted by the question ‘how might policing students’ learning about professional ethics contribute to a robust understanding of ways to synthesise the apparently competing obligations to report colleagues’ misconduct and to obey orders?’ The project canvassed students at three distinct stages of their study, focussing on their understanding of obedience to authority, their perspectives on the advantages and disadvantages of obedience to authority in a policing context, and their reactions to a series of hypothetical cases. This article refers only to students’ understanding of the concept of obedience to authority. The authors conclude that any teaching about the limits of obedience to authority needs to be resilient to the students’ experiences of enculturation into the command and control model of policing; or, conversely, that the command and control model itself should be modified or otherwise inculcated in students.

Journal Article.  4257 words. 

Subjects: Policing

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