Regulating autonomy: Police discretion as a problem for training

Willem De Lint

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17 Citations (Scopus)


Two recent examples of police training are analyzed as illustrations of a new approach to the governance or regulation of police through their discretion. While previous to the 1960's, training left police discretion under the purview of the occupational culture and 'common sense' approaches, subsequently attention has been paid to structuring discretionary decision-making through training. This training has taken two general policy approaches. The first has been to try to require a more educated police candidate, and thereby to compel decision-making towards liberal values. The second has been to use technical training devices in the aim of blending these values into practical training. The argument is that, by and large, it is a technical training under the auspices of new managerial regulatory agendas which is winning out. This technical training tends to celebrate the police officer as a chooser, and is in this way consistent with neo-liberal policy direction. Some implications of the police officer as a chooser are discussed, and more research into the nature of decision-making under the auspices of the chooser is called for.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-304
Number of pages28
JournalCanadian Journal of Criminology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 1998
Externally publishedYes


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