New Approaches to Compare Police Practice in Europe: an Occupational Health Perspective
Police work is a particular stressful occupation. Exposure to stressors everyday impairs physical and psychological health and can impact the welfare of citizens. It seems crucial to further understand stress among police officers in order to have proactive and healthy European police force. Despite this need, previous research on Police stress has been impaired by several problems. These include relying largely on self-report measures, retrospective biases, and cross sectional designs, failing to address within-person variations. Police forces in most European countries face nowadays extremely challenging times due to a combination of factors, including open borders, drug trafficking, terrorism, multicultural diversity and the overall use of new technologies in contemporary life (Benyon, 1994; Oakley, 2001). Hence, there is an urgent need to conduct comparative occupational health studies among police forces in Europe, allowing the development of knowledge in this area and the dissemination of best practices to tackle police stress and foster police health and well-being. Despite this need, little work has been conducted, mainly due to a variety of reasons discussed in this paper that are likely to emerge when conducting European comparative studies on police. In an attempt to overcome some of these challenges, recommendations are provided and particularly an innovative interdisciplinary research method developed in the SCOPE project is described. Findings of this research will impact theoretical and applied knowledge in the area of police occupational health. Finally, this seems to be a promising research method to use in future comparative occupational health studies among police forces in Europe.
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