Gender and Policing: Narratives of Crisis, Change and Continuity
The recruitment of a more diverse police workforce has been central to police reform agendas across time and place. Police organisations throughout the world have been subject to a number of high-profile and damning reports that have emphasised the damaging effects of a lack of diversity. Such damaging effects have been repeatedly cited in relation to both external interactions between police and citisens, and to the internal interactions between police officers themselves. This paper considers more specifically the issue of gender representation within policing. It reflects on the histories that have shaped women’s entry, progression and participation in policing over the past century and considers some of the contemporary challenges faced by police organisations in maintaining and improving women’s representation within a climate of economic constraint. Histories of policing have consistently demonstrated that bringing about change to the organisation is a difficult and often protracted process. Indeed much research has pointed to the long tradition of police resistance to organisational change initiatives. Through reflecting on the past and present, it engages with narratives of ‘crisis’ ‘change’ and ‘continuity’ in thinking about the future of gender and policing.
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