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Gender, status and professional boundaries in crime investigation

Research project The police struggles with low crime clearance rates and a shortage of trained police officers. In order to meet these problems, employment of civilian crime investigators (CIs) has increased.

This project examines the process of civilianization of criminal investigative (CI) work in the Swedish police. How gender and professional background affect the division of labor and legitimacy in CIs professional practice is the focus of this project, funded by FORTE.

Head of project

Project overview

Project period:

2021-01-01 2023-12-31

Funding

Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Education

Research subject

Pedagogy

Project description

This project examines the process of civilianization of criminal investigative (CI) work in the Swedish police. The police struggles with low crime clearance rates and a shortage of trained police officers. In order to meet these problems, employment of civilian crime investigators (CIs) has increased. In criminal investigation, an ongoing development is that civilian employees take on the tasks and responsibilities of trained police officers and this process is in the international research called for "civilianization". Civilian CIs differ from their police colleagues in two important respects. First, they often have higher degrees of qualification but are nonetheless struggling with not being considered “real” police. Second, they are mostly female, arriving in an organization famed for masculine culture. The aim of this project is to investigate how civilianization changes the criminal investigative practice. Specifically, we analyze how gender and professional background affect the division of labor and legitimacy in CIs professional practice. As the project will be carried out during the Coronavirus pandemic, we will also study it's effect on investigative work. We use an ethnographic methodology, where we "shadow" civilian CIs through participatory observations and interviews. Analyzes of the activities take advantage of theoretical understandings of how work is organized as well as concepts that are linked to status and power. Changes in the labor force have previously mostly been studied at the macro level and in retrospect. In contrast, this project offers a unique opportunity to “zoom in” and study an ongoing real-time change, as extensive civilianization of the police is happening right now. An understanding of this is important as it provides insights on how criminal investigations can be organized in an inclusive way, to support equal opportunities for both men, women, police officers and civilian CIs in the police organization.