The Making of a Police Officer: Comparative Perspectives on Police Education and Recruitment, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Making of a Police Officer

Comparative Perspectives on Police Education and Recruitment, 1st Edition

Edited by Tore Bjørgo, Marie-Louise Damen


264 pages | 45 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9780367228668
pub: 2020-03-11
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Does a more academic type of police education produce new police officers that are reluctant to patrol the streets? What is the impact of gender diversity and political orientation on a police students’ career aspirations and attitudes to policing? These are some of the questions addressed by this longitudinal project, following police students in seven European countries. The unique data material makes it possible to explore a wide range of topics relevant to the future development of policing, police education, and police science more generally.

Part one presents an overview of the different goals and models of police education in the seven participating countries. Part two describes what type of student is attracted to police education, taking into consideration educational background, political orientation and career aspirations. Part three shows the social impact of police education by examining students’ orientations towards emerging competence areas, students’ career aspirations, and students’ attitudes concerning trust, cynicism and legalism.

The overall results show that police students are strikingly similar across different types of police education. Students in academic institutions are at least as interested in street patrolling as students in vocational training institutions. Gender and recruitment policies matters more in relation to career preferences than education models. The national context plays a more important role than the type of police education system. Written in a clear and direct style, this book will appeal to students and scholars in policing, criminology, sociology, social theory, cultural studies and those interested in how police education shapes its graduates.


The international and comparative research on police education and training described in this book offers fundamental empirical insights regarding an aspect of vital concern in police studies. Researchers and policy makers alike will find in this volume a wealth of information and detail that will provide insights into career entry and early professional socialization into the police organization in seven European countries. Original research of this kind practically demonstrates the important contribution of independent academic research on the public understanding of police institutions.

James Sheptycki, Professor of Criminology, York University, Canada

The book answers important questions about how to recruit and train police, and ways to nurture healthy perspectives among officers and launch successful careers in law enforcement. Sweeping across seven regions of the northern hemisphere, the research behind these findings and recommendations promises to be applicable to a broad variety of policing traditions. There is nothing else like it.

Wesley G. Skogan, Professor of Political Science, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University, USA

This book is an eye-opener for all those engaged in policing. The authors address the broader issues related to police recruitment, education and its academisation. Debunking widespread myths, they add essential nuances to its complexity and offer a research agenda for the future.

Marleen Easton, Professor Governing & Policing Security, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University

How can we ‘make’ police officers? What we need is a consistent democratic approach from recruitment to further education. But how can we neither produce Dirty Harrys nor Legalists? How can we implement the right philosophy of policing into police students? This study by a European group of police scholars provides us with substantial data and interpretation. A must read for police educators all over Europe.

Thomas Feltes, Senior professor in Criminology and Police Science, Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany

Table of Contents

Notes on contributors

Lists of figures

List of tables


  1. A longitudinal and comparative European study of recruitment, education and careers in the police (RECPOL): What this project contributes to the development of police science

    Tore Bjørgo and Marie-Louise Damen

  2. Police education in seven European countries in the framework of their police systems
  3. Kjersti Hove and Lola Vallès

  4. Diversity and academisation: Who do the police educations attract?
  5. Rasmus Juul Møberg

  6. Iceland as a microcosm of the effects of educational reform on police students’ social background
  7. Guðmundur Oddsson, Andrew Paul Hill, Ólafur Örn Bragason, Þóroddur Bjarnason and Kjartan Ólafsson

  8. Mirroring society: How politically representative are police students in Europe?
  9. Gunnar Thomassen

  10. Understanding learning preferences and career aspirations of Norwegian police students from a comparative perspective
  11. Pål Winnæss, Marie-Louise Damen and Gunnar Thomassen

  12. Police students’ values of enduring and emerging competence areas in police education
  13. Staffan Karp, Kirsi Kohlström, Oscar Rantatalo and Mojgan Padyab

  14. Horizontal and vertical career preferences and aspirations for male and female police recruits
  15. Rasmus Juul Møberg and Marie-Louise Damen

  16. Cynicism and (dis)trust in the police: Self-selection or evolving attitudes?
  17. Gunnar Thomassen and Jon Strype

  18. Producing legalists or dirty Harrys? Police education and field training
  19. Silje Bringsrud Fekjær and Otto Petersson

  20. Selecting and shaping police students in Europe: Main findings and discussion

Marie-Louise Damen and Tore Bjørgo


About the Editors

Tore Bjørgo is a Professor at the University of Oslo and (adjunct) Professor of Police Science at the Norwegian Police University College. He is also Director of the Center for Research on Extremism (C-REX). He initiated the RECPOL project in 2008 and has been leading it since the start until recently. He has published extensively in the fields of violent extremism and terrorism, criminal gangs, crime prevention, policing and vigilantism.

Marie-Louise Damen is a Associate Professor in quantitative research methods at the Norwegian Police University College in Oslo. Her research interests are sociology of (higher) education, stratification, cultural sociology, social movements and research methodology. Since October 2017 she has been involved in the RECPOL-project, and has gradually taken over as coordinator.

About the Series

Routledge Frontiers of Criminal Justice

Routledge Frontiers of Criminal Justice offers the very best in research on criminal justice systems around the world, offering fresh insights on a range of topics in criminal procedure, including policing, prisons, courts, youth justice, community measures, rehabilitation, victimology and forensics science.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Criminology