Doing policing : an inquiry into the rhetorical and argumentative skills of the police
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This thesis examines the spoken and written discourse of uniformed British police officers. Utilising a rhetorical and discursive analysis, the study considers firstly how officers use their considerable powers of discretion to deal informally with crime and criminal incidents. Focusing on a form of discretion that the police refer to as cuffing, two specific discursive practices were identified as being used by police to informally resolve crime: these were the giving of suitable advice and the that's civil device. The second part of the study was concerned with the formal prosecution process and how officers construct prosecution case files. Specifically, how they reformulate and precis evidence in 'domestic' violence cases to assist a Crown prosecutor in making a charging decision. In this normally confidential and non-public discourse, officers rely upon a very narrow range of linguistic devices and speech genres; these are combined with an equally limited array of gendered stereotypes and legal myths, with the result that prosecution cases can be 'subverted' (Sacks 1995) and thus discontinued. In both studies, the doing of policing was consistent with two occupational ideologies that are influential within police operational subcultures: the ideology of pragmatism and the ideology of self-preservation. The findings raise concerns about some of the working practices of the police.
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