Blowing the whistle on police violence. Gender, ethnography and ethics

Westmarland, Louise (2001). Blowing the whistle on police violence. Gender, ethnography and ethics. British Journal of Criminology, 41(3) pp. 523–535.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/bjc/41.3.523

Abstract

This article highlights a number of issues related to the witnessing of ‘illegal’ police violence by researchers. Empirical evidence is drawn from fieldwork conducted for a larger study of police culture, which is the first examination of gender relations in the British police. This extensive ethnographic study is used to highlight the way fieldwork can lead to a number of ethically ambiguous situations. Whether to ‘blow the whistle’, to express disapproval, report to senior officers or some other authority on viewing violence or ‘excessive force’ is analysed. A number of scenarios are described which are used to reflect upon the personal ethical stance that often has to be used to resolve such issues.

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