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                            Cop Culture: The Impact of Confrontation on the Working Personality of Frontline Gardai
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Technological University Dublin Technological University Dublin

[email protected] Dublin [email protected] Dublin

Dissertations Social Sciences


Cop Culture: The Impact of Confrontation on the Working Cop Culture: The Impact of Confrontation on the Working

Personality of Frontline Gardai Personality of Frontline Gardai

Paul Williams
Technological University Dublin, [email protected]

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Part of the Criminology Commons

Recommended Citation Recommended Citation
Williams, P. (2016) Cop culture: the impact of confrontation on the working personality of frontline gardai.
Masters dissertation, 2016.

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Cop Culture:

The impact of confrontation on the
working personality of frontline gardai

A thesis submitted to the Dublin Institute of Technology in part fulfilment of
the requirements for the award of Masters Degree (M.A.) in Criminology


Paul Williams

September 2016

Supervisor: Dr. Matt Bowden

Department of Social Sciences, Dublin Institute of Technology.

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The sample group universally agreed that the support of colleagues was

important especially in difficult or violent confrontations. However, the data

suggests that several years of pay cuts, resource shortages and a lack of

recruitment may be undermining internal solidarity within An Garda Siochana.

The participants each described how their particular unit or station party had

experienced significant drops in personnel numbers which placed even more

pressure on individual officers with less colleagues to rely on.

The organizational stagnation had reduced opportunities for personal

development and promotion, which in turn, further undermined morale.

Individual socio-economic considerations were also cited by the participants

as having a knock-on negative effect on solidarity: officers said they were

forced, for financial reasons, to live much longer distances from the areas

where they worked and they had less disposable income which prevented unit

members socializing together.

another side of it, we socialised together. We knew each other very well. We

quad biking or any of those smaller things. And
that was such a huge outlet. That was how guards coped with the job they did

ironed out that happened
drinks. Lads would have ironed things out and they would have been resolved
and put to bed then. (S1FN).

4.4 Cynicism: Street Cop Culture versus Managerial Culture.

Research of police culture has noted how negative and cynical attitudes

characterise the attitudes of lower ranking officers towards their managerial

ranks (Skolnick, 1966; Reiner, 1992a, 2010; Crank, 2004; Paoline, 2004). The

research participants all reserved their most cynical and negative views for

Garda management.

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They reported a disconnect with their hierarchy which also reflected the

findings of qualitative research on culture which was conducted by the Garda

Inspectorate (2015) which reported:

; that and

more senior management could be concerned with - rather

than acting in the best needs of the organisation (Garda Inspectorate Report,

2015: 10-11). The views expressed also reflected the findings of a morale

survey which was published by the Association of Garda Sergeants and

Inspectors in December 2015.

The data sample claimed that senior managers were more concerned with

promotion and public relations which tended to involve renaming and

rebranding existing units to give the impression of new initiatives being

pursued. The participants also spoke of cronyism and favouritism when

members sought moves to other units or promotions.

gs in this job which link up. They (management) will
literally issue one directive which is in complete conflict with the directive that

And unfortunately if you have an issue with
something it will go up into Garda headquarters and you will never see it again


ople standing on the M50 for

17 hours and not fed, no toilet breaks do you know? Things like that. But to


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G1F: Yeah, they’re like why would you do it? I think if you ask that question to anybody why would they

go out every day with a chance of being assaulted or a chance of being injured for less pay, with no

support, without the resources they should have to do a job. Why would they be motivated? And it’s

really hard to stay motivated, it really is. But when I’m dealing with people at the counter or out at a

call it’s not their fault that my pay has been cut. It’s not their fault that I don’t have the resources even

though they like to tell me “I pay your wages” and you would like to ask them for a pay rise but it’s not

their fault. Before my accident you could ring me at home anytime day or night and if I was off and

someone in work needed me, ring me anytime, day or night. But now when I leave work, I leave work

and I’m dealing with it tomorrow. Like when was in task force it was assumed you were kind of on

call. If divisionally search or murder, we’d come in for searches and callouts just in relation to

anything. If they needed you when they rang you, you came in. Two years my phone was on and if

anybody needed me here I came in. Now at the Regency, that happened when I was at home. If I was

in task force I would have come in but now when I leave work I leave work and I’ll deal with it

tomorrow. And that part of me has died.

PW: The enthusiasm?

G1F; I’m not going to be at home with my family and leave my family to come into work when I’m not

getting any thanks or any support and anything for it. I don’t mean that in a financial way because why

should I, I’m only a number. Why should I? It’s sad, it’s terrible but that’s one of the biggest

differences in me. Before, definitely I would have come in at the drop of a hat, no problem, I’ll be in

20 minutes. I live 20 minutes from here. I’ll be in in 20 minutes, I’ll drop everything. Where now, no

I’m at home. If I’m here and not gone, that’s no problem but I won’t be leaving my house to come

back into work.

PW: Is the support of your colleagues is it important or helpful?

G1F: It’s vital


G1F: It’s limited but it is...if my Sergeant asked me to do anything, if she asked me to stand on my head in

the corner for a day, I would. If she said to me, we’re really stuck would you work on? No problem! I

would literally, no problem. If she asked me to do something, no problem. Because she appreciates it.

PW: Has there been a disconnect? Do you go to socialise with other guards to unwind?

G1F: Not really. I used to when I started, at first you had loads of Garda friends and such. I have a very

small close Garda friends but I wouldn’t socialise. We’d go out in the unit here once or twice, I think

in the past year we’ve been out twice.

PW: Is that something that has changed? But would you find that when you do get together, would

you be cynical about upper ranks?

G1F: We all think the same

PW: What do you all think the same together? Like Sergeants and guards...the frontline people?

G1F: We’re just being shafted. That’s the only way to kind of….

PW: Shafted, why and by whom?

G1F: Shafted in there’s no resources, they don’t care but they want the job done but they won’t help you to

do the job. They make this big thing out of the media, the armed support unit, it’s great and the Garda

patrols and it’s this and this and this. You’re listening to what they’re saying to the media and the

general public and you genuinely think to yourself if they only actually knew. If they only actually

knew. Like if you were to sit in our public office for only one day, for one Friday, for one busy

Friday. Say if you were to sit in that public office for one day, you would be surprised what comes in,

what comes out, the calls that come in and the calls that go out. Essentially there are 3 people doing it

and in the middle of all this they change the rosters around. So it’s like...and then they keep throwing

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out new rosters to us and the new rosters don’t benefit us. Even like that if they were trying to give us a

roster that worked for us like if it was something that worked for us on the ground operational, people

that worked the core. If there was something that worked for us you would say well they’re making an

effort, they’re after give us this great new roster at least that would be something but everything they

seem to do seems to be for their benefit and not for the benefit of...

PW: When you say they and their benefit, are you talking about upper ranks?

G1F: Yeah the organisation.

PW: Would

you be talking about inspectors?

G1F: I don’t know maybe go to Super. I don’t know about inspectors. Garda and Sergeant are the two

hardest ranks that you come across in the guards. Probably not even Sergeant, probably guards.

PW: Would you go for Sergeant?

G1F: I’ve done the exam

PW: Have you?

G1F: I’ve the exam done 3 years and I haven’t reported for interview yet.


G1F: No. I haven’t gone forward, I haven’t put myself forward for the interview yet.

PW: Why?

G1F: I don’t feel with 8 years’ service I have enough experience to be in charge of other people as in, there’s

people that are getting promoted with 5 years’ service but I think that 8 years’ service if you were to

put me over Store St, over 20 people, I’d be in over my head and I wouldn’t be able to benefit them and

you wouldn’t be able to rely on me like you would a Sergeant. If only some people who went for

Sergeant thought like that we wouldn’t have half the problems we do. No it’s just...I will go for it but

in time when it’s right and when I can confidently say I’m ready...I will. But I don’t think I should put

myself in over my head (inaudible)

End of interview

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