Institutionalised or insecurely attached? (Reblogged from @Policechoice)

3 Mar


In the last few weeks I have been talking online via Twitter, then via email and more recently over the phone with @tonymunday1 the brains behind Policechoice. Part of what Policechoice are trying to achieve is a Legal challenge to gain Employment Rights for Police Officers. You can read about it here: and make your own mind up. Have lack of Employment Rights and more recently the view of Liberty that Officers should not be able to sue for redress when Personally defamed contributed to the decline in morale in the Force? The Federation have their hands tied on SO many issues, I can’t imagine that it helps the well being of Officers!

Our conversations have led me to crystalise a thought that has been in my mind for some time. I don’t know how to adequately explain it but here goes, no judgement is made, no criticism intended. It is merely my own simple observation. I would like to know what you think.

For the last 3 yrs I have been wondering about an explanation for the seeming acceptance of SOME intelligent and perceptive people, especially within large organisations like the Police to the shortcomings of said organisation. Yes, most question, but when push comes to shove most do not take the next step and take action.


Casting to one side, yet still keeping awareness of the very real and serious sanctions occurring for those deemed to be disaffected or causing disaffection, what could be involved in the conditioning of the mind at work here?

I like to work in pictures, analogies and in *Jules World* the best comparison I have found is to liken it to Bowlby’s attachment theory. If you are unfamiliar with this you can read a simple explanation here:

This theory deals with the connections a child makes with its primary care givers and then how it applies the relational connections learned to the rest of the world it experiences, for good or bad. The ideal would be *secure attachment* the child knows that it is unconditionally loved by its care giver and so feels free to explore and interact with others. As its confidence grows it will explore the world further. Some of the experiences it has will be positive, some less so, but because of it’s *secure* base it can cope and be comforted enough to go off and explore again. If the child does not have a *secure attachment* through some inability of the care giver to give appropriate care, this skews the child’s ability to form healthy relational attachments with its world. This is further complicated by the unpredictable reactions when it returns to base.

Obviously this is a very simplified version. What has it to do with the topic of the Police? Well, some police forces are better than others at being adequate care givers and helping the officers in their charge to feel secure. The officers know that the treatment they are given is fair and proportionate because they see that happening to those around them and experience it for themselves. This is the *ideal* Sometimes the fallibility of the force is balanced out by the reliable and efficient care given to the officers when difficulties arise by the Federation in the form of Reps. Just like in a family. Things can and do go awry. What then is the reaction open to the officers affected?

Some may choose to Whistleblow and take the consequences: some may choose to stand and try and change things from within: some may choose to leave: a few others MAY react how many insecurely, inappropriately attached children do. These children tend to do anything in order to prevent them from ascribing blame or thinking the unthinkable, that their care giver is at fault, they go to a default setting of: *my care giver cannot look after me adequately, help! If my care giver is wrong the world as it should be will fall apart, therefore the fault must lie with me* this is an unconscious thought and can lead to the child becoming withdrawn and listless.

Applied in a policing context some officers MAY feel that questioning the bedrock of the Police Service is wrong. It must be good and true and correct, otherwise their whole career choice has been based on an inconsistent lie. How hard it must be for them to realise that the one thing they have always looked to, and aspired to be the best of, is in fact not what they thought it was. It is in fact as flawed as anything else in the world. It is made up of flawed people. We are all flawed, yet we try our best (in general) to be good citizens. Some organisations, like the Police have internal rules, and external rules imposed upon them which have helped to warp the original ideal of Peelian principles because they are imposed by flawed people whose ideology is as flawed as they are.

My tentative theory is that left with the choice of condemning the service they love a few officers blame themselves, this impairs their ability to be an effective functional part of the service. The worst outcome is they become severely depressed and almost paralysed from acting in a constructive way to change things. In such conditions it would be natural to feel demoralised due to suppressive leadership and rules applied in an inconsistent, Draconian fashion. Are they conditioned to accept that there is no way that they can challenge both their leadership and the government? Is there a better explanation? What realistically is the choice open to them? How does this impact on the Public? Questions that I am left with.


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