Police Culture in Malta.
thesisposted on 07.05.2009, 11:47 by Jacqueline Azzopardi Cauchi
This dissertation is an attempt at identifying the threads that constitute and bind the complex tapestry of Maltese police culture. It describes police culture as understood by various authors, especially by Reiner (2000:87-101) however, it also describes police culture from the Maltese perspective. As Chan (1997:66) explains, there exist several ‘cultures within a police force’ and the culture of one police force varies from the next. Police cultures do not originate in a vacuum but within dominant cultures. Thus, the dominant culture of a particular society determines the type of its police culture. Therefore, the recent political history of the Maltese islands influenced the nature of its police culture. Indeed, Maltese opinion leaders, Dom Mintoff in particular, moulded police occupational culture: verbal and physical harshness, political intolerance, fear, unconditional obedience for those in command, firmness and hard-headedness. Reiner (1992:109) explains that police experiences are the building blocks of police culture. These serve as guidance to other police officers, helping them to deal with and adjust to the stress induced by policing. Successive generations of police officers absorb this culture, use it as a point of reference, transform it and carry it on to the next generation of police officers. Cox (1996:167-169) explains that police recruits are ‘encouraged to treat other citizens encountered as “symbolic assailants”’, basing their attitudes on stereotypes. Thus, since the ‘cultural model of organisations emphasizes the underlying values, beliefs, and attitudes of organizational members’ (Fyfe, Greene, Walsh, Wilson and McLaren, 1997:160), this thesis investigates the self-conceptions and the attitudes of Maltese police officers as well as their relationship with: the community, offenders, victims, the judiciary and corrections. An insight into how Maltese police officers view society and their role within it facilitates the comprehension of their operating methods. Effective cultural change is not imposed: it comes from within the police force, triggered by the very officers who are constantly changing police culture (Chan, 1997:237). The findings of this study could pave the way for better police training and for the consequent improvements in Maltese policing.