This paper reviews the socio-environmental influences on the police culture of the London Metropolitan Police Force between the 1930s and 1960s as a basis for arguing that the traditional view of police culture (i.e., police behavior and values are determined by the "universal" nature of police work) leads to narrow and biased frames of reference that fail to capture the complexities and variations in police culture.
This review of a segment of the history of the London Metropolitan Police shows substantial variations in police behavior in different policing locations within the force. Based on these data, the paper suggests that substantial variations in police behavior and values (culture) may be attributable to the features of the geographical locations in which policing is done, rather than to a fixed culture that is stable and perpetuated across geographic jurisdictions. Over half of the officers interviewed for this study (n=26) claimed that the geographical location of the station was an important factor in determining the behaviors and attitudes of the police officers. This is not to imply, however, that the police managers and front-line officers in a given geographic jurisdiction have little influence on the values and styles of policing that characterize the police culture of a given jurisdiction. The police culture of a particular station is forged through an interaction of the distinctive features of the jurisdiction and the ways in which the police force adapts its values and policing style to the jurisdictional environment. The data for this analysis were obtained from 26 retired police officers from the London Metropolitan Police Service who had been in active service between the 1930s and the 1960s. Nine had served as criminal investigators, and 17 had worked as uniformed officers. 29 notes, 47 references, and appended details on the interviewees' station
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