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Show cause analysis


Published online on


Policing: An International Journal, Volume 41, Issue 6, Page 782-797, December 2018.
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to detect and examine any trends in the self-reported causation of misconduct among officers being considered for dismissal. Design/methodology/approach The data utilised in this study consisted of show cause notice (SCN) responses. In the process of being considered for dismissal, officers’ may offer the causes of or mitigating factors to their misconduct as a means of avoiding dismissal. This study utilised these responses as a data source. Data collection occurred between January 2013 and October 2016, resulting in a cohort of n=100 responses comprised of between 1 and ~1,000 pages of free text. Qualitative methods were preferred, a conventional content analysis was performed with coding categories derived from SCN response text. Findings The results of this study indicate noteworthy levels of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and related mental health issues amongst this cohort, as well as pervasive financial and workplace stressors, which officers frequently link to the causation of their misconduct. Of particular note is the consistent co-occurrence of work-related stressors and health issues, most commonly through formally diagnosed PTSD. Research limitations/implications This study indicates an opportunity for support services to impact positively on mental health and stress, and subsequently misconduct among police officers. Originality/value There is still very little understanding of the causation of misconduct among police officers. This is the first time that this data have been utilised in any form of the research, it provides valuable insight into a potential alternative method of addressing misconduct to reactionary investigative action.