Reducing complaints against police and preventing misconduct: a diagnostic study using hot spot analysis
This study demonstrates the potential for using complaints data to identify and remedy misconduct problems in policing, and to reduce complaints. The study is distinctive in focusing on units of police management responsibility at the operational level. Drawing on the criminological concept of crime mapping, analysis of complaints was conducted at a more specific level than previously attempted, either in the subject jurisdiction or in published research on the topic. The study is also distinctive in attempting to control for the effects of different "task environments" - by comparing units of similar size and similar duties - and by comparing complaint patterns in terms of concentration and prevalence. A high concentration of complaints was interpreted as indicative of a problem with small numbers of individuals attracting a large number of complaints. A high prevalence was considered indicative of a more diffuse problem that might be associated with negative aspects of the workplace culture of a unit. The analysis found units in all possible combinations of concentration and prevalence of complaints. Out of 436 units, 38 had no complaints and 79 had either a high concentration or a high prevalence. Five units had a combination of a high concentration and high prevalence. A number of implications follow from these findings subject to more refined research. For example, cases of high concentrations of complaints might to be addressed with responses tailored to individual behavioural patterns. The issue of a possible negative culture should be addressed through reviews of management practices, with attention to issues such as supervision and staff morale.
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology