Adjusting the police occupational cultural landscape: the case of An Garda Síochána

Sarah Charman, Donal Corcoran

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A central area of interest yet controversy within policing over many decades has been the extent to which there exists a pernicious and pervasive occupational culture which operates in stark contrast to the aims of a principled police force. This article seeks to analyse the contentious issue of the culture of a police force under the pressure of organisational reform, with particular reference to An Garda Síochána, the Irish National Police Service. It draws upon an analysis of interviews conducted with police officers working across a range of units in one division of the national police service of the Republic of Ireland – an organisation that has not long ago been the subject of an post-scandal suggested internal reform agenda, driven by the Morris Tribunal’s investigation of a major policing scandal. It presents an appraisal of officer perceptions relating to the key features of An Garda Síochána’s ‘adjusted’ operational level occupational culture as they may be. These imply that the outcomes embedded in a number of reforms might well have altered the ‘expected’ cultural expressions of the police, thereby, challenging the suitability of ‘conventional’ themes of police characteristics and practices in relation to Irish police experience on the ground. It seems Irish police officers share an outlook that views formal rules as self-serving and normative orders designed to regulate their professional conduct. Garda culture may be characterised by its relative adoption or adaptation of new approaches, methods and techniques in public service delivery. So too it looks as if conventional values relating to police solidarity and loyalty, may have been ‘conditionally’ adjusted, in accordance with a changing accountability framework.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)484-503
Number of pages20
JournalPolicing and Society
Issue number5
Early online date5 Feb 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2015


  • police culture
  • An Garda Síochána
  • police reform
  • the Morris Tribunal
  • Irish policing


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