Accidental heroes

  • Jenny Weaver

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis examines the reasons why certain police personnel choose to deal with sex offenders. More than any other criminal, the sex offender is despised and feared by society. Sex offenders are seen as evil incarnate with an ability to influence and traumatise the people around them. They have a way of corrupting and contaminating those around them, and are considered toxic by many parts of the criminal justice system. The police service in England and Wales is responsible in part for dealing with these ‘monsters’. Police culture seems to agree with this description of sex offenders with many police personnel not understanding, accepting or trusting why certain of their colleagues would choose to deal with them. There is very little research into this area of police work.
This thesis, by way of 52 semi-structured interviews with police personnel from three different police force areas across England, focuses on the reasons given for their career choice, how they think about their work, support for this and ways in which to stay healthy while doing a demanding and possibly traumatising job. What was apparent was that the participants had chosen to deal with sex offenders for many and different reason. What was also apparent during the interviews and further analysis was that a majority of the participants had suffered an adverse childhood experience. Prevalent throughout the interviews was that whilst their ending up in this position for many an accidental nature, the fact that they subsequently discovered that they could do a job well while many in the police would not or could not, giving them a strong sense of self-worth and pride. That is why these officers deserve the label ‘accidental heroes’.
Date of AwardSept 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorFrancis Pakes (Supervisor)

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