Holding police accountability theory to account

  • Frank C. Harris

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This study contributes to the contemporary debate about external citizen oversight (ECO) of police by taking up the challenge of assessing the extent to which such oversight agencies or their procedures are associated with lower levels of police misconduct. More specifically, the research consists of a case study of the Police Inspectorate of Kosovo (PIK), an example of ‘holistic’ ECO - i.e. an agency that combines a reactive (complaint investigation) function with a proactive (policy recommendation) function. It is the first such evaluation of police governance and oversight in Kosovo, employing both qualitative and quantitative approaches. Importantly, it adds to a small but growing body of research into the perceptions of police officers about the impact of ECO on police conduct. It triangulates documentary evidence - including legislation, procedures, PIK reports and statistical data – with primary data obtained through a questionnaire survey of junior-ranked police officers and semi-structured interviews with senior-ranked.

The findings reveal that the PIK meets the main criteria of ECO, as indicated in the literature. Although the documentary evidence fails to provide clear indications that PIK activity (or procedures) are associated with improved police conduct, the primary data offers evidence that there might be such a link. A significant proportion of over 500 questionnaire respondents expressed positive views about ECO, albeit also expressing positive views about police investigation of complaints. In conclusion, the study offers evidence of a link between ECO activity and improved policing conduct that warrants further investigation. It confirms the findings of other authors that future research into police perceptions ought to focus on fairness and process.

Date of AwardMay 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorSteve Savage (Supervisor) & David Pritchard (Supervisor)

Cite this