Interoperability of European Police Cultures
: Professional Implications for the Cooperation within European Police Missions

  • Detlef Schroeder

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This paper presents a research project on the interoperability of European police cultures in EU police missions. As a senior police officer, the author has been involved in international police cooperation for more than 20 years. His constant contact with the different police cultures in Europe sparked his interest in researching the diversity of European police cultures and the extent to which they are interoperable.
In the context of the complex arrangement of the police component in EU missions, the author places his work. Since 2003, the European Union has established 36 missions in countries emerging from war or post-conflict situations. Most of these missions have a police component. For several decades, these missions have been the subject of academic debate. However, the niche of police missions has not yet been studied to a sufficient extent.
The ecosystems of EU police missions are analysed. They function as a 'melting pot' for police cultures coming from different police services in Europe. In such missions, all the police officers must work in difficult and, at times, hostile conditions. Each of these officers comes with his or her 'cultural rucksack' from his or her home police service.
Using grounded theory methodology, the author has adopted a qualitative exploratory research approach. The study is based on 24 semi-structured interviews with European police officers who have served in a variety of police missions.
The research provides a comprehensive overview of the current state of knowledge on police cultures and their impact on cooperation in police missions.
The author presents key aspects and emerging themes for further consideration from the data analysis. The complexity, transience, fragility, and dynamics of police missions are key. The composition of the mission personnel, the working and living conditions, the mandates, the local partners, the local culture, and the network of international organisations present, as well as the different levels of threat in the host countries, create unique ecosystems in which police officers must operate.
Gender issues between female and male mission staff and the misbehaviour of some male mission staff towards the local population have emerged as significant themes.
The next theme is the perceived North/West vs. South/East divide in policing cultures across Europe. The data is suggestive on this point. However, the data do not have a clear definition of the divide in terms of geography.
The final theme that emerges from the data is that of communication problems. In combination with deficits in the official language of the mission, cultural communication problems emerge.
The limitations of the project will also be part of the discussion. Due to the size and scope of the project, it was not possible to answer all the research questions in full. Some of the findings and themes are tentative. They require and may stimulate further research.
Date of Award30 May 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorJonathan Charles Fox (Supervisor) & Francis Pakes (Supervisor)

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