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Watching out for the watchers

Anna Corbo Crehan (Australian Graduate School of Policing and Security, Charles Sturt University, Kingston, Australia)
Michael Absalom (NSW Police Force, Goulburn, Australia)

Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice

ISSN: 2056-3841

Article publication date: 19 September 2016




The purpose of this paper is to enhance the understanding of the situational vulnerabilities faced by police qua police, with a view to identifying the best ways of addressing those vulnerabilities.


The “theoretical vocabulary for analysing vulnerability” developed by Mackenzie et al. (2014) provides the framework for most of the discussion. Discussions of self-care as developed for other professions have informed the discussion on self-care for police officers.


The paper draws two key conclusions: that a fuller understanding of police officers’ vulnerability qua police needs to extend to a consideration of officers’ off-duty time, and that police officers need to be better apprised of the situational vulnerabilities they will face qua police officers so that subjective experiences of those vulnerabilities are not unnecessarily traumatic. Finally the paper identifies the need for the professional obligation to engage in efficacious self-care practices to be applied to police officers to ensure responsibility for their situational vulnerabilities is fairly distributed between themselves and their organisation.

Practical implications

The insights identified in the paper have implications for better addressing the ways in which police officers cope, and are assisted to cope, with the distressing and disturbing aspects of their work.


A clear need for better understanding of, and responses to, the vulnerabilities to which police work gives rise is required, given current rates of suicide, and mental and psychological injury amongst police officers.



Corbo Crehan, A. and Absalom, M. (2016), "Watching out for the watchers", Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice, Vol. 2 No. 3, pp. 164-172.



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