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Stressors or facilitators? Exploring the factors that impact police officers' abilities to respond to disablist hate crime

Jemma Tyson (University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 5 April 2022

Issue publication date: 24 May 2022




The purpose of this paper is to explore stressors and facilitators experienced by police officers when engaging with individuals with learning disabilities, within the context of policing disablist hate crime.


This paper is based on qualitative data obtained from research undertaken within a medium-sized police force in the south of England, and which focuses on the lived realities of service providers and service users. Using a triangulatory research approach, this research included a total of 230 h of observations of day-to-day policing, 10 semi-structured interviews with police officers and 4 focus groups with individuals with learning disabilities.


Stressors, previously identified by sociologist Michael Lipsky – the unpredictability of situations, workload pressures and need for rapid decision making – are discussed within the research, alongside additional stressors regarding the previous experience (internal and external to policing) held by police officers. For some officers, these have the opposite impact and serve as facilitators of positive engagements with individuals with learning disabilities. The discussion is situated within the social model of disability, with an emphasis placed on the impact stressors have on police processes. Finally, the paper suggests practical options for enhancing confidence within the interactions between these two groups, through police training.


The current paper explores an under-researched area of policing and disablist hate crime and utilises a combined approach of the social model of disability and Lipsky's (1980) street-level bureaucrats.



Tyson, J. (2022), "Stressors or facilitators? Exploring the factors that impact police officers' abilities to respond to disablist hate crime", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 45 No. 3, pp. 495-508.



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