Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts


Civilian oversight has emerged as one of the legitimate means to exercise checks on the abuses of police power. However, it is argued that seconded or former police officers may be critically compromised through their exposure and socialisation into police culture and the elements of camaraderie and loyalty that are traditionally associated with that culture. The objective of this research was to identify underlying frameworks that both produce and promote behaviour and meaning for civil review agency police corruption investigators and to explore how they construct and maintain identity in the face of pervasive occupational stigma. The primary data collection method for the research was in depth interviewing of the target population. A narrative inquiry method was adopted as a medium for examination of the narratives so obtained.

Whilst organisational and police culture was the first of the theoretical frames for this research, of equal importance in answering the research questions was the theoretical concept of "dirty work" (Hughes, 1958, p. 122), and how the taint associated with this work is managed through a process known as "normalisation" (Ashforth & Kreiner, 1999; 2002, p. 217). The normalisation strategies identified in this research are consistent with predictions from the literature and include reframing, adaptation, diffusing, recalibrating and refocusing. In examining these issues, I identified two typologies of police corruption investigator: the Careerist and the Opportunist. Careerists represent a changing of the guard; the transition from street cop to management, and shows that the individual is able to cast aside the semblances of police culture in an attempt to prove worthy of career progression. The Opportunist typology refers to a specific way of responding to job opportunities which involve self-interest, whilst turning their back on the principles, culture and shared camaraderie of the police organisations from which they emerged.

This study supports previous research in identifying embedded traditions of police culture amongst police corruption investigators and supports notions of permanence of character which critics of police investigating police embrace. However, the findings of this research are that the Careerists and the Opportunists provide a hedge against occupational alignment. Indeed, the outcomes of this research support the hypothesis that no other group could, or should be considered for this type of investigative work.

Finally, this study recommends that anti-corruption agencies realise and perceive their own institutional limitations; specifically, that investigative bodies heavily dominated by an excessively legalistic approach may not be the best vehicle for uncovering police corruption.

FoR codes (2008)

160205 Police Administration, Procedures and Practice, 160206 Private Policing and Security Services, 160504 Crime Policy, 189999 Law and Legal Studies not elsewhere classified



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.