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Achieving cultural change through organizational justice: The case of stop and search in Scotland

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    Rights statement: The final version of this paper has been published in Criminology and Criminal Justice by SAGE Publications Ltd, All rights reserved. ©Elizabeth Aston, Kath Murray, Megan O’Neill, 2019. It is available at: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1748895819839751

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Original languageEnglish
Article number174889581983975
JournalCriminology and Criminal Justice
Early online date27 Mar 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Mar 2019


In recent years, the scale, impact and legality of stop and search in Scotland has been subject to intense critical scrutiny, leading to major legal and policy reform in 2016. Based on these events, including an early unsuccessful attempt by Police Scotland to reform the tactic (the ‘Fife Pilot’), this article presents original theoretical and empirical insights into organizational change in policing. Building on the theoretical perspectives of Chan and Bradford and Quinton on organizational culture and justice respectively, the article sets out a dynamic model of organizational justice in policing. While Scotland has seen significant legislative reform apropos stop and search, we conclude that real change in police practice and culture will require effective leadership and a strong commitment to organizational justice. We also suggest how insights from the analysis might be applied to other jurisdictions and policing fields, with a view to securing more citizen-focused, democratic policing.

    Research areas

  • cultural change, organizational change, organizational justice, police culture, stop and search

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