Drug policing in China: drug laws, police culture, and police professionalisation
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date17/05/2024
The Chinese government has made efforts to professionalise the police and make legal reforms concerning the treatment of drug users. However, when legal changes were evaluated by some scholars (Chu, 2015; Yao, 2016), there was little empirical study as to how drug laws were enforced in reality and how successful the anti-drug police professionalisation was. Plus, as police culture is frequently used to explain police practice (Garland, 2001; Fielding, 1984; Beletsky, Macalino, & Burris, 2005; Benson, 2001; Z. Chen, 2016; Goldsmith, 1990; Jiao, 2001; Marks, Howell, & Shelly, 2016; Paoline & Terrill, 2005; Wood Report, 1997; Reiner, 2010), little attention has been paid to an explanation of the inconsistency between a particular police culture and its corresponding practice. To fill in these gaps, I conducted participant observation of two Anti-Drug Squads and one Anti-Drug Corps in Jixiang City and interviewed twenty-six anti-drug police officers and two Narcotics Control Officers (NCOs). Participants came from three different generations of anti-drug police officers with different administrative statuses, academic backgrounds, and guanxi networks (connections). Data was coded and analysed using thematic analysis. The data chapters of the thesis begin with the introduction of guanxi and illustrate how it interacts with frontline policing and affects police professionalisation. Then, I evaluate the changes resulting in stricter supervision of officers and knowledge acquisition methods, as a result of police professionalisation. I, additionally, highlight the importance of craft-based knowledge in policing. Next, I identify and analyse educational, structural, and cultural challenges to police professionalisation and attempt to understand police culture by incorporating the ‘agency’ of police officers with regard to cultural acceptance, rejection, and development. After pointing out the possible side effects of police professionalisation, I demonstrate the cultural differences and conflicts between three generations of police officers and argue that professional competence has become a new source of power that has disrupted the traditional system of power dominated by seniority, guanxi, and administrative status within police organisations, which can potentially contribute to police professionalisation. Hopefully, this thesis can shed light on anti-drug police reform — reducing the harm to drug users and promoting the quality rather than quantity of drug control.
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