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Published on October 19th, 2012

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The Law Enforcing Social Scientists: Reforming Danish Policing

Policing is one of society’s most important areas, however, most people do not immediately know about the link between the social sciences and policing. We have had a chat with Erik Vand of the State National Police Force of Denmark about the ongoing reforms in the police sector and how they relate to the fields of psychology and sociology.

Major Erik Vand

Police Major Erik Vand has been in the Danish for 20 years, 10 years as a regular police officer on the streets of Copenhagen, and 10 years as a leader in the State National Police Force. He has been given the task of leading the reformation of the Danish Police Academy.

Policing and social science

There are sundry links between policing and social science. Psychology is a consistent theme when it comes to the work of police officers. Policing means working with mental disorders, drug addicts, and cases involving children, all of which requires knowledge about the mind of people. This is the world that police officers face on the streets, and one of the aims of the reform is to bring this reality into the police academy. In other words, to merge the world of policing and the world that is out there with the people.

Sociology is also a highly relevant topic for the police academy, as it deals with concepts like power, ethics, and democracy. It fits like a hand in glove to this new wider approach to policing.

The Danish police reform

The police education has historically been organized as a sort of guild, with relatively little focus on the theoretical and analytical aspects of policing. Even though the field of psychology has been an essential part of policing, the Danish State National Police wishes to modernize its education and make it more similar in structure to other higher educations.

However, as Vand stresses, it is important that it does not become too theoretical and far from the reality of the streets. One also needs to focus on those parts of science that are useful in everyday policing.

The current academy reform led by Erik Vand is one of the largest and most complex in the history of the Danish police force. Policing is now becoming a professional three-year bachelor study, comparable to those of nursing and teaching. It will also qualify for related Master programs, like that of Police Science at Aalborg University, and further for doctoral positions.

The model outlined by Erik Vand consists of five modules within the bachelor period:

  1. 33 weeks in school, with a theoretical focus, in order to receive necessary certifications.

  2. 22 weeks of police work in their respective assigned districts.

  3. 22 more weeks of theory.

  4. 22 weeks of police work with a focus on investigation.

  5. 22 weeks of theory and an additional 11 weeks of work with their bachelor thesis.

Following the reform sociologists and philosophers are employed by the police to develop the curriculum. The teaching will consist of team-based work including both police officers and psychologists. The police reform of Denmark is a prime example of how social science has an important place in of the oldest and most important professions of ours society.

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