Critical police incidents and organisational learning: developing a conceptual framework for analysis

Masters Thesis

Mowle, Timothy P.. 2021. Critical police incidents and organisational learning: developing a conceptual framework for analysis. Masters Thesis Master of Professional Studies (Research). University of Southern Queensland.

Critical police incidents and organisational learning: developing a conceptual framework for analysis

TypeMasters Thesis
AuthorMowle, Timothy P.
Supervisorvan der Laan, Luke
Trimmer, Karen
Fergusson, Lee
Baker, Shayne
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameMaster of Professional Studies (Research)
Number of Pages149
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

The greatest challenge the Queensland Police Service (QPS) faces is to maintain effective policing in a complex environment dictated by rising demand, finite resources, and increasing safety risks to the community and its workforce. Of concern is the increase in violent confrontations that result in police using lethal force. As these incidents continue to rise, there is a corresponding need for the QPS to develop an effective method to critically analyse the actions of officers and demonstrate continuous improvement as a contemporary learning organisation. Therefore, the primary aim of this research was to investigate the common themes that contribute to critical police incidents and the barriers and enablers of organisational learning, and provide evidence if there are benefits to the QPS in developing a Framework to analyse critical police incidents.

Literature relevant to the research was explored with a focus on organisational learning as the primary discipline. Such an approach it was proposed would provide insight into ‘barriers and enablers’ and ‘benefits and value’ and was used, in part, to inform the construct of the Framework.

The research adopted a mixed-methods approach that is largely qualitative in design, with two separate phases: a minor quantitative and qualitative phase, leading to a major qualitative phase. Quantitative analysis of QPS data describes the extent of critical police incidents within the QPS, including the geographical relationships of incidents and future trends. Qualitative analysis of six QPS shooting incidents was then combined with the literature review, plus the researcher’s inside knowledge of QPS systems and processes attained from working in the organisation over an extended period of time in numerous specialised roles, to develop the Framework. A case study analysis of five coronial inquests was subsequently conducted and applied to the Framework to test its efficacy. Various components of the Framework were shown to mirror the coronial process, while thematic analysis revealed the existence of similar primary and subordinate themes. A time comparison revealed an average wait time of three years two months for coronial findings while the Framework would deliver interim findings within two months and final findings within ten months. The significance of these findings is that they show the Framework would result in similar outcomes to the coroner, however these would be delivered much sooner and thereby enable the QPS to identify lessons and effect change expeditiously.

It can therefore be argued that the research might contribute to the professional practice of policing in Queensland, and other potential jurisdictions, by emphasising the benefit in developing and implementing a novel and repeatable process to analyse critical police incidents, identifying lessons, and effecting change in line with the increasing demands of a contemporary police environment and community expectations.

Keywordscritical incident, critical police incident, incident analysis, incident analysis framework, conceptual framework
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020440211. Police administration, procedures and practice
Byline AffiliationsFaculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts
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