Time for change in police culture : putting human rights at the centre of policing
Pastor Alonso, Sara
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Police have the power to both protect and breach human rights. The purpose of international standards for policing is to leverage the positive connections between policing and human rights, and to minimise potential negative clashes between the two concepts (abuse of power, discriminatory treatment, arbitrariness). This can only be achieved by enacting a significant change in police culture. Holding that a human rights-based approach to policing is needed, this thesis argues that in order to have an impact on police behaviour patterns, international standards have to be implemented through comprehensive models aimed at putting human rights at the centre of policing, particularly through training and accountability measures. Through a parallel analysis of how these two elements are implemented in Spain and Northern Ireland, this thesis offers a guide for the identification of shortcomings and good practices in police training and accountability. Noting that a change in police culture faces multiple challenges at different levels, and taking into account the key role of civil society in the process, this thesis also proposes ways forward based on strategies of persuasion and mutual understanding between police and civil society organisations (CSOs), since true change will only come with the conviction of police officers that the protection of human rights is at the core of their job.