This paper is a synopsis of “Changing Police Culture, A Critical Dialogue Project”, Morrow, D., Mc Allister, B., Campbell, J. ,and Wilson, D A., an Unpublished Report of a Ten Year Programme of mediated dialogues around policing and community relations in Northern Ireland carried out by Mediation Northern Ireland and a charitably funded University of Ulster Action Research Programme, Future Ways. In undertaking the work we committed ourselves then to not publishing the material until there was a considerable time distance. The programme was funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, the Ireland Funds and the United States Information Agency (USIA) with support from the Northern Ireland Office and the Republic of Ireland Government.Especially in the context of crisis where change is inevitable, safe space for change is defined as places where dilemmas can be honestly surfaced, contradictory impulses acknowledged and explored and practical ways to both support and enable change can be identified. : Opportunities for people from very opposed backgrounds to meet together can generate the room in which people, and their institutions, can re-orientate priorities and gain new courage and freedom to change their practice and structures. More importantly the absence of these opportunities may be a crucial deficit in change processes which are understood as purely technical without reference to their emotional, political and intellectual aspects.In a highly politicised environment, many are vested in particular structures and outcomes. All those who initiate and participate in such work run a risk that the interests of others and the consequences in relationships will overpower any simple good intentions. Coping with jealousy, envy, rivalry, and antagonism are important aspects of this work. In a command and control organisation, opportunities for leaders to acknowledge ‘not knowing’, to rectify the deficit, to have dilemmas acknowledged and owned by others and complexity understood are vital. Without the deliberate creation of such opportunities, however they are easily overlooked. In the absence of real meeting in day-to-day life, such meetings need promoted and engineered, without them no peace processes would begin or conclude. When opportunities to meet and explore at depth succeed, the resulting insights and opportunities are paradoxically the opposite of artificial. Indeed, they are transformational in at least three dimensions: personal development and growth; a new honesty in professional relationships with people from whom important debates and issues have been hidden in the context of hierarchy, organizational culture and/or rivalry and they give practical insights into possibilities for change through which structures become more open and accommodating to those they have been estranged from. The presence of outsiders in the group and the permission granted by them and their contract with the organization to ask questions is critical to this new dynamic.
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- Law and Order
- Community Policing