My thesis focuses on encounters between police officers and alleged victims at the scene of domestic abuse incidents. Specifically, I am interested in the discursive negotiation of social relations during the course of police-victim interactions. Interpersonal work at the scene has the potential to determine how the incident continues to unfold, both in the immediate context of the call-out and in the wider context of the legal process. Yet communication can be complicated by officers’ institutional obligations and restrictions, along with the sensitivities around interacting with vulnerable witnesses.
The study will draw from a relatively new policing technology, body worn video (BWV), which has opened the door to previously inaccessible research data. Conversation Analysis of BWV footage will be informed by ethnographic research involving both police and lay participants.
My project is motivated by the belief that a more contextualised and nuanced understanding of these pivotal interactions could inform the improvement of services provided by the police and other agencies to those affected by domestic abuse.