Doing research with police elites in Ghana
Criminology and Criminal Justice
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Sowatey, E., & Tankebe, J. (2019). Doing research with police elites in Ghana. Criminology and Criminal Justice, 19 (5), 537-553. https://doi.org/10.1177/1748895818787022
Much of our methodological insights from research on policing in sub-Saharan Africa come from studies of frontline officers. Consequently, many important methodological questions about research on senior police officers remain unanswered. This article addresses this gap by drawing on insights from interviewing senior officers in Ghana. It focuses on the challenges and opportunities in negotiating access, establishing trust during interviews, and dealing with ethical dilemmas. We highlight the role of informal social networks and cultural practices of surprised visits, what we termed strategic ambush, in securing formal approval for our research. However, this represented mere or putative access for which deference towards institutional gatekeepers was key to its actualisation. Deference towards officers and extensive knowledge of the policing environment helped to put the senior officers at ease, and enhanced the chances of a successful interview. Finally, we offer reflections on our responses to unexpected ethical dilemmas we faced in the field.
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1748895818787022
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/279756