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‘They wanna be us’; PCSO performances, uniforms, and struggles for acceptance.

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>31/07/2019
<mark>Journal</mark>Policing and Society: An International Journal of Research and Policy
Issue number7
Number of pages16
Pages (from-to)854-869
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date27/03/19
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Police community support officers (PCSOs) in England and Wales have become an integral part of neighbourhood policing since their national roll-out in 2008. The research reported here is based on the first-hand accounts of PCSOs from a four-month ethnographic study in a northern police force. Using Erving Goffman’s theoretical framework and concept of performances, this paper argues that PCSOs still face ongoing pressures from inside the organisation to defend their position to police colleagues. PCSOs are still experiencing negative and bullying attitudes toward their existence and document the difficulties they face in being accepted. In response to this, some PCSOs have been known to conceal their status by modifying their uniform and using a current desire for increased visibility to enable presentational strategies in image management.