Leaving ‘home’? Belonging, break-up, and becoming in the police family

Colin Atkinson, Kath Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article considers the impact of police merger processes on officers and staff. The Railway Policing (Scotland) Act 2017 legislated that the Scottish functions and personnel of the British Transport Police (BTP) would be integrated into Scotland’s national police force. The journey towards this destination, however, has been protracted, problematic, and now appears to be indefinitely postponed. Demonstrating the limits of the ‘police family’ our research provides important policy insights, demonstrating how a failure to account for distinct organisational cultures and occupational identities can damage the legitimacy of police mergers. Using data from a survey of BTP officers and staff in Scotland we present our findings across three themes: belonging; break-up; and becoming. We refract these findings through Bourdieusian theory.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalThe British Journal of Criminology; An International Review of Crime and Society
Publication statusPublished - 9 Oct 2020


  • railway policing
  • police merger
  • police family
  • culture
  • Scottish policing


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