n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Developing cynicism among male and female recruits in the South African Police Service

Special Edition 2
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



This article deals broadly with the efforts to transform the South African Police Service (SAPS) post-1994. One of the aspects of these transformation initiatives was the implementation of a national policy of ensuring gender equity in the make-up of the Service in order to become more representative of the larger South African society. In particular the article focuses on a preliminary investigation of the police culture theme of cynicism and its development over time regarding several dimensions of the construct among male and female SAPS recruits entering basic police training at police colleges across South Africa in January of 2005 and changes that may have occurred in these attitudes over the period of the six-month basic training and the subsequent six-month field training experience. More specifically, the study looked at possible differences in the presence of, and / or changes in, attitudes of male and female recruits and implications for substantive change in the culture of the SAPS. Using a panel design, 1 485 recruits were presented with a ten-item questionnaire employing five-point Likert-scale response options ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree on a range of questions related to attitudes regarding police and community relations, respect for police, citizen honesty, and citizen willingness to assist other citizens in trouble. Follow-up surveys of 1 168 recruits at the end of their basic training six months later, as well as 870 recruits at the conclusion of field training at the end of one year were also obtained. Results indicated the presence of a generalized pessimism or cynicism on the overall scale, in addition to increasing cynicism at both post-test times. Furthermore, differences between male and female recruits were observed on several of the measures with female recruits having higher levels of cynicism compared to male recruits. Cynicism increased in both groups although at a lower rate of change for females. Implications for the community-policing model in the SAPS are also discussed, especially regarding attitudes reflecting police-citizen trust and cooperation.

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