Everyday patrol work for a data-driven flying squad: Advancing theoretical thinking on police craftsmanship in interacting with civilians

Anthonie Drenth, R. van Steden

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


From the 1960s onwards, police scholars have accurately documented what patrol officers do when carrying out their job. Their work has been supplemented by miscellaneous publications on police culture, police working styles, and factors influencing police decision making. Although scholars do recognise the significance of professional freedom, what takes place within this discretionary space to manoeuvre has never been fully studied,, especially within the context of predictive policing. We aim to open up the ‘black box’ of police discretion by offering an empirical study on the everyday patrol work of a predictive policing flex-team (a kind of data-driven flying squad) in Amsterdam, the capital city of the Netherlands. Building on previous literature and on our own insights, we advance a theoretical model of police craftsmanship with particular interest in patrol officer-civilian encounters. This model consists of five, partly overlapping, routine actions: searching for relevant clues, defining a situation, anticipating a situation, dealing with civilians, and closing a situation. A deeper insight into such routines will enable patrol officers to reflect on what ‘good policing’ entails and how to further professionalise their occupation against the complex backdrop of micro-grid crime prevention technology.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Crime and Justice
Publication statusPublished - 2020



  • Police craftsmanship
  • discretionary space
  • predictive policing

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