– Members’ research

Would you like to share your research project - whether it's completed or a work in progress?

Here are a couple to start us off:

Abstract: Everyday life under death threat
An exploratory study of the experiences of police officers who served in the Royal Ulster Constabulary through the “Troubles”

The experience of death threat was a common, ongoing and long-term feature in the lives of police officers and their families during the forty-year period of the “Troubles”. This qualitative investigation explores the current threat context for PSNI and former RUC officers in Northern Ireland (review of media context), the impact of personal threat on RUC officers (qualitative case profile questionnaire) and identifies core service provision, needs and personal coping strategies (semi-structured interviews with support service providers).

The study has defined, developed and tested a multi-dimensional framework for understanding the impact of death threat. A provisional threat impact framework was developed on the basis of emerging themes identified in the media context review and variables identified in the service provider interviews; it was tested against the lived experiences of officers evidenced in the case profile data.

The Threat Impact Framework identifies key strategies and factors to be considered in evaluating and managing threat impact on individuals. These include the extent of hyper-vigilant behaviours and appraisals; perceptions and mis-perceptions of the threat; related “near-miss” experiences of physical attack; the individual’s “invincibility shield” control – raised or crashed; loss and trauma; presence or absence of support networks and normalisation. In the immediate aftermath of the threat, appraisal and response are key factors. Personal beliefs, identity and the attribution of meaning to the threat experience are key factors in addressing and managing the threat in the longer term.

The study raises questions about the consequences of belonging to a threatened community for former RUC officers’ self-perception, individual and group identity. At a strategic and policy level, the impact of political, organisational and policy decisions on individuals’ ability to manage the threat is considered, together with service development, availability and accessibility.

To hear more about this, please contact Sharon Campbell Clarke at

What are the attitudes of ex-military personnel, who have joined the police service, towards seeking help with mental health problems?

Members of the uniformed services, military and police, represent one of the highest risk occupational groups when it comes to exposure to psychologically traumatic incidents. This is reflected in this population’s prevalence rates of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other indicators of mental illness. However, when it comes to seeking support and treatment for PTSD, this population is less likely to access mental health services. One of the main barriers to care is stigma and this research aims to discover how the identity and culture of uniformed services personnel impacts on their decision to seek or avoid treatment. Many ex-military personnel choose to stay in the uniformed services by joining the police service. The interface between police work and individuals with mental health problems adds another dimension to social stereotypes and mental health stigma. The research aims to dig deeper into these issues of stigma and identity by using qualitative research with ex-military personnel who are now serving police officers. It is hoped that lessons will be learnt that can assist in reducing barriers to care for this population.
Enquiries can be directed to Liz Royle at

– Members’ research