Understanding and Managing Professional Distance

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Also known in some professions as professional boundaries, professional distance refers to an obligation (or set of obligations) that derives from the nature of the professional role. More specifically, it refers to particular obligations that professionals have to ensure that their professional relationships with clients aren't compromised qua professional relationships. Of course, many things can compromise professional relationships: the professional putting his/her needs before the client's needs; a lack of impartiality on the part of the professional; and any actions of the professional that compromise the client's trust in them. Professional distance is concerned with a sub-set of the things that can (but need not) compromise professional relationships, viz., a sub-set relating to personal relationships that exist in addition to a professional relationship.In the policing context, there are many areas in which professional distance issues can occur. These include between police and victims, between police of different ranks, and between police trainers and police recruits. Some of these areas (eg. where police of different ranks have both a personal and professional relationship with each other) are specific to the policing context, having no precise parallels in other professions.In this chapter, I will outline the reasons why professionals have obligations in relation to professional distance, and detail why breaches of this obligation are wrong. I will then focus the rest of the chapter on various issues surrounding the management of professional distance, including what sorts of restrictions managers can justifiably impose on their staff. Throughout this discussion, issues specific to the context of police work will be identified and resolved.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of police administration
EditorsJames Ruiz, Don Hummer
Place of PublicationBoca Raton, USA
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781420016987
ISBN (Print)9781574445596
Publication statusPublished - 2007


Dive into the research topics of 'Understanding and Managing Professional Distance'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this