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Investigating fatal police shootings using the human factors analysis and classification framework (HFACS)

Published onFeb 12, 2021
Investigating fatal police shootings using the human factors analysis and classification framework (HFACS)
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Investigating fatal police shootings using the human factors analysis and classification framework (HFACS)
Description

Fatal police shootings are highly contentious and troublesome for normative standards of police legitimacy. Fatal police shooting investigations are often criticised because they lack impartiality, transparency and rigour. To assist policing practitioners and policymakers in the UK and beyond with managing these issues, we present a new analytical framework for investigating fatal policing shootings. We re-contextualise Shappell and Wiegmann’s ‘Human Factors Analysis and Classification System’ (HFACS) to test whether HFACS can be used during fatal police shootings investigations to identify contributory human factors. This study used HFACS to qualitatively analyse three high-profile fatal police shooting case-studies in the UK: (i) Jean Charles de Menezes in 2005; (ii) Azelle Rodney in 2005; and (iii) Mark Duggan in 2011. The results show that HFACS is a useful analytical framework. HFACS can be used to identify human factors and failures not discoverable by current methods for investigating fatal police shootings. We also offer the first empirical insights and contribute a more nuanced understanding of using HFACS to investigate fatal police shootings. We conclude by suggesting there are high-level and operational benefits in using HFACS and recommend avenues for further research to test HFACS in other policing contexts beyond the UK.

 

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