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On Dangerous Research: The Fate of a Study of the Police in Norway (From Crime Prevention and Intervention: Legal and Ethical Problems P 273-286, 1989, Peter-Alexis Albrecht and Otto Backes, eds.)

NCJ Number
T Mathiesen
Date Published
14 pages
The orientation of prevention and intervention towards the future and towards the control of entire categories of people easily leads to the wavering of due process.
A 1981 investigation into police violence in Bergen (Norway) angered police and the conservative establishment. The newspapers, dominated by a conservative paper, came out in favor of the police accusing the researchers of lying. The controversy reached a national level, and the Minister of Justice appointed an investigative committee consisting of two lawyers, one sympathetic to each side. The committee took the side of the researchers and were accused by police and press of attempting to damage the reputation of the police. The researchers then sued a town newspaper for libel and lost. By 1987, many victims and witnesses had moderated or withdrawn their statements, and those who maintained their statements could not convince police that any crimes had been committed. One of the researchers and a witness were later arrested and continued to be harassed. Several general characteristics of Norway can be attributed for this sequence of events: 1) it is a small country and can easily unify around certain issues, 2) it has a long and strong social-democratic tradition, 3) it has a tradition of impeccable State bureaucracy, 4) it has experienced increased interweaving of social classes, and 5) it views conflict as undesirable. 5 references.