Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Ethics and considering the risks of de-sensitization

McCartan, Kieran


Kieran McCartan
Professor in Sociology and Criminology



Ethical practice is nothing new for those who work in the criminal justice sector and policing has its own Code of Ethics within which police practice is framed. The ethical practices required by social researchers are of similar ilk, ensuring the researcher follows a process of moral practice, protecting participants and the credence of any study. In this chapter McCartan draws upon his experience of researching those most vulnerable in our society, whether victims of serious crime or indeed, those who perpetrate such crime. He asks the reader to consider the risks associated with any research that involves either cohort or any topic of interest that is sensitive in nature. He takes them through the ethical approval process, why it is required and what it entails. Lastly, he asks the reader to consider their own position in relation to working with their chosen participants, how to negate the bias of desensitisation with the sensitivity needed to conduct meaningful and ‘safe’ data collection from those who may experience inadvertent trauma or a sense of revictimisation; what McCartan refers to as a ‘balancing act’.


McCartan, K. (2023). Ethics and considering the risks of de-sensitization. In A. Eason (Ed.), The Police Officers Guide to Academic Research (73-89). United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan.

Acceptance Date May 31, 2022
Online Publication Date Jan 1, 2023
Publication Date Jan 1, 2023
Deposit Date Sep 30, 2022
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Pages 73-89
Book Title The Police Officers Guide to Academic Research
Chapter Number Chapter 5
ISBN 9783031192852
Keywords Ethics, De-sensitization, Police, Policing, Vulnerability; Research Questions; Risk
Public URL
Publisher URL
Related Public URLs