The purpose of this paper is to add to the growing body of literature on police-academic partnerships,
which has emerged over the last thirty years. Using a multi-force and multi-site study of ‘good’
police custody practices, as a case study, we examine the cultures of police-academic partnerships
through the concepts of “ways of acting” and “ways of knowing” (Canter, 2004). In terms of ways
of acting, we examine differences that arose whilst forming police-academic relationships and
accessing multiple forces and custody facilities. In terms of ways of knowing, we examine differences
in academic and police theorization about police-citizen relationships. It is argued that
different ways of acting – rooted in the cultural, but also organisational and structural contexts of
policing and academia – created challenges for the research and for police-academic relationships.
By contrast, different ways of knowing contributed to helpful synergies between the two authors,
helping the police author to see his work anew and aiding the academic author with the theorization
process. One of the key lessons from this case study is that theory development should be seen
as foundational to, and as strengthening of, police-academic partnerships.