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  • Organisational barriers and facilitators to the effective operation of

    Random Breath Testing (RBT) in Queensland

    Susan Hart

    Bachelor of Arts (Honours)

    A thesis submitted as fulfilment for the Degree of Masters of Applied Science


    Queensland University of Technology

    Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety Queensland

    Brisbane, Australia.


  • i

    Key Words

    Random breath testing, drink driving, enforcement, road safety, deterrence,

    organisational alignment.

  • ii


    Random breath testing (RBT) is one of the most successful drink driving

    countermeasures employed by police in Australia. Its success over the years has been

    evidenced by reductions in drink driving behaviour, reductions in alcohol-related

    crashes and fatal crashes and a corresponding community-wide increase in the

    disapproval of drink driving. Although a great deal of research has been able to

    highlight the relationship between increased police enforcement and road safety

    benefits, little is known about the organisational factors that assist or hinder the

    management and operation of RBT. The purpose of this thesis is to explore the

    perceived barriers and facilitators to the effective operation of RBT in the

    Queensland Police Service (QPS). Findings will have human resource implications

    for the QPS and will highlight areas that are currently functioning effectively.

    Study One involved 22 semi-structured interviews with 36 QPS managers

    involved in the day-to-day organisation and delivery of RBT operations. Managers

    were recruited with assistance from members of the QPSs State Traffic Support

    Branch. The interviews were approximately one hour long and involved exploration

    of the perceptions of managers involved in the planning and delivery of RBT

    operations using the concept of organisational alignment to structure the interviews.

    The results revealed that RBT management activity is facilitated by a range of

    factors, including: the belief in the importance of RBT; belief that the purpose of

    RBT has both a deterrent function and a detection function; the increasing use of

    intelligence to guide RBT strategies; the increasing use of RBT to support other

    crime reduction strategies; and a genuine desire to improve the current state of

    affairs. However, a number of apparent barriers to the effective operation of RBT

    were identified. These included concern about the strategy of the 1.1 testing strategy

    (i.e. conducting the equivalent of one test per licensed driver per annum), a

    misunderstanding of the role of general and specific deterrence and a lack of

    feedback in relation to the success of RBT.

    The second study involved a questionnaire that was distributed to a random

    sample of 950 operational police stratified across the regions who are responsible for

    undertaking RBT on a regular basis. There were 421 questionnaires returned

    representing a response rate of 44%. Questionnaires were also based on the concepts

    and constructs of organisational alignment and explored perceptions, beliefs and self-

  • iii

    reported behaviour of officers. The results revealed that facilitating factors included a

    belief in QPS ownership of the RBT program, the agreement that the RBT vision

    includes road safety goals and apprehension goals, and overall motivation, support

    and belief in their capability to carry out RBT duties. Barriers included perceived

    strain related to the 1:1 testing strategy, the lack of feedback in relation to the success

    of RBT, misunderstanding about the role of deterrence and lack of rewards for

    participating in RBT duties.

    The results of both studies have implications for the planning and operation

    of RBT in the QPS. While the findings revealed that there were many aspects of the

    RBT program that were currently aligned with best practice guidelines, there are

    areas of misalignment. In particular, the main areas of misalignment included

    concern about the strain caused by the current 1:1 testing strategy, a lack of feedback

    about the success of RBT and a lack of education of the nature and role of deterrence

    in road safety and RBT operations in particular.

  • iv

    Table of Contents

    Key Words i

    Abstract ii

    Table of Contents iv

    List of Figures viii

    List of Tables ix

    Glossary of terms and Acronyms x

    Statement of Original Authorship xi

    Acknowledgements xii

    Chapter One: Introduction 1

    1.1 Introduction 2 1.2 Rationale for the research 3 1.3 Theoretical framework for the research 4 1.4 Research aim and tasks 5 1.5 Parameters of research 6 1.6 Structure of thesis 7

    Chapter Two: Literature review 9

    2.1 Introduction 10

    2.2 Best practice features of RBT 10 2.2.1 Background and evolution of the current RBT strategy 10 2.2.2 The role of deterrence 13 Historical and theoretical overview 13 Deterrence and road safety 14 RBT and police enforcement 16

    2.2.3 The instability of deterrence 17 2.2.4 The role of targeted operations 19 2.2.5 The perceived problem with RBT 20 2.2.6 Conclusions of the best practice literature 22 2.3 Organisational management and performance 22 2.3.1 The application of private sector principles to the public sector 22 2.3.2 Market orientation in the police services 23 2.3.3 Using a systems theory approach 25 2.3.4 Organisational alignment 26 2.3.5 The value of the alignment model 29

  • v

    2.4 The organisational setting 30 2.4.1 Traffic policing strategy in the QPS 32 2.4.2 The role of the State Traffic Support Branch and RBT 33

    2.5 Aim of research program 34 2.5.1 Research questions 35 2.5.2 Adapting the alignment model for the examination of RBT in the QPS 37

    Chapter Three: Semi-structured interviews with police managers (Study One)


    3.1 Introduction 43 3.2 Method 43

    3.2.1 Background 43 3.2.2 Sample 45 3.2.3 Procedure 45 3.2.4 Analysis of data 46

    3.3 Results 46 3.3.1 Environment 46 3.3.2 Vision, values and purpose 47 3.3.3 Strategy 48 3.3.4 Culture 51 3.3.5 Structure and systems 51 Staffing and rostering 51 RBT data 52 Equipment 52 Vehicles 53 Feedback 54 Technology and intelligence 54 Training and education 55 3.3.6 Rewards 56 3.3.7 Practices 56 3.3.8 Performance capability 58 3.3.9 Suggestions 59

    3.4 Discussion 59 3.5 Chapter summary 61

    Chapter Four: Questionnaire of operational police 634.1 Introduction 65 4.2 Method 66

    4.2.1 Background 66 4.2.2 Participants 66

    4.2.3 Materials 66 Questionnaire 66

    4.2.4 Procedure 68 Focus group 68 Questionnaire 68

  • vi

    4.2.5 Statistical analyses 68 4.3 Results 69 4.3.1 Descriptive data 69 4.3.2 Alignment constructs 70 Environment 70 Vision, values and purpose 71 Strategy 73 Culture 75 Structure and systems 75 Rewards 77 Practices 78 Behaviour 80 Performance capability 82

    4.3.3 Open-ended questions and additional comments 83 4.4 Discussion 86 4.4.1 Alignment constructs 86 Environment 86 Vision, values and purpose 86 Strategy 88 Culture 88 Structure and systems 89 Rewards 90 Practices 91 Behaviour 92 Performance capability 92 4.4.2 Concluding comments 93

    Chapter Five: Discussion 94

    5.1 Introduction 95 5.2 Review of findings 95

    5.2.1 Summary of overall findings 95 5.2.2 Research questions and explanations of findings 96 Environment 97 Vision, values and purpose 98 Strategy 99 Culture 100 Structure and systems 101 Rewards 102 Practices 103 Behaviour 103 Performance capability 104 5.3 Implications of findings 105 5.3.1 Theoretical implications 105 5.3.2 Applied implications 107

  • vii Implications for managers 107 Operational implications 108 5.4 Strengths and limitations of research 109 5.5 Future directions 111

    Reference List 113

    Appendices 127

    A Semi-structured interview information sheet used in Study One 128

    B Examples of questions/issues discussed in semi-structured interviews (Study One)


    C QPS managers suggestions for improvements to RBT operations reported in Study One


    D Focus group protocol used in Study Two 132

    E Questionnaire information/consent sheet used in Study Two 134

    F Questionnaire for operational members Study Two 135

    G Sample characteristics for Study Two 139

    H Questionnaire results percentages for agreement statements in Study Two 141

  • viii