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Tick-box culture is described as bureaucratic and external impositions on professional working conditions, which can be found in many organizations around the world. In social work, tick-box culture means there is too much emphasis on following rules instead of actually helping children. Tick-box culture is also studied as a contributing factor in a number of fields, such as education, criminal justice and medicine. Other synonymous terms include culture of performativity.
In the US criminal justice system, some performance measures appear to have more influence on outcomes than others, and police targets have led to the criminalization of greater numbers of children, while goals for reduction youth in detention remain unmet. In England, probation officers reportedly spend 75% of their time on red tape, and the tick-box culture was blamed for the growth in bureaucracy. In Europe, crime prevention is thought to have shifted away from reducing opportunities for money laundering towards an emphasis on the demonstration of compliance with systems and procedures (tick-box culture) with the expectation that they will prevent money laundering from occurring.
In England, in an effort to reduce tick box inspections, school inspections were greatly reduced and greater emphasis placed on professional judgement. In 2015, Theresa May stated that she wanted to stop the "tick box culture" of policing in England.
Tick-box culture in medicine is seen as a system increasingly engineered to medical technicians rather than to professionals. In Scotland, a study found that clinical audit are perceived by practitioners as time-consuming and a managerially driven exercise with no associated professional rewards. For example, a hospital in England was investigated over the death of young woman who was being monitored by hospital staff, the tick-box culture was blamed in part for the woman's death.
English commentators blamed tick-box culture for the outcome of several incidents in England.
- Cleland, Jennifer; Reeve, Joanne; Rosenthal, Joe; Johnston, Peter (2014). "Resisting the tick box culture: refocusing medical education and training". The British Journal of General Practice. 64 (625): 422–423. doi:10.3399/bjgp14X681169. ISSN 0960-1643. PMC 4111334. PMID 25071054.
- "'Tick box culture' for social workers needs to come to an end". 10 May 2011.
- Marshall, Bethan. "A crisis for efficacy?." Education Review 20, no. 1 (2007).
- Ball, Stephen J (2003). "The teacher's soul and the terrors of performativity". Journal of Education Policy. 18 (2): 215–228. doi:10.1080/0268093022000043065.
- Bateman, Tim. "‘Target practice’: sanction detection and the criminalisation of children: Tim Bateman sets out how police targets have led to the criminalisation of greater numbers of children and dispels the myth of a girl crime wave." Criminal justice matters 73, no. 1 (2008): 2-4.
- Travis, Alan; editor, home affairs (26 July 2011). "Probation officers spend 75% of time not dealing with offenders, report finds" – via The Guardian.
- Harvey, Jackie. "Controlling the flow of money or satisfying the regulators." The organised crime economy (2005): 43-64.
- Baxter, Jacqueline, and John Clarke. "Farewell to the tick box inspector? Ofsted and the changing regime of school inspection in England." Oxford Review of Education 39, no. 5 (2013): 702-718.
- Gannon, Craig (2005). "Will the lead clinician please stand up?". BMJ (Clinical Research Ed.). 330 (7493): 737. doi:10.1136/bmj.330.7493.737.
- Bowie, Paul; Bradley, Nicholas A.; Rushmer, Rosemary (2012). "Clinical audit and quality improvement–time for a rethink?". Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice. 18 (1): 42–48. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2753.2010.01523.x. PMID 21087366.
- "Hospital tick-box culture contributed to death of girl, 18".