Community Policing in Scotland

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: School of Social & Political Sciences

Abstract

Partners:
The Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (SCCJR)
The Scottish Institute for Policing Research (SIPR)
Lothian and Borders Police (LBP)

KT team:
Simon Mackenzie, SCCJR (KT Fellow)
Alistair Henry, SIPR

Advisers:
Nick Fyfe, Director, SIPR
Richard Sparks, Director, SCCJR
Jon Bannister, SCCJR

The term 'community policing' covers a variety of different models of practice. In terms of the public experience of community policing, the common elements of the strategy tend to be: police foot patrols rather than vehicle patrols; community meetings attended by the police; beat officers who are assigned to a neighbourhood, who have responsibility for that area, and will be a point of contact for community relations in the area; and a problem-solving approach to local issues, often in partnership with other public services, which attempts to get to the root of local problems rather than simply responding to crime by arresting individual offenders.

Community policing is therefore a model distinct from the more usual 'response' or 'fire-brigade' policing whereby the police answer calls for service. Community policing is part of the service the police offer in Scotland, but they are still predominantly response-oriented. Scotland's forces do, however, recognise the significant successes and public popularity of community policing in other jurisdictions, and are moving towards expanding their provision of community policing, based on an identification of best practice in comparative models.

This knowledge transfer project involves academic criminologists working with the City of Edinburgh community police and their senior officers to identify and develop future directions for community policing in Scotland. The programme consists of a series of workshops, the results of which will be disseminated across Scotland's police forces, as well as UK-wide and internationally. These workshops will involve:

1. discussions of current community policing practice in Scotland, including implementation difficulties
2. exploration of the conceptual basis of community policing, and how the concept has been turned into practice in comparative jurisdictions (including identification of ambiguities in interpretation of the idea of community policing, and development of a focus on what is of core importance in the Scottish context, which will help in negotiating these ambiguities)
3. attempts to unravel and resolve current known problems in community policing in Scotland
4. identification of problems which are not widely known, and explorations of possible solutions to these problems
5. dissemination of key outcomes of the workshops throughout Scotland's police, and beyond.

Community policing if performed effectively can have considerable social benefits. These include reductions in crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour; increasing feelings of safety among members of the public; improvements in police-community relations; improvements in joined-up problem-solving approaches to neighbourhood problems between local councils, the police, and other agencies; and greatly increased opportunities for community members to become involved in influencing the policing agenda to meet their identified neighbourhood needs.

The transformational potential of the project is captured in Skogan's (2004) ten- year evaluation of Chicago's community policing strategy, which 'was intended to be transformational: that is, it was designed to change the way in which the entire department and even city government did its business... it weaves responsibility for problem solving into the daily routine of beat officers and integrates them into the fabric of the community. It created a mechanism by which the public can influence and monitor the work of officers in their neighbourhood... immensely popular with the public, community policing has become the routine way in which Chicagoans expect police services to be delivered.'

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description The project aimed to establish and develop collaborative practice and knowledge exchange between an academic team of criminologists and a city centre division of a major Scottish police force. Over the course of the three year project we engaged in a wide range of knowledge exchange activities, culminating in the third year in the development of 'the Edinburgh Police Research and Practice Group' (EPRPG). The EPRPG set up and hosted a series of twelve seminars and workshops in 2011, based around a collegial presentation-and-discussion format with attendance from a cross section of the Scottish public sector concerned with policing, including academics and council representatives as well as a wide range of attendance from the police themselves, from community beat officers to the chief constable. The EPRPG was the practical culmination of our investigations into the most effective knowledge exchange mechanism for bringing together the evidence base constituted by national and international policing research studies with the practical day to day concerns of the police as practitioners. We have also produced (and are continuing to produce) evidence summaries (e.g. an evidence review on community policing published through the Scottish Government), theoretical interpretations of the role of community policing in the wider contemporary policy landscape around steering and activating communities (e.g. presentations we have made on the concept of the 'security ritual' and a journal article in preparation setting out that orientation), and perhaps most importantly reflections on and development of the theory of knowledge 'transfer' or 'exchange' itself (see our article in Police Practice and Research). The project has therefore had an impact on the development of scientific approaches to knowledge exchange as well as a practical legacy for ourselves and our partner police agency through the continuation of the EPRPG and the further development, with some additional funding, of a high-level policy forum for knowledge exchange in policing by way of the 'executive sessions' model of collaboration.
Exploitation Route The project has been primarily about making research evidence more accessible to non-academic policing audiences, and the models of knowledge exchange we have developed and have set out in our project publications are of broad relevance to academics from many different disciplines seeking to collaborate with the police or similar organisations around the idea of increasing integration and two-way information flow between academic evidence and practice in policy-oriented public agencies.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Security and Diplomacy

 
Description The KE models we established in the course of this project were developed subsequently with the Scottish police through the establishment of the 'Edinburgh Executive Sessions' in which senior police, policy makers and national/international academics were invited to closed sessions to develop policy and practice around policing in Scotland. The remit broadened beyond the community policing focus in this project.
First Year Of Impact 2011
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Security and Diplomacy
Impact Types Policy & public services

 
Description Policy influence
Geographic Reach Asia 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Evidence reviews and theoretical papers for national government readership, and through the publication of the evidence review on community policing by the Scottish Government, which has achieved a wide international readership, we have become involved in the development of community policing research and policy in other countries at the invitation of local researchers. See our work with Swedish colleagues for an example, mentioned in the outputs reported here.
 
Description Community policing and the development of Safer Neighbourhood Teams in Lothian and Borders
Amount £6,000 (GBP)
Organisation Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research 
Department Scottish Institute for Policing Research
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2010 
End 12/2010
 
Description Community policing and the development of Safer Neighbourhood Teams in Lothian and Borders
Amount £6,000 (GBP)
Organisation Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research 
Department Scottish Institute for Policing Research
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2010 
End 07/2010
 
Description Police Executive Sessions Scotland: Implementing the Evidence
Amount £3,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of Edinburgh 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2012 
End 12/2012
 
Description KE stream in EPIC 
Organisation European Police research Institutes Collaboration (EPIC)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We are the invited co-ordinators of the Knowledge Exchange work stream in the European Police research Institutes Collaboration (EPIC). This involves developing KE theory and practice in policing research in a comparative and collaborative way with our European partners in the group.
Start Year 2010
 
Description Local policing in Stockholm 
Organisation Government of Sweden
Department Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention
Country Sweden 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution An invited exchange visit to Stockholm to collaborate with the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention in their study of community policing reform in the city. They have produced a report on this. We discussed comparative dimensions of community policing and gave presentations on our project to the Council and to the Stockholm County Police
Start Year 2011
 
Description Community policing in Edinburgh 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Lecture at the Edinburgh Police Research and Practice Group, at Edinburgh Police HQ

Further integration between project researchers and the police; more research opportunities arising.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Making sense of community policing: knowledge exchange and reform in Edinburgh 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation to the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention and the Stockholm County Police

This was a presentation in a comparative vein to Sweden's largest police force and the country's major criminological research centre. The aim was to inform the audience of the main features of the Scottish approach to community policing, as understood through our research. The result was further requests for involvement in continuing this process of comparative learning.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011