Learning policing in rural spaces: 'Covering 12 foot rooms with 8 foot carpets'



Fenwick T (2015) Learning policing in rural spaces: 'Covering 12 foot rooms with 8 foot carpets'. Policing, 9 (3), pp. 234-241.

While research on the unique challenges of rural policing is increasing, these challenges are still under-recognised by accepted models of best practice or by policing supervisors and trainers, policy makers, and the public. This article reports a study of policing that set out to trace not only the unique knowledge and skills required in rural areas, but also the learning undertaken by officers to develop these capacities. These understandings can be used to provide more effective support for policing education and professional learning. The study itself involved individual and group interviews held with 34 police officers ranging in rank and working in diverse locations of northern rural Scotland: islands, highlands, towns and villages. The demands of rural policing identified in the findings, and the strategies that officers developed to meet these demands, were organised into four sections. The first is thebroad range of crimethat rural officers must confront, and their own vulnerability as they often feel very much on their own. Second is the requirement forcontinual negotiation with the community, through interactions ranging from the mundane to the threatening, with individuals and with groups. Third is the challenge of balancing a double role:being ‘in’ the community or ‘of’ the community. Finally, the issues of leadership are described in terms of understanding the unique challenges of rural policing.

professional learning; rural policing; policing education; community policing

Policing: Volume 9, Issue 3

Publication date30/09/2015
Publication date online06/06/2015
PublisherOxford University Press

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Professor Tara Fenwick

Professor Tara Fenwick

Emeritus Professor, Education