Community policing and reassurance: Three studies, one narrative


Hamilton-Smith N, Mackenzie S, Henry A & Davidones C (2014) Community policing and reassurance: Three studies, one narrative. Criminology and Criminal Justice, 14 (2), pp. 160-178.

Drawing on data from three separate studies of community policing (CP) in Scotland this article identifies common themes in the practice of contemporary CP. First, following in the wake of the global financial crisis, we have an austerity drive with cuts to policing budgets setting the context in which CP practice is now negotiated. Second all three studies evidence an increasingly entrenched performance management framework for policing which exerts pressures on beat officers to depart from established, valued and often ‘unmeasurable' activities within CP practice. Third, we see the depletion of the traditional ‘tools of the trade' of CP as new recruits, lacking the skills of the traditional beat officer, are assigned CP functions, while mentoring opportunities for supporting their professional development become increasingly inadequate. Finally, the idea of reassurance as a core policing goal has informed the re-organization of Scotland's main police forces towards models which purport to increase CP numbers, visibility and public engagement. In the context of the preceding three themes however, these re-inventions of CP have been problematic in various ways: conflicted, superficial and unconnected to developments in policing and procedural justice theory around legitimacy and public confidence. Indeed, we will argue that given the formal increase in public-facing CP numbers across the sites examined here, the procedural justice perspective, with its focus on the quality of police-public encounters, has real potential to enhance the efficacy of CP in Scotland.

Community policing; confidence; legitimacy; procedural justice; reassurance policing; recession; signal crimes ; Bumblebees;Bumblebees Great Britain

Criminology and Criminal Justice: Volume 14, Issue 2

Publication date30/04/2014
Publication date online31/05/2013