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This chapter looks at the possibility that neighbourhood policing might help to build good communities. It examines the evidence around social capital, collective efficacy and the ways that policing can contribute to these – as well as the idea that modern urban communities are very different and informal social control may no longer rest on a willingness to actively intervene. Finally it examines emerging models for developing the relationship between police forces and the communities they serve, but also the arguments that the police remit is already too broad.

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This chapter begins by exploring the legislation and guidance around police engagement with the public in the UK. It pays particular attention to the resilience of the public meeting as a way of engaging the public, despite its well-known disadvantages. It explores different methods of engagement and the problems and benefits of each; as well as how neighbourhood policing teams can best communicate with the public, including through virtual meetings and social media.

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Context, Practices and Challenges

Neighbourhood policing has been called the ‘cornerstone of British policing’ but changing demand, pressures on funding and the cyclical nature of political support mean that this approach is under considerable pressure.

Locating neighbourhood policing in its social and political context, the book investigates whether this UK model - intended to build confidence and legitimacy - has been successful. Exploring effective policing strategies and the importance of funding and philosophical support, it concludes with an assessment of the model’s future and the challenges that it needs to overcome.

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This chapter introduces the book and situates it in its broader international context. It discusses the definitional difficulties associated with community policing and communities in general. It notes the historical development of the approach in the US and the UK, and some of the barriers to its implementation, but also the variable success of the strategy in the Global South in comparison to the Global North. Finally, it sets out the book’s approach and its exploration of effective practice.

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Chapter 7 looks at the recent history of partnership working in policing. It outlines and critically analyses policy to frame current guidance and best practice in partnership working. It then examines the evidence on what best supports effective partnership working and the potential for co-production with partners and communities, as well as interrogating this idea in the particular context of policing. Finally, it outlines the kinds of conflicts in values that partnership working can throw up, and how police can deal with this.

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This chapter argues that the model of neighbourhood policing that developed in the UK was profoundly shaped by the priorities of the New Labour government in power at the time it was introduced. Ideas such as localism and the potential of partnership work, and the power of the public sector to build communities, are still integral elements of the model. However, the context has since changed profoundly – particularly with regard to austerity, to the relative weight paid to public confidence, and to ‘crime-fighting’ as a primary purpose of the police. It explores how neighbourhood policing has fractured as policing has been pulled in multiple directions with limited resources.

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This chapter begins by defining problems and problem-solving, before exploring SARA as a model for police problem-solving in the UK. It breaks down the four stages of SARA – Scanning, Analysis, Response and Assessment – and discusses the difficulties in implementation, including ensuring the necessary organisational support, managing public expectations and working within the limits of police capacity.

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The final chapter brings together the themes developed in the rest of the book and looks to the future. This discussion highlights the importance of both the policy landscape and the internal strategic focus of the police. The chapter argues that the unmooring of neighbourhood policing from its original purposes risks leaving it without the organisational support needed for the model to function effectively. However, the need to legitimate policing’s coercive function requires effective neighbourhood policing and an understanding of the importance of relationships with partners and communities.

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This chapter explores the overlapping concepts of confidence and legitimacy. It discusses the academic research into these concepts, how they are defined and what activities can support them or damage them. It also looks at demographic differences in levels of public confidence in the police. It then explores how this research was used to build the early trials of Reassurance Policing which evolved into the Neighbourhood Policing Programme.

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This chapter critically assesses the public appetite for foot patrol against its effectivenesss at reducing crime and disorder and providing public reassurance. It then looks at other elements of ‘visibility’, such as the accessibility of officers to the communities they serve and their familiarity both to residents and with the local area. The chapter argues that the success of and public desire for police visibility is tied to the expressive nature of public confidence and its roots in a desire for tangible guardianship of local communities.

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