Tara Fenwick, Richard Dockrell & Bonnie Slade ProPEL , University of Stirling. RURAL POLICING Understanding Police Knowledge and Practice in Rural Communities. the context. Geographic barriers – distance, mountains, weather, sea Isolation
ProPEL, University of Stirling
Geographic barriers – distance, mountains, weather, sea
Extreme variations in geographic and socio-cultural regions
Mandatory transfer policy
Identify unique challenges of policing practice and knowledge in rural Scotland
Explore present responses to these challenges (skills, practices, resources, leadership)
Suggest implications for work arrangements and leadership to support professional learning
Qualitative research study with 34 participants:
Nature of rural policing
Nature of criminality and challenges of police work in rural areas
Management in rural policing
Rural policing as community engagement
Rural policing – towards the future
There is a delusion that it’s going to be some sort of Hamish McBeth lifestyle, you’re going to be living in a wee village with your Scottie dog, you’re going to be out on the push bike round the village saying hello to the baker and the minister, but the reality is – well it’s not the reality at all.
not one but many ruralities
distinct communities with different ways of working with police
must learn immediate cultural adaptation
must learn in a fishbowl
‘you have to learn how to use your tongue and always know that there’s going to be another day’
primary role = ‘mediator’
legitimacy in community balanced with accountability to police standards
on call 24/7
importance of responding to ‘the mundane’
You can get support from the coast guard and from the military we have used that in the past. Well there is a lot of informality to it, but again it goes back to relationship building, but there are formal processes.
playing the long game in everyday moments
gauge the community – trust, trust, trust
educate the community about police role
inter-professional work bottom-up [inter-operability] – working out boundaries, roles
“One of the strengths for us, and because of the geography it can’t be any other way, is that our officers still live and work within their local community .. we are embedded within the communities across the force area”
no hiding place, no down time
on/off duty blurred
family is implicated in duty
simultaneous outsider / insider
and just when you’re settled …
‘It’s covering a 12 foot room with an 8 foot carpet’
work-arounds to stretch resources and solve problems
“There isn’t just one policing style, a small rural police force, within it there are significant differences in policing style and policing approaches”
Learning the lasting fix
Being in or of the community
What is new or surprising in these findings?
What could the public be made more aware of?
What practices could be more encouraged and supported?
What are implications for assessment and reporting of police activity?