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'Partnership policing' in three marginalised communities: An ethnographic study

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  • Subjects Outside Of The University Themes
  • Criminology
  • Economics
  • Law


The development of community policing in the UK initiated the formation of ‘policing partnerships’. These early attempts, emerging in the 1980s, by police forces to establish partner relations with public and private sector organisations as well as communities followed a largely informal and ad hoc approach. In contrast, the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and more recently the Neighbourhood Policing agenda are examples of attempts to formalise such methods of working through legislation and policy. This study, utilising data collected from extensive ethnographic research in three socio-economically deprived communities of Northern England, addresses a so far under developed area of the extant research on ‘policing partnerships’; namely, the relationships and outcomes that can be observed when state institutions come into contact with marginalised communities. This study has adopted the standpoint of critical criminology in order to foster an analysis of the subject matter. It is contended that despite local and national policy rhetoric to the contrary, ‘policing partnerships’ primarily serve a largely enforcement based agenda that offers little discernible benefit to residents. Residents in marginalised communities occupy a relatively powerless position in relation to other actors and have little capacity to influence local agenda setting in respect of local policing matters. The police remain the dominant player within ‘policing partnerships’ and continuously seek to reinforce the goals of the policing ‘mission’; which, in its modern day iteration, is a primary interest in intelligence, surveillance and enforcement. For residents within marginalised communities to seek redress for matters of local concern, largely related to their socio-economic position and environment, a radical departure is required. One form that this may take is the pursuance of local partnerships without a police presence, prioritising a welfare agenda over the current status quo.

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