The future of neighbourhood policing

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  • Can you help us understand how neighbourhood policing in your force area, or more broadly, has changed in recent years?

  • Tell us about good practice (past or present) or new innovations in neighbourhood policing?

  • Share your thoughts on how neighbourhood policing might look in five or ten years’ time?

If you’d like to get in touch, follow our progress or take part in a future survey about neighbourhood policing please make contact here or email us.

Neighbourhood policing is widely regarded as the ‘bedrock’ of British policing. However, as forces have adapted their operating models to new funding and demand challenges, the form in which it is delivered has diversified, and in some places diminished.

Concerns have been raised that the ability of the police to prevent crime may be undermined if neighbourhood teams are eroded. 'Hybrid’ roles (for example, combining neighbourhood functions with response or investigation work) have been introduced and some officers are no longer attached to specific localities. The meaning of neighbourhood policing is becoming more ambiguous and agreement on what it is and how it should function risks breaking down.

At the same time, many neighbourhoods are themselves changing, becoming more diverse and dissimilar. Arguably, their policing needs are becoming more difficult to identify and understand. The focus of policing has also changed, with new emphases on ‘hidden’ harm and vulnerability. These have been added to or superseded previous local policing objectives such as promoting public confidence, providing visible reassurance and tackling crime and antisocial behaviour in public spaces.

The Police Foundation’s Future of Neighbourhood Policing project sets out to explore how diversification in neighbourhood policing might be better aligned to the diverse policing needs of neighbourhoods.

Project aims:

  • Chart how neighbourhood policing has changed in England and Wales since the end of the Neighbourhood Policing Programme in 2008 – and what it looks like in 2017. 
  • Identify what, if anything, can be said about the impacts and consequences of the different approaches taken over the period. 
  • Understand how forces allocate resources to neighbourhood policing, and in turn how neighbourhood officers allocate them. 
  • Examine how neighbourhood resources are deployed to specific policing activities and how different approaches and policing styles are tailored to particular neighbourhoods. The project will seek to explore how both might be optimised.

  • Examine how neighbourhood policing connects to, supports and is supported by other local services and other police functions – and how this might be improved. 
  • Explore how changes in crime, technology, society and the public's expectations have changed the policing needs of neighbourhoods, how neighbourhood policing has adapted so far, and how it might do so in the future.

Other reading

Read our paper A natural experiment in neighbourhood policing from our Police Effectiveness in a Changing World project.

Read a blog Core functions: the real value of neighbourhood policing by the Foundation’s Senior Research Officer Andy Higgins.

Read the Police Foundation literature review Neighbourhood policing: past, present and future