Definition of neighbourhood policing

The defining features of neighbourhood policing

The defining features of neighbourhood policing are:

  • Police officers, staff and volunteers accessible to, responsible for and accountable to communities
  • Community engagement that builds trust and develops a sophisticated understanding of community needs
  • Collaborative problem-solving  with communities supported by integrated working with private, public and voluntary sectors.

The combination of these features distinguishes neighbourhood policing from other broader policing functions. It is an essential part of the UK policing approach that aims to connect our communities directly and seamlessly to specialist policing services at local, regional and national level. It recognises that those involved in neighbourhood policing need time and space to work in a proactive and preventative way to:

  • Protect local neighbourhoods or communities
  • Safeguard the vulnerable   
  • Manage and divert offenders   
  • Earn community confidence

It encourages the use of locally tailored evidence-based practice to have a sustained impact on reducing harm, repeat demand and increasing community resilience. Alongside community engagement, it requires effective data sharing between different agencies for problems to be identified and properly understood, and for effective decision making and action at the neighbourhood level. Defining problems with precision helps to better target action, assess the effect of interventions and ensure limited resources are not wasted on ineffective activities.

Impact evidence for this definition

This definition of neighbourhood policing is underpinned by the following impact evidence:

  • Systematic review evidence has shown that, overall and across a range of different places, neighbourhood policing has been effective at:

    - reducing public perceptions of disorder
    - increasing trust and confidence in the police
    - increasing the perceived legitimacy of the police.
  • Neighbourhood policing pilots in the UK were found to reduce victimisation and have a sustained impact across a range of outcomes.
        • Studies have highlighted the following as the effective elements of neighbourhood policing:

          - targeted foot patrol, community engagement and problem-solving delivered in combination at a local level 

          - community and partner involvement in problem-solving

          - strong governance, accountability and support to maintain a focus on delivery and address known problems with implementation
    • Neighbourhood policing has sometimes been perceived by officers as 'soft' and not 'real policing', whereas it involves challenging work with communities, targeting enforcement and making difficult decisions.

    • Type of evidence

      The guidelines are informed by reviews of the research evidence, supplemented by practitioner knowledge and experience. In addition to the evidence rating given to each guideline, the type of research included in the evidence summaries has been clearly labelled:

      ​■■■Evidence from systematic reviews – exhaustive reviews of quantitative studies – selected for their relevance and methods – that make overall assessments of 'what worked' in a range of contexts.
      ​■■Evidence from rapid evidence assessments – time-limited reviews of studies – selected for their relevance and methods – that provide general overviews of the literature on impact and implementation issues.
      ​■Evidence from impact evaluations – quantitative studies that make assessments of 'what worked' in particular contexts.
      ​●Evidence from other research – studies that provide insights on implementation or other issues in particular contexts.


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