Guideline 1: Engaging communities

Chief officers should work with police and crime commissioners to deliver and support neighbourhood policing and must ensure it is built on effective engagement and consultation with communities.

Essential elements include:
  • A clearly defined and transparent purpose for engagement activities

  • Regular formal and informal contact with communities

  • Working with partners (eg, by identifying communities and sharing arrangements for engagement)
  • Making available information about local crime and policing issues to communities

  • Engagement that is tailored to the needs and preferences of different communities

  • Using engagement to identify local priorities and inform problem solving

  • Officers, staff and volunteers providing feedback and being accountable to communities

  • Officers, staff and volunteers supporting communities, where appropriate, to be more active in the policing of their local areas.

Community engagement in neighbourhoods should:
  • Provide an ongoing two-way dialogue between the police and the public
  • Enable the police to develop a better understanding of communities and their needs, risks and threats.

This guideline is underpinned by section 34 of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 which provides a legal requirement for chief officers to make arrangements to consult with the public in each neighbourhood, provide local information about crime and policing and hold regular public meetings.

Advice and support: putting guidelines into practice

Depending on your role and interest, select the relevant link(s) to download practical advice for engaging communities in neighbourhood policing.

Supporting material for frontline officers, staff and volunteers
Supporting material for supervisors
Supporting material for senior leaders

Impact evidence for engaging communities

The guideline and advice and support for engaging communities are underpinned by the following impact evidence:

  • Overall, the police collaborating with the public for the purposes of problem solving can reduce perceived disorder and increase trust and perceived legitimacy in the police.
  • Community engagement in policing may have a positive impact on crime and disorder.
  • Community engagement and targeted foot patrol, when implemented with problem solving in UK ward-level pilots, reduced criminal victimisation and disorder, improved feelings of safety, increased trust and improved public perceptions of policing.
  • While beat meetings can be an effective way for the police to engage people about local problems, they can also be unrepresentative.
  • Non-traditional, more proactive methods that are designed to reach a broader cross section of the community (eg, planning events, open forums, door knocking) may be more effective than meetings at improving public perceptions.
  • Newsletters about neighbourhood policing can have a significant positive impact on public confidence in the police and their perceptions of community engagement. Online information about crime and policing in the neighbourhood can also have a small positive impact on public perceptions of the police.

Key: Type of evidence
​■■■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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