It is what you do as well as the way that you do it: the value and deployment of PCSOs in achieving public engagement

Faye Cosgrove, Pauline Ramshaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Resurgent efforts to reconnect the police with local communities and encourage more positive engagement with the public gained momentum over the last decade in England and Wales in the recent move from community to neighbourhood policing. Drawing on data from two ethnographic studies conducted in two English forces, one with a community police team and the other across two neighbourhood policing teams, this paper considers whether neighbourhood policing, specifically the introduction of police community support officers (PCSOs), has achieved more meaningful engagement where its predecessors have struggled, or whether the obstacles and pitfalls that have hindered previous models remain. It demonstrates that PCSOs are achieving more inclusive engagement in local communities, but their efforts are mitigated by their structured position in the organisation, aspirations to become police officers and the organisational environment in which they work. In light of such constraints, we argue that the capacity of PCSOs to break down barriers between the police and disaffected members of local communities and facilitate more representative public participation in policing would be greatly enhanced if they are driven by crime prevention and capacity building rather than crime control imperatives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-96
JournalPolicing and Society
Volume25
Issue number1
Early online date4 Jun 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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