From ‘pluralisation’ to ‘the police extended family’: discourses on the governance of community policing in Britain

Les Johnston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With increased pluralisation of security there has been a growing dispute about the governance (or ‘ownership’) of community policing: whether community policing is something that the police do on behalf of communities; that communities do on their own behalf, either through municipal, commercial or citizen-based provision; or that communities and police do in partnership with one another. This paper examines recent developments with regard to the governance of community policing in Britain. First, it considers municipal-led modes of community policing. By the provision of central government funding, municipalities have been able to employ neighbourhood (or community) wardens to undertake a variety of tasks including crime prevention and environmental improvement. The paper draws upon research from one community warden scheme—involving a partnership between local authority and a private security company. Amongst the issues considered are the potentially complex relations obtaining between wardens and the local police. While varied, the police response to pluralisation, in general, and to municipalisation, in particular reflects aspects of Stenning's (1989) analysis of the stages of police reaction to the growth of private security in Canada. Though there has been no single police ‘position’ on the governance of plural policing in Britain, an influential model (‘the police extended family’) has begun to emerge. In part, this model has arisen because of concern in some places—including London—that municipal governments might opt to set up their own police forces, thereby posing a threat of ‘Balkanization’ (Blair, 2002). The second part of the paper examines key aspects of this model particularly as it applies to the employment of ‘community support officers’ by constabularies in England and Wales.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-204
JournalThe International Journal of the Sociology of Law
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2003


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