Governance and accountability in community policing
Community policing presents its own distinct governance and accountability challenges. Local community police officers, for example, can find themselves stretched between the accountability demands of the local community and those flowing from professional, managerial and central government sources. Drawing on the results of a recent ethnographic study on neighbourhood police officers in rural and urban areas in the Netherlands, this article probes the nature and extent of these tensions and the coping strategies deployed by the officers in question and the police organisation as a whole. It finds that a regular strategy is to neutralise or marginalise the voice of the local community in shaping police priorities and strategies. Local democratic control of the police is often smothered by the competing professional, managerial, cultural and central government forces. This, in turn, has the effect of putting distance between police offices and citizens, and even creating a demand for the engagement of private sector patrol officers who are more responsive to the needs and wishes of the local community.