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Police relationships and engagement with rural citizens: perspectives of front-line police in the United Kingdom, Australia, and France

Kyle Mulrooney (University of New England, Armidale, Australia)
Karen Bullock (Department of Sociology, University of Surrey, Stag Hill Campus, Guildford, UK)
Christian Mouhanna (CESDIP, Centre de recherches sociologiques sur le droit et les institutions pénales, CNRS, Guyancourt, France)
Alistair Harkness (University of New England, Armidale, Australia)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 19 March 2024

Issue publication date: 4 June 2024

157

Abstract

Purpose

This article examines challenges and strategies related to police relationships and engagement with rural communities in England and Wales, Australia and France. It aims to bridge a gap in knowledge around how police balance public demands with organisational and contextual constraints, exploring the role of communication technology in overcoming geographical and cultural barriers in rural policing.

Design/methodology/approach

The research draws upon 121 semi-structured interviews conducted across three distinct jurisdictions. In the United Kingdom and Australia, interviews were conducted via Microsoft Teams, while face-to-face interviews were conducted in France. Participants were recruited through the purposive sampling of police working in rural areas. The data were thematically analysed using NVivo Software.

Findings

Rural communities have low expectations of policing services, a consequence of geography, organisational structures and limited resource allocation. Building relationships can be challenging owing to isolation and terrain, the need for officers to have local and cultural knowledge, and difficulties in recruiting officers in rural posts. Technology-mediated communication has played a part in the solutions (e.g. social media). However, this may not always be suitable owing to limited connectivity, citizen and police preferences for communication and engagement, and the institutional and cultural nuances surrounding the application of technology.

Originality/value

This article provides empirical insights into the attitudes and experiences of rural police officers, highlighting the distinctive policing context and engagement needs of rural communities. The research underscores the necessity for contextually aware engagement. It suggests that while technology-mediated communication offers some solutions to spatial challenges, its effectiveness may be limited by access, generational preferences and the adaptability of police institutions and cultures.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Corrigendum: It has come to the attention of the publisher that the article Mulrooney, K., Bullock, K., Mouhanna, C. and Harkness, A. (2024), “Police relationships and engagement with rural citizens: perspectives of front-line police in the United Kingdom, Australia, and France”, Policing: An International Journal, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/PIJPSM-12-2023-0173 incorrectly listed Christian Mouhanna’s affiliation as Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Paris, France. This has now been updated to the correct CESDIP, Centre de recherches sociologiques sur le droit et les institutions pénales, CNRS, Guyancourt, France.

Citation

Mulrooney, K., Bullock, K., Mouhanna, C. and Harkness, A. (2024), "Police relationships and engagement with rural citizens: perspectives of front-line police in the United Kingdom, Australia, and France", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 47 No. 3, pp. 340-352. https://doi.org/10.1108/PIJPSM-12-2023-0173

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2024, Emerald Publishing Limited

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