Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

‘Soft’ Policing in Rural Scotland

Wooff, Andrew



‘Soft’ policing focuses on the non-coercive elements of policing, typically community engagement, situated knowledge and negotiated order maintenance. Although soft policing as a philosophy has been critiqued, recent work by McCarthy (2014. “Soft” Policing: The Collaborative Control of Anti-Social Behaviour. New York: Palgrave Macmillan). has argued that it is a useful concept for examining the ways that the police can work in partnership. It is therefore timely to examine the ways that soft policing can be applied in a rural policing context. This paper informs these debates by arguing that in some rural communities soft policing is the primary mechanism for tackling anti-social behaviour (ASB). Due in part to the challenges associated with policing large rural beats, police officers in some rural environments have clearer opportunities to engage with the community, use their situated community knowledge, and negotiate order. Thus through critical examination of the response of the police to ASB in rural Scotland, the paper argues that the soft policing agenda is useful for explaining some of the nuanced and complex ways that the police in rural Scotland tackle ASB. The paper begins by exploring the recent resurgence in soft policing literature, before the concept of soft policing in the context of rural Scotland is discussed. The paper concludes by exploring what the implications of these findings are for wider policing policy.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 1, 2016
Online Publication Date Aug 5, 2016
Publication Date 2017
Deposit Date Jul 7, 2016
Publicly Available Date Aug 6, 2018
Print ISSN 1752-4512
Electronic ISSN 1752-4520
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 11
Issue 2
Pages 123-131
Keywords Policing; soft policing; police power; social control; coercion;
Public URL
Contract Date Jul 7, 2016


You might also like

Downloadable Citations