Citizen involvement in policing at a time of economic crisis

Matthew Callender, Iain Britton

Research output: Contribution to ConferencePaper


The economic crisis in the United Kingdom has significantly impacted on policing budgets. This austerity context for policing is having a transformational impact on policing organisations and their abilities to serve local communities. One response has been a renewed interest in direct citizen involvement in policing and in particular the rise in usage of volunteer Special Constables and Police Support Volunteers. The paper will draw on the findings of a large-scale programme across several UK forces, which is researching strategic cultures in respect of police voluntarism. It will explore the extent to which this rise in police volunteering is driven by strategic professional narratives of funding crises and the stretched front-line, and will examine the implications of this renewed strategic interest in voluntarism in policing being framed in this way as a response to austerity. The paper will also draw on research across UK Special Constables and Police Support Volunteers, exploring how their motivations, involvement and role have been impacted by wider factors of economic crisis. Internationally, the roles played by citizens directly in policing vary markedly. Drawing on a comparative policy review of police volunteering and citizen involvement, the paper will identify the bifurcation between policing models in countries that are increasingly relying on volunteers and direct citizen involvement, and those countries where policing models do not engage citizens directly in the activity of policing communities. It will question whether greater citizen involvement will inevitably spread as economic crises impact on policing budgets and the demand for policing services, and explores the implications of an increased reliance of the police on volunteers to deliver core services for local communities.


Conference44th Annual Conference of the European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control : Economic Crisis and Crime: From Global North to Global South
Period2/09/16 → …
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