Policing the ‘global neighbourhood’

Thursday 15 October 2009

Local unrest during global events could be better handled by community policing according to researchers at the University of St Andrews.

Experts in violence reduction will meet at the University today (Thursday 15 October) to discuss ways of improving community policing around Europe during periods of mass discontent.

A crack team of academics, specialists and police from either side of the North Sea have pulled together to form a new network aimed at helping police forces better engage with local communities.

The first meeting of The North Sea Collaborative Group for Policing Research meets today and tomorrow (15-16 October) – delegates include representatives from Scottish Government, police and academia, and from the Dutch Police Academy and the University of Ghent, and the Scottish Institute for Policing Research.[SI1]

The event is being led by Dr Jeffrey Murer, lecturer in Collective Violence at St Andrews.  He said, “In January 2009 demonstrations all over Europe erupted to protest actions in Gaza.  But in many European cities, the Gaza protests were also opportunities to express frustration with racism, exclusion, class difference, or an overall lack of acceptance by many minority communities.

“When policing services largely read these protests as only being about events in Palestine, they missed an opportunity to improve community relations, and in some cases actually exacerbated tensions between communities by ignoring the local accents to what was seen as a foreign or global problem.

“This workshop seeks to open new modes of communication, and to explore how academics can provide useable deliverables to police forces to improve their ability to conduct proactive community policing.”

One of the main aims of the next two days is to work out how local police can to increase cooperation between social services, and provide pro-active rather than reactive security to multi-cultural neighbourhoods.

The group includes representatives from three of Scotland’s eight police forces; from the Scottish Government unit charged with Preventing Extremist Violence; from community organisations in Glasgow and Edinburgh that represent minority community interests, including the Scottish Islamic Foundation; from the Universities of St Andrews, Dundee, Exeter, Birmingham and West of Scotland; and from the North Sea partners, the Scottish Institute for Policing Research (SIPR), the Dutch Police Academy and the University of Ghent.

Dr Murer is engaged in a series of projects, all of which are aimed at reducing community violence; he is also the Principal Investigator of the British Council Sponsored European Study of Youth Mobilisation, which explores the self-understandings and attitudes towards violence among young people involved in radial and extremist violence across Northern and Central Europe.

He continued, “Often global events have profound effects in local neighbourhoods hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away.  The goal of this workshop is to promote better avenues for understanding by local police forces on how to pro-actively engage communities on larger issues that affect their neighbourhoods beyond the immediate environs.

“The goal is to develop a partnership between police practitioners, academics and community activists which will explicate the tensions, frustrations, disappointments, and sources of satisfaction and joy of complex, multicultural, or simply culturally different communities to state service providers.”

This workshop is hosted by SIPR, the University’s Principal’s Office, the School of International Relations and the School of Psychology.



The meeting is the first working group to form after an international collaborative research group was created last May in The Hague, the Netherlands.  The North Sea Collaborative Group for Policing Research is a partnership between the Scottish Institute for Policing Research, of which the University of St Andrews is a member, The Norwegian Policing College, The Policing Institute at Cardiff University, The Dutch Police Academy, and the University of Ghent.

DR MURER IS AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEW ON: 01334 461924 / 07515 278881 or [email protected]  

Issued by the Press Office, University of St Andrews
Contact Gayle Cook, Senior Press Officer on 01334 467227 / 462529, mobile 07900 050 103, or email [email protected]
Ref:  Global neighbourhoods 141009

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