Understanding Police Work in the Remote Northern isles of Scotland: The Extraordinary Ordinariness of Island Policing

21 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2020

See all articles by Anna Souhami

Anna Souhami

University of Edinburgh - School of Law

Date Written: August 13, 2020

Abstract

Remote islands are at the periphery of thinking about policing both in theory and in practice. Despite a rich tradition of police research, studies of rural policing are rare, and of policing in remote areas rarer still. Consequently, both the conceptual development of police scholarship and the development of operational policing and strategy have both been underpinned by a particular model of urban environment. This paper presents early findings from a major ethnographic study of policing in the remote Northern islands of Scotland, and considers what, if anything, is distinctive about policing in remote small islands.

Drawing on over 600 hours of ethnographic fieldwork of policing and island life, this paper describes the challenges and experiences of policing in small remote islands and the form of policing these produce. It argues first, the extraordinary conditions of remote island police work engender a style which emphasises under-enforcement, transparency, and in particular a striking empathy and humanity. Second, while this police style is felt by officers to be distinctive, it is in fact at the heart of all police work. Remote islands therefore present a paradox: their extraordinary conditions result in ordinary policing. And third, the perception that remote island policing is unusual suggests that what needs explanation is not island but urban policing.

Keywords: Policing, Islands, Ethnography, Scotland, rural, remote

Suggested Citation

Souhami, Anna, Understanding Police Work in the Remote Northern isles of Scotland: The Extraordinary Ordinariness of Island Policing (August 13, 2020). Edinburgh School of Law Research Paper No. 2020/17, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3673425 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3673425

Anna Souhami (Contact Author)

University of Edinburgh - School of Law ( email )

Old College
South Bridge
Edinburgh, EH8 9YL
United Kingdom

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