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Durham University

Department of Sociology

Sociology Department Staff

Publication details for Dr Donna Marie Brown

Brown, D. M. (2017). Beyond the thin blue line? A critical analysis of Scotland's Community Warden Scheme. Policing and Society 27(1): 6-20.

Author(s) from Durham


Over the past decade the national governments of the UK have repositioned ‘community safety’ as a priority area. The complexity of reducing real and perceived crime rates and levels of antisocial behaviour is widely accepted. This has inspired the development of numerous programmes aimed at delivering safer and stronger communities in specific contexts. One of the strategies promoted in Scotland is the Community Warden Scheme, which aims to provide a ‘uniformed, semi-official police presence’ at a community level. Scotland's Community Wardens characterise the growing trend towards the pluralisation of police service providers, as a myriad of actors constitute the ‘extended policing family’. Amidst the diversification and expansion of policing actors, issues surrounding public accountability and policing authority loom large. This paper aims to critically examine the role of Scotland's Community Wardens in relation to the broader policing landscape, drawing on empirical data generated in one city (Dundee). It will start by discussing the political and policy context surrounding the creation of the Community Warden Scheme, and describing the Wardens’ main roles and responsibilities. The paper will then outline two substantive issues facing the Wardens as highlighted by the primary research. First, the importance of developing a distinct professional identity will be explored. Second, the imperative of working alongside local policing teams will be discussed. In suggesting methods of good practice, the everyday challenges of navigating intra-professional expectations, inter-professional tensions and public accountability will be critically analysed.