Policing the changing landscape of rural crime: a case study from Scotland

Robert Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Although the notion of rural crime has an idyllic aura to it, crime occurs in a changing social landscape and is affected by demographic changes, changing crime trends and by the introduction of new policing practices. Similarly, exactly what constitutes rural crime is also open to debate and changes over time. Likewise, we only have a fuzzy notion of the stereotypical rural criminal and find it difficult to acknowledge the existence of a rural criminal underclass. As a result, crime in a rural context is more difficult to police than crime in an urban landscape because it requires a different set of skills and practices from policing the urban landscape. The closure of rural police stations and the reallocation of scarce policing resources to urban hotspots have inevitably led to a deskilling of the archetypal ‘country bobby’. Consequently, this quasi-longitudinal case study examines changes in policing practices in a (fictionalised) subdivision in rural Scotland over a 40-year period. This enables consideration of the changing rural landscape of crime and from this mapping process implications and conclusions in relation to good practice on rural policing can emerge.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-387
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Police Science & Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • rural crime
  • rural policing
  • rural beat officers
  • community policing
  • Scotland


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