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  • N. R. Fyfe


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Encyclopedia of Human Geography
EditorsRob Kitchin, Nigel Thrift
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
Number of pages5
ISBN (Print)978-0-08-044911
StatePublished - 2009


The origins of geographical interest in policing can be traced back to studies of the geography of crime and the recognition that police practices in terms of the recording of crime have a significant impact on what appears in ‘official’ crime statistics. Partly building on these early insights into the links between crime and the control of crime, later research focused on the spatiality of police work. Drawing on data gathered from participant observation with police officers patrolling the streets, researchers used concepts derived from time geography and the study of territoriality to make sense of the interplay between agency and structure in routine policing. More recently, the focus of geographical attention has shifted from ‘the police’ to the broader concept of ‘policing’ which embraces a multiplicity of agencies and activities that use surveillance and the threat of sanctions in order to ensure security. In particular, studies of postmodern and neoliberal urbanism have highlighted the importance of policing in attempts to secure the commercial success of entrepreneurial cities, while also drawing attention to the significant consequences of such strategies for the social geography of cities. In terms of possible future research directions, there is scope for geographers to move beyond the largely local and urban focus of policing research to date and consider issues relating to broader geographical scales, such as transnational policing, and the policing of different environments, like cyberspace.

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