Research Output

Relationships and responses: Policing anti-social behaviour in rural Scotland

  Rural policing, with a few notable exceptions, has been largely absent from the geographic and criminology literature. Yet, examining rural policing is important for revealing details about rural society, and the role that the police play in controlling rural space. Using participant observation and interview data collected as part of a wider study exploring anti-social behaviour (ASB) in rural Scotland, this paper calls for a more nuanced understanding of rural policing. In order to fully conceptualise the response of the police to ASB in these rural locations, the role of discretion, negotiated order maintenance and police–community interactions need to be considered. These dimensions are considered to lie at the core of the response of the police to ASB in rural Scotland. Existing urban-based policing typologies are helpful for beginning to understand the multiple ways that the police control territory. Yet they are of limited relevance to some of the challenges identified with policing rural contexts, namely the scale of the environment, the lack of back-up and the forms of ASB that are common in rural locations. This paper concludes by arguing that the rural needs to be (re)conceptualised as a distinct, challenging and variable policing environment, with particular contextual factors that need to be considered.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    29 November 2014

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  • DOI:


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  • Library of Congress:

    HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    302 Social interaction

  • Funders:

    Historic Funder (pre-Worktribe)


Wooff, A. (2015). Relationships and responses: Policing anti-social behaviour in rural Scotland. Journal of Rural Studies, 39, 287-295.



Rurality, policing, anti-social behaviour, discretion, community, negotiated order

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