Problem-Solving and Partnership: A Study of the Role of Neighbourhood Action Groups in Neighbourhood Policing

Mehigan, James (2009). Problem-Solving and Partnership: A Study of the Role of Neighbourhood Action Groups in Neighbourhood Policing. PhD thesis The Open University.



This thesis looks at the implementation of neighbourhood policing by studying two case study neighbourhoods within the Thames Valley Police. The study focusses on the Neighbourhood Action Group (NAG) which exists in each neighbourhood. It comprises police, partner organizations (such as the local council, schools, businesses etc.) and some residents. The group puts the problem-solving role of the neighbourhood policing agenda into practice. The NAG attempts to take on board local concerns and prioritize the resolution or amelioration of these problems in their neighbourhood. In so doing the group must navigate a set of concepts which are riven with subjectivity and open to wide-ranging interpretation.

The thesis looked at one NAG (Neighbourhood B) from before its initial implementation up until it established itself and began working on its priority problems. The research also observed a more established NAG (Neighbourhood A) which had been working on its priority problems for some time. In this way it was possible to follow the process in its entirety, including the consultation process, the formation of the NAG, initial problem-solving approaches and the problems faced by the group as it grapples with longer term problems.

In looking at the NAG the thesis uses a 'nodal governance of security' approach. This locates the NAG as one 'node' linked into a larger network of security providers and governors. The group, in bringing together a selection of interested parties to work on the provision of security to a neighbourhood.

Using this 'nodal governance' analysis, the thesis sets out a number of recurring difficulties which the NAGs face when trying to operate as a group of partner organizations. It further used the approach to look at how difficult the problem-solving process is for NAGs operating as 'nodes'. NAGs are still in their infancy, but it is clear that there are many problems, as well as much potential, ahead for them in implementing the neighbourhood policing agenda.

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