In this paper, we outline findings from an innovative action research project in an English police force that aimed to enhance community engagement in four neighbourhood policing teams. We describe the principles that lie at the heart of neighbourhood policing and how, for a variety of reasons, these were often seen to be peripheral rather than essential to the teams’ activities. We describe how a lack of understanding about the role of neighbourhood policing, limited knowledge about communities and their differing needs, narrow methods of engagement and consultation, as well as the perception that community engagement was ‘nice to do but not essential’ all reduced the potential benefits of neighbourhood policing. We then discuss the ways we sought to tackle these issues using action research
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