Purpose\ud The purpose of the paper is to explore, in broad terms, how policing needs to be developed in communities today.\ud \ud Approach\ud The approach is normative and analytical, considering the meaning of policing in general, and community policing in particular, and specifying the criteria that such policing has to satisfy in order to be fair and effective in contemporary society.\ud \ud Findings\ud A concept of public self-policing is developed and community policing is then evaluated in the light of this concept. Police officers are understood as street-level bureaucrats, with multiple accountabilities. The ideal relationship between police and public is characterised as a structural coupling between two types of self-organising system. \ud \ud Implications\ud The paper has implications for how policing organisations and governments might develop improved policing strategies in the future.\ud \ud Value of the paper\ud The paper provides a clear, logical summary of thinking about the role of policing, particularly community policing, in today’s society. It offers a novel concept of public self-policing, leading to a new approach to the evaluation of the work of policing organisations
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