Journal Article

‘Last One Out, Turn Off the “Blue Lamp”’: The Geographical ‘Placing’ of Police Performance Management

Eugene McLaughlin

in Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice

Volume 2, issue 3, pages 266-275
Published in print January 2008 | ISSN: 1752-4512
Published online January 2008 | e-ISSN: 1752-4520 | DOI:
‘Last One Out, Turn Off the “Blue Lamp”’: The Geographical ‘Placing’ of Police Performance Management

Show Summary Details


In this article I wish to draw attention to one of the logical if unintended consequences of a performance management framework in the UK: namely plans to close traditional ‘blue lamp’ police stations on grounds of economy and effectiveness. It must be noted from the outset that what is truly remarkable is the lack of academic research that has been conducted on the police station; even in police circles little strategic thought seems to have been paid to the police station. The first section of this article discusses the ironies of a hyper-centralist performance management regime. In the second section, the discussion moves to the ironies associated with the shift to hyper-localist neighbourhood-driven policing. The final section addresses the politically ‘wicked issue’ of closing police stations—a suitable illustration of the contradictions that plague British policing. The critical point that I wish to make is that the Home Office's performance management regime has systematically disassembled the ‘structures of feeling’ and traditions associated with the Dixonian policing model—this includes the asset stripping of multi-functional ‘blue lamp’ police stations. At its most simple, the inability of performance management to encapsulate cultural meanings methodologically means that these aspects of public police work are deemed to be not just irrelevant but an obstacle to reform. As a consequence, public legitimacy is degraded as technical capabilities are enhanced.

Journal Article.  4695 words. 

Subjects: Policing

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