Senior Lecturer

Deputy Director of Research

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Alistair Henry is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology in Edinburgh Law School. He currently acts as the Deputy Director of Research, with a focus on Knowledge Exchange and Impact.  Between 2010-2018 he acted as an Associate Director of the Scottish Institute for Policing Research (SIPR), where he chaired the Police Community Relations Network.  He is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the European Journal of Policing Studies.

Ph.D. supervision interests
I am open to discussing PhD opportunities with potential candidates in relation to any of my noted research interests. At present I have particularly strong interests in the local governance of crime, governance and accountability mechanisms in policing, democratic governance of the police, the effects of police reform, policing in times of austerity, and partnership working and how to make it more effective in practice.


Dr Alistair Henry's Homepage at Edinburgh Law School

Current Research Interests

Alistair's main empirical research interests are around police reform, local policing, partnership working and community engagement, governance and accountability of police and public sector agencies, and the development of collaborative academic-practitioner research agendas.  He is also interested in social learning theories, interaction ritual theory, and visual and literary representations of crime and justice.

Research Interests

Alistair has broad interests within the fields of criminology, police studies and social theory.  Particular areas of interest that shape both his research and his teaching include:

  • Policing and community policing
  • Social learning and communities of practice in organisations
  • Governance and accountability
  • Partnership working across organisational boundaries
  • Academic-practitioner collaborations
  • Reflexivity and social scientific methods

Courses Taught

Criminology (Honours)

Gender Crime and Criminal Justice (MSc)

Global Crime and Insecurity (MSc)

Introduction to Criminal Justice (Ordinary)

Introduction to Criminology (Ordinary)

Police and Policing (MSc) (Course Organiser)

Responding to Global Crime and Insecurity (Msc)

Books and Reports

Alistair Henry, Sarah Armstrong, Jarrett Blaustein, Reflexivity in Criminal Justice: Intersections of Policy, Practice and Research, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017)

Alistair Henry, Andy Aitchison, Ali Malik, Partners in Scrutiny: Local Police Scrutiny Arrangements in Scotland, Final Project Report, (Scottish Institute for Policing Research, 2016)
Abstract: This small-scale project was designed to examine the development and working of local police scrutiny arrangements following the creation of Police Scotland and in light of public concern regarding their efficacy. The project was supported by the Scottish Institute for Policing Research (SIPR) and ran between October 2015 and March 2016, the fieldwork being completed by January 2016. This report begins by setting out in detail the context for the project. It then outlines the project itself, which was conducted in two stages, and its findings. Stage one of the project was a mapping and overview exercise. Through mapping we identified the different ways in which Local Scrutiny Committees (LSCs) had developed since their creation on 1 April 2013, and through overview interviews with key stakeholders we gleaned some of the current issues around questions of local scrutiny. From stage one we were able to select three local sites for more in-depth qualitative study that would form the basis of stage two. The report outlines the process of this site selection and the data collected in the three sites before moving on to present the findings in two sections. In the first section we establish the main themes and issues to emerge from the fieldwork in a summary findings section. In the second we present in more detail the various perspectives expressed to us during the course of the project. We conclude with a discussion of these perspectives from our external standpoint as researchers, offering some reflections on their meaning and importance, and making some recommendations that flow out of them.

Alistair Henry, Andy Aitchison, Ali Malik, Partners in Scrutiny: Three Local Scrutiny Committees, (Scottish Institute for Policing Research, 2016)
Abstract: This is the second of two briefing notes from the SIPR-funded Partners in Scrutiny project. It presents the perspectives and experiences of key participants (from police and local authorities) working in three different Local Scrutiny Committees (LSCs). Themes explored with participants included: structural disconnects between LSCs and local communities, LSCs and the SPA, and within Police Scotland; the understanding of roles and functions within LSCs; information flow and quality; the capacities and skills of participants relevant to the scrutiny function; the status of LSCs; and learning and sharing good practice around police scrutiny.

Alistair Henry, Andy Aitchison, Ali Malik, Partners in Scrutiny: Mapping Local Scrutiny Arrangements in Scotland, (Scottish Institute for Policing Research, 2016)

Alistair Henry, Simon Mackenzie, Community Policing: A Review of the Evidence, (Scottish Government, 2009)
Abstract: A review of international evidence on different models of 'Community Policing': how and where they are used, and how well they have been found to work. This is intended as a reference for the development of community policing in Scotland.

Alistair Henry, David J. Smith, Transformations of Policing, (Ashgate Publishing, 2007)
Abstract: Police and People in London is still the largest and most detailed study of a police force and its relations with the public that has yet been undertaken in Britain. The twenty years since the publication of People and Police in London, it has seen a constantly-accelerating rate of change in the legal framework of policing, in the arrangements for democratic accountability of the police, in the technologies involved in crime and policing, in management structures and methods in the police service, in financial control systems imposed by central government and in methods of assessing police performance. Over the same period, crime control has moved from the bottom to the top of the political agenda, leading to increasing pressure on the police to be seen to be effective. Transformations of Policing returns to the central issues discussed in 1983 and considers whether the main conclusions need to be revised in the light of what has happened since. It also reviews areas of debate and research that have emerged more recently and highlights areas of turbulence that are creating fundamentally different patterns from before and raising genuinely new questions.

Alistair Henry, A Literature Review of Public Defence or Staff Lawyer Schemes, (Scottish Executive Central Research Unit, Edinburgh, 1998)


Alistair Henry, Andrew Aydin-Aitchison, Ali Malik, 'Local governance in the new Police Scotland: Renegotiating power, recognition and responsiveness', (2018), European Journal of Criminology
Abstract: A marked, but by no means universal, trend in Europe over the last decade or so has been the centralisation or amalgamation of regional police organisations into larger or single units. Scotland is a case in point, its eight regional services becoming one Police Scotland in April 2013. Although the reform process was relatively consensual the new organisation has been the subject of numerous controversies, some of which reflect an actual or perceived loss of the local in Scottish policing. Drawing on a qualitative study of the emerging local governance arrangements we explore the negotiated character of large scale organisational reform, demonstrating that it is best understood as a process not an event. We also argue that appeals to localism are not mere expressions of sentiment and resistance to change. They reflect the particular historical development of policing and public service delivery in Scotland at the level of municipal government, but also strong convictions that policing should be subject to democratic deliberation and should recognise and be responsive to those subject to it, what we argue here are necessary functions of police governance in general.

Alistair Henry, Nick Fyfe, 'Reform, research and 're-invention' ', (2015), Scottish Justice Matters, Vol 3, pp 21-22

Alistair Henry, Nick Fyfe, 'Broadening and deepening the debate about police reform in Scotland ', (2015), Scottish Justice Matters, Vol 3, pp 2

Niall Hamilton-Smith, Simon Mackenzie, Alistair Henry, Catherine Davidones, 'Community Policing and Reassurance: Three Studies, One Narrative', (2014), Criminology and Criminal Justice, Vol 14, pp 160-78
Abstract: Drawing on data from three separate studies of community policing (CP) in Scotland this article identifies common themes in the practice of contemporary CP. First, following in the wake of the global financial crisis, we have an austerity drive with cuts to policing budgets setting the context in which CP practice is now negotiated. Second all three studies evidence an increasingly entrenched performance management framework for policing which exerts pressures on beat officers to depart from established, valued and often ‘unmeasurable’ activities within CP practice. Third, we see the depletion of the traditional ‘tools of the trade’ of CP as new recruits, lacking the skills of the traditional beat officer, are assigned CP functions, while mentoring opportunities for supporting their professional development become increasingly inadequate. Finally, the idea of reassurance as a core policing goal has informed the re-organization of Scotland’s main police forces towards models which purport to increase CP numbers, visibility and public engagement. In the context of the preceding three themes however, these re-inventions of CP have been problematic in various ways: conflicted, superficial and unconnected to developments in policing and procedural justice theory around legitimacy and public confidence. Indeed, we will argue that given the formal increase in public-facing CP numbers across the sites examined here, the procedural justice perspective, with its focus on the quality of police–public encounters, has real potential to enhance the efficacy of CP in Scotland.

Alistair Henry, Daniel Gilling, Gordon Hughes, Matthew Bowden, Adam Edwards, John Topping, 'Powers, Liabilities and Expertise in Community Safety: Comparative Lessons for Urban Security from the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland', (2013), European Journal of Criminology, Vol 10, pp 326-40
Abstract: This paper begins by outlining and critiquing what we term the dominant anglophone model of neo-liberal community safety and crime prevention. As an alternative to this influential but flawed model, a comparative analysis is provided of the different constitutional-legal settlements in each of the five jurisdictions across the UK and the Republic of Ireland (ROI), and their uneven institutionalization of community safety. In the light of this it is argued that the nature of the anglophone community safety enterprise is actually subject to significant variation. Summarizing the contours of this variation facilitates our articulation of some core dimensions of community safety. Then, making use of Colebatch’s (2002) deconstruction of policy activity into categories of authority and expertise, and Brunsson’s (2002) distinction between policy talk, decisions and action, we put forward a way of understanding policy activity that avoids the twin dangers of ‘false particularism’ and ‘false universalism’ (Edwards and Hughes, 2005); that indicates a path for further empirical enquiry to assess the ‘reality’ of policy convergence; and that enables the engagement of researchers with normative questions about where community safety should be heading.

Alistair Henry, Lesley McAra, 'Negotiated Orders: Implications for Theory and Practice in Criminology', (2012), Criminology and Criminal Justice, pp 341-45

Alistair Henry, 'Situating Community Safety: Emergent Professional Identities in Communities of Practice', (2012), Criminology and Criminal Justice, Vol 12, pp 413-31
Abstract: Community safety has often been studied from an institutional perspective as an important adaptation to late modernity, or from a practice perspective as a set of professional activities that are of especial interest because they are developed across institutional boundaries, through partnerships. This article will introduce Wenger’s communities of practice perspective in order to demonstrate how both of these strands of research need to be understood together. Drawing upon an empirical study of the development and working of community safety partnerships in Scotland it will explore the ways in which professional identities and practices around the concept of community safety have been negotiated through practitioners’ participation in emergent communities of practice that need to be understood within the particular institutional, social and political contexts that frame them. It will be argued that to understand practice as ‘situated’ in Wenger’s terms is to acknowledge the dynamic and mutually constitutive relations that connect institutions and lived experience. Such an analysis suggests that there is much transformative potential in partnerships, and that theorizing on broad national and international trajectories of transformation needs to be tested through the study of locally negotiated practice.

Alistair Henry, 'What is Criminology? Eds Mary Bosworth and Carolyn Hoyle ', (2012), Edinburgh Law Review, Vol 16, pp 294-96

Alistair Henry, Simon Mackenzie, 'Brokering Communities of Practice: A Model of Knowledge Exchange and Academic-Practitioner Collaboration Developed in the Context of Community Policing', (2012), Police Practice and Research: An International Journal, Vol 13, pp 315-28
Abstract: Knowledge transfer and knowledge exchange have recently become commonly used terms in the social sciences. They imply a number of different relationships between researchers and practitioners, and between research and practice, although these have often remained implicit or underdeveloped. Drawing from the experience of designing, delivering and refining a three year knowledge transfer fellowship on community policing this article aims to critically appraise these concepts and the assumptions about ‘knowledge’ and academic-practitioner roles and relationships that underpin them. It examines the role of research in knowledge transfer and exchange collaborations and the importance of personal relationships and organisational structures in shaping and sustaining them. In so doing, we contend that the nature and scope of academic-practitioner collaborations (and the potential benefits and pitfalls inherent within them), is more meaningfully captured by a model that is introduced and sketched out in this article: ‘brokering communities of practice’.

Alistair Henry, Nicholas Fyfe, 'Negotiating Divergent Tides of Police Reform within the United Kingdom ', (2012), Journal of Police Studies, Vol 25, pp 171-90

Alistair Henry, William Skelly, John Hawkins, Nick Fyfe, 'Fostering Knowledge Exchange Through Collaboration and Participation: The Edinburgh Executive Sessions', (2012), Translational Criminology, pp 12-14

Alistair Henry, 'Daniel Donnelly, Municipal Policing in Scotland ', (2009), Edinburgh Law Review, Vol 13, pp 548-50

Alistair Henry, 'Book Review: Governing Security: Explorations in Policing and Justice', (2005), Social and Legal Studies, Vol 14, pp 440-1

Alistair Henry, 'J. W. E. Sheptycki, In Search of Transnational Policing: Towards a Sociology of Global Policing ', (2005), Edinburgh Law Review, Vol 9, pp 185-86

Alistair Henry, 'Alan Norrie, Punishment, Responsibility and Justice: A Relational Critique (Oxford: University Press, 2000) ', (2002), Edinburgh Law Review, Vol 6, pp 134-35

Alistair Henry, 'Book Review of Crawford (ed) The Local Government of Crime: Appeals to Community and Partnerships, Crawford (ed) Crime Prevention and Community Safety: Politics, Policies and Practices, and Gilling (ed) Crime Prevention: Theory, Policy and Politics ', (2000), Policing and Society, Vol 10, pp 403-08


Alistair Henry, Nick Fyfe, Adam Edwards, Sophie Chambers, 'Metropolitan policing agendas in Britain Divergent tendencies in a fragmenting state?' in Elke Devroe, Adam Edwards, Paul Ponsaers (ed.) Policing European Metropolises (Routledge 2017)

Alistair Henry, 'Police governance and accountability ' in Policing 2026 Evidence Review (Scottish Institute for Policing Research 2017) 89-104

Sarah Armstrong, Jarrett Blaustein, Alistair Henry, 'Impact and the reflexive imperative in criminal justice policy, practice and research ' in Reflexivity and criminal justice (Palgrave Macmillan 2017) 1-30

Alistair Henry, 'Reflexive academic-practitioner collaboration with the police ' in Sarah Armstrong, Jarrett Blaustein, Alistair Henry (ed.) Reflexivity and criminal justice (Palgrave Macmillan 2016) 169-190

Alistair Henry, Nicholas R. Fyfe, 'Police and Policing in Contemporary Urban Scotland Challenges and Responses' in Marc Cools, Sophie De Kimpe, Arne Dormaels, Marleen Easton (ed.) Police, Policing, Policy and the City in Europe (Boom Juridische Uitgevers 2010)

Alistair Henry, 'The Development of Community Safety in Scotland A Different Path?' in Adam Crawford (ed.) Crime Prevention Policies in Comparative Perspective (Willan Publishing 2009) 86-110

Alistair Henry, 'Policing and Ethnic Minorities ' in Alistair Henry, David J. Smith (ed.) Transformations of Policing (Ashgate Publishing 2007) 79-112

Alistair Henry, 'Looking Back on Police and People in London ' in David J. Smith, Alistair Henry (ed.) Transformations of Policing (Ashgate Publishing 2007) 1-23