Policing for Democracy or Democratically Responsive Policing? Examining the Limits of Externally Driven Police Reform

Andy Aitchison*, Jarrett Blaustein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper engages with literatures on democratic policing in established and emerging democracies and argues for disaggregating democratic policing into two more precise terms: policing for democracy and democratically responsive policing. The first term captures the contribution of police to securing and maintaining wider democratic forms of government, while the second draws on political theory to emphasise arrangements for governing police actors based on responsiveness. Applying two distinct terms helps to highlight limitations to external police assistance. The terms are applied in an exploratory case study of fifteen years of police reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). The paper highlights early work securing the necessary conditions for political democracy in BiH but argues that subsequent EU-dominated interventions undermine responsiveness. A recent UNDP project suggests that external actors can succeed in supporting democratically responsive policing where they do not have immediate security interests at stake.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)496-511
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Journal of Criminology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • democracy
  • European Union
  • policing
  • responsiveness

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