The article will analyse the concept of community policing in Norway. The analyses will mainly be based on three important publications, the white-paper “The Role of the Police in Society” from 1981, “The Police reform 2000. A Safer Society” from 2000 and “The Role and Tasks of the Police” published in 2005. The concept community policing, which to a high degree is American, is not easily translatable to Nordic languages. In Norway in the 80s and early 90s the term near police “nærpoliti” or local police was popular, and primarily used to describe organisational reforms in eastern parts of Oslo and certain other towns of Norway.
The term is to a certain degree still in use at least in official publications, but it has in many ways changed in content and meaning. Holmberg (2004) has described the rise and fall of community policing in Scandinavia. His general description of a loss of momentum and recession in the development of community policing is supported here. This paper starts out with the hypotheses that the idea of community policing gradually lost its importance in Norway for two reasons. The first explanation has to do with the still rather strong and popular local police, the Lensmann (sheriff). Norway, which is a largely rural society, is divided into 374 sheriff districts. This means that the sheriff is a well known person and institution for many Norwegians. This type of community policing has a tradition that stretches back more than a thousand years. The other reason is that the general ideals and goals stated in official publications and papers for the Norwegian police harmonise to a very high degree with the ideals of community policing. This means that the idea of community policing already is deeply rooted as a central value concerning the police.