Mannekla lögreglu og mjúk löggæsla í dreifbýli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study maps police staffing in Iceland since 2007 from a European
comparative perspective and analyses the main challenges and practices of rural police
officers using secondary data and interviews with 23 police officers who have worked in
rural areas. Iceland had 648 working police officers in 2017, a 9% reduction since 2007.
Iceland’s population increased by 10% during this time period. In 2018, Iceland had among
the fewest police officers (185) per 100.000 inhabitants in Europe and experienced Europe’s
most significant reduction in the number of police officers from 2009-2018 (29.1%).
Concurrently, the number of tourists grew almost fivefold. Population growth, a tourism
boom, and declining police staffing have negatively affected policing, particularly rural
policing. The interviews show that the main challenges rural police officers experience are
understaffing, overwork, an extensive range of tasks with little backup, and a blurring of
work and home. To meet these challenges, officers must develop a broad skill set and be
innovative in activating the community’s social capital. Most importantly, officers must
develop excellent communication skills centred on dialogue, de-escalation, and soft policing
to maintain trust and consensus. Community social capital, rooted in high-trust, cooperation,
and informal social control, helps rural police officers in this regard.
Original languageIcelandic
Pages (from-to)41-61
Number of pages21
JournalÍslenska þjóðfélagið.
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2021

Other keywords

  • Police
  • Understaffing
  • Rural areas
  • Challenges
  • Practice

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