Recent decades have seen a growing 'pluralisation' of policing providers and authorisers in liberal democracies (Crawford 2003, Johnston and Shearing 2003). Some have interpreted this as part of a major transformation of policing in western liberal democracies that reflects fundamental shifts in the nature of governance (Bayley and Shearing 1996, 2001). Others have stressed continuities with the recent history of policing and the persistence of significant national and local differences in policing structures (Jones and Newburn 2002, Ferret 2004). These discussions have some parallels with wider debates about convergence and divergence in penality and the ways in which structural and cultural shifts influence policy developments across different societies (Garland 2001). We here examine recent changes in policing within two EU countries - Britain and the Netherlands. This paper discusses areas of similarity and difference in plural policing developments, and speculates about what factors might explain these. There is evidence of structural and cultural shifts working to shape policing in similar ways, but also of the mediating influence of distinctive national and local political institutions and cultures. These particular contexts provide possibilities for the resistance and re-shaping of global forces, as well as provide a framework for the emergence of distinct policy innovations. © 2009 Taylor & Francis.