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Using research to inform policy: the role of public attitude surveys in understanding public confidence and police contact

Oxford University Press
Publication Date
  • Hv Social Pathology. Social And Public Welfare. Criminology


This article summarises evidence on contact and confidence from the British Crime Survey and surveys conducted by the Metropolitan Police Service. First, falls in public confidence over the last 20 years have been mirrored by growing dissatisfaction with personal contact. Second, while poorly handled encounters with the police can have a significant negative impact on subsequent confidence, there is some recent evidence that wellhandled contacts can have a small but positive impact. More promisingly, high visibility and feeling informed about police activities are both associated with greater confidence in policing. Finally, we discuss how the Metropolitan Police Service is using survey data to improve police handling of interactions with the public. Communication between officers and the public – of information, of fairness and respect, and of police presence – appears to be of central importance.

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