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Thursday, 25 March 2010

Direction of my research

I have just submitted an abstract for the 8th National Crime Mapping Conference. The details of which can be found here.

The following is a copy of that abstract. I include it in the blog because I think it gives a simple overview of the direction of my research. I also clearly identify the London Borough of Camden as my research case study. I hope to post more details of that research over the next couple of weeks.

"The police service in England and Wales operates using at least two different policing styles, operating in parallel. The first is vehicle patrol based, borough wide, reactive response policing which is tasked with attending and dealing with incidents in the minimum possible time. The second is foot patrol-based, ward specific, proactive neighbourhood policing. An over-emphasis on the first to the detriment of the second was blamed for the Reassurance Gap (RG) in 2001.

The RG is the difference between the level of recorded crime and the level of crime the public perceives. Police and policy makers understand that if the RG were allowed to widen, this would have a serious negative influence on the public’s confidence in the police. The solution was to invest in neighbourhood policing on the basis that this change in policing activity would have a positive influence on public confidence.

Increasing the level of public confidence in the police has now become the overarching performance indicator (PI) in England and Wales. No longer can police rely on achieving their performance targets by changing police activities to fit performance measures, as has previously been the case with measures based upon recorded crime and response times. Now the measures are external, and are derived using attitudinal surveys. The direct link between police activity and performance targets has been severed.

The more cynical may suggest that public perceptions are fickle and are manifestations of local geodemographic differences of location, and that as a consequence they have very little to do with police activities. This presentation will discuss the relationship between police activity and public confidence by outlining the results of a detailed study of the London Borough of Camden, using data from the Metropolitan Police Service, Camden Council and the Census of Population, alongside other relevant composite indices.

Five domains of data are compiled by the careful selection of data based on Incivility Theory, the Signal Crime Perspective, and environmental criminology theories. The five domains are:
• public demands on the police
• police activity
• characteristics of victims and offenders
• characteristics of people and places
• attitudinal survey data

The data in each of these domains are location-based and can be mapped at sub-ward level. The first three domains are characterised by detailed temporal data which allow an added dimension to be analysed. Once the data are compiled, variations and similarities between locations (and possibly times) can be identified in order to give indications of how police activities influence public confidence in the police. For instance, are the public more influenced by response times than by police addressing anti-social behaviour problems?

The lessons learnt from the Camden study will be used to create a London wide location based comparison system, that will identify how police might amend their activity patterns in order to increase public confidence."

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