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Does the fear of crime erode public confidence in policing?

Jackson, J., Bradford, B., Hohl, K. & Farrall, S. (2009). Does the fear of crime erode public confidence in policing?. Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, 3(1), pp. 100-111. doi: 10.1093/police/pan079


This paper examines the relationship between public confidence in policing and public perceptions of crime, disorder and social cohesion. Combining data from ten sweeps of the British Crime Survey, our analysis suggests that public confidence is based less on instrumental concerns about crime and more on expressive concerns about neighbourhood stability and breakdown. Therefore, confidence may be driven not by fear of crime but by lay concerns about disorder, cohesion and informal social control. Members of the public look to the police as old-fashioned representatives of community values and norms—as symbols of moral authority who address everyday problems and strengthen social order. To increase public confidence and decrease the fear of crime, the police need to re-engage as an active part of the community and represent and defend community values, norms and morals. We conclude, however, by questioning whether a pervasive (Loader (2006). “Policing, Recognition and Belonging.” The Annals of the American Academy 605: 201–221) police response to problems of low-level social disorder is either fully achievable or fully desirable. The causes of public anxiety about disorder may themselves run deeper than a policing response can (or should) reach.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Policing following peer review. The version of record, Jackson, Jonathan and Bradford, Ben and Hohl, Katrin and Farrall, Stephen (2009) Does the fear of crime erode public confidence in policing? Policing: a journal of policy and practice, 3 (1) pp. 100-111, is available online at: 10.1093/police/pan079
Publisher Keywords: Public confidence in policing; fear of crime; disorder; social cohesion.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
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