Policing (WG) – Panel VIII
Chair: Jessica Phoenix
, Brian Francis
Title: Police Risk Assessment and Outcomes for Missing Persons
The number of missing person reports made to police forces in England and Wales and the proportion of those that are repeats is increasing (UK Missing Persons Bureau, 2017). Whilst the majority of these cases will be solved quickly and without harm, a small and complex proportion will reach severe and fatal outcomes. Under the constraints of funding challenges, police forces are faced with the task of identifying complex cases and appropriately allocating resources. Response is currently directed by the risk assessment tool given by the College of Policing (2017). Using data taken directly from one English police force’s information systems, this research presents a statistical analysis into the appropriateness of missing persons risk assessment. Regression models were built on individual risk factors to determine the key elements of a high risk case, and to understand the role of professional judgement in risk decision making. Survival analysis methods were applied to all case data to predict the probability of a case being resolved at any given time point. Key findings demonstrate that aspects of the risk assessment tool are redundant, new procedures for handling different missing person reports are needed, and the causes of repeat runaways need further investigation.
Keywords: Policing, risk assessment, missing persons, missing from home, police data
R Oliveira Thiago
, Krisztián Pósch
Title: Fear and Legitimacy in Sao Paulo: Does Police Legitimacy Predict Compliance in Low Trust, High Fear Contexts?
Do people’s sentiments regarding the legitimacy of the police increase their willingness to comply with the law in countries with predatory policing? In this paper, we contribute to the criminological literature on police legitimacy and legal compliance in two ways. First, we suggest a new measurement model of police legitimacy which is capable of tackling the complexity of (both) coercive and consensual police-citizen relations. Second, we bring the discussion to Brazil, a low trust and high fear environment. Drawing on data from a representative survey of adults in Sao Paulo, our analytical strategy involves three steps: (1) content analysis of the answers to an open-ended question on why one should (not) obey the police even when they disagree with them; (2) latent trait analysis to measure police legitimacy using the answers from the content analysis and commonly used survey questions on trust in, moral alignment with, and fear of the police; (3) ordinal regression model predicting legal compliance. Our analysis shows that the derived latent trait outperforms both the single-item measurement of duty to obey and the content analysis categories in its predictive power of legal compliance. Our paper shows how to overcome the difficulties of measurement in contexts such as Brazil where the rule of law and police legitimacy are often perceived to be threatened. Moreover, the results also signal that normative considerations do play a role even in hostile policing environments.
Keywords: Police legitimacy, Measurement, Brazil, Fear of police, Legal compliance
, Liz Aston
, Andrew Wooff
, Richard Whitecross
Title: Police Communication Using Social Media: Findings From An In-Depth Study in Scotland
The growth of the internet and mobile technology in the last decade has underlined for the police, a need to be on social media. In turn, police forces globally have spent more time and resources on communicating with citizens using digital platforms. At the same time, research has attempted to better understand why and how social media is used in policing. However, little is known about how social media is embedded within everyday policing or about the police audience on social media. This is explored in this paper. This draws on current research on communication between the police and citizens via social media in Scotland. Fieldwork was carried out between November 2016 and August 2017 across two case study locations. Altogether, 41 semi-structured interviews and 120 hours participant observation were conducted with police officers and officials. In addition, 4 focus groups were carried out with citizens. Finally, analysis of several police Facebook and Twitter accounts captured engagement between the police and users online. Findings from this study reveal how police use of social media ties in with everyday policing and in particular community and local policing. This includes an appreciation of people’s perceptions, needs and expectations of policing. Overall, this points to the opportunities and challenges for the police using social media.
Keywords: Policing, Technology, Social Media, Legitimacy, Public Confidence
Title: Equip Police More Like Batman and Less Like G.I. Joe
The proliferation of certain military equipment (specifically assault rifles) among police departments has had adverse effects on the mission of policing. These items were designed for the context of war and they have little policing utility and often substitute for more appropriate tools from an officer’s equipment belt. This research tries to explain why this type equipment is bad for the police mission and why it actually makes it harder for the police to do their jobs.
More troubling, “Maslow’s Law”—that when one is using a hammer, everything looks like a nail—has increased violent interactions between civilians and police and made officers’ jobs more difficult. And although the police mission sometimes requires the blunt force of the dispassionate hammer, law enforcement professionals are peace officers— not soldiers—and thus they should be equipped for the enormous and diverse set of roles they play in their communities. They are social workers, peace keepers, and law enforcement officers all wrapped up into one. Indeed, as Sir Robert Peel, who was instrumental in helping create modern policing, mused: “the police are the people and the people are the police.”
What police do need to face the challenges going forward are better, more emotionally and intellectually equipped colleagues, better training and professional development opportunities, and a more efficacious and responsible policy with respect to resource sharing between the military and police.
Keywords: Police, Militarization, Police Equipment