Police and the Public in England and Wales. Home Office Research Study No. 117.
London: HMSO, 1990.
This report examines the extent of public contact with police, and some of the consequences
of their encounters. It is based on the findings of the third sweep of the British Crime Survey
(BCS), which was conducted in February and March of 1988. Police are the most visible
agency of local government. The BCS indicates that in a little over a year almost 60 percent
of the adult population has some occasion to come into contact with them. One chapter
examines the reasons why people contact the police, including to report crimes, and their
satisfaction with the service they received. Another chapter details who gets stopped by the
police, what happened during those encounters, official complaints lodged against police,
and the effects of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE). Further chapters examine
crime reporting and stepping forward to serve as a witness. Unlike some other agencies,
police depend upon the active cooperation of the public to get their job done. They need to
be notified promptly of crime and other emergencies, and members of the public must be
willing to step forward when they have information which would be useful in their
investigations. Therefore, when the public think of the police is of more than casual interest.
They care about the quality of policing. Most have at least some basis for making a judgment
about police performance, and the police need their confidence. However, while the public
has a great deal of confidence in the police, there is also some reason for concern about the
direction in which opinion is moving.
Contacts Between Police and The Public: A British Crime Survey Report. Home
Office Research Study No. 135. London: HMSO, 1994.
This report presents some of the findings of the 1992 British Crime Survey (BCS) about
people’s experiences of and attitudes toward the police. In all, 54 percent of those
interviewed recalled some encounter with the police during the previous year. About a third
of respondents had contacted the police about some matter, 20 percent had been stopped
or investigated in some way, and 14 percent had been visited by police who were rendering
them some service. The report describes the reasons why people contacted the police, and
the circumstances under which the police stopped and questioned members of the public. It
also describes what happened during these encounters, and people’s assessments of how
the police had done their job. There is a discussion of trends in public satisfaction, and of
complaints initiated against the police. Another chapter examines in details the factors that
lie behind the reporting of crimes to the police. The report concludes that reporting is
strongly linked to the seriousness of crime, race, victim-offender relationships, fear of
reprisal, and insurance coverage.