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
Police-Public Encounters Abstracts