“Survey Assessments of Police Performance” In Mike Hough and Mike
Maxfield (eds.), Surveying Crime in the 21st Century. Crime Prevention
Studies, 22 (2007), 165-181.

This article considers the British Crime Survey (BCS) as a vehicle for monitoring police
performance. The BCS has two complimentary foci on the police: monitoring reports of
general confidence in the police and tracking encounters between police and the
public. These raise substantive and methodological issues, and have implications for
survey design. Among these are response validity, or the issue of whether "confidence"
questions actually reflect the quality of policing on the ground. We also need to ensure
that the measurement process measures what it does with maximal accuracy. This
paper reviews validity and reliability issues in the context of assessing general
confidence and tracking public encounters with the police. It calls for a program of
methodological research to document the error structure of the data and guide
improvements and decisions about key features of the survey.
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