Firstly, many thanks to all of you for the support that you have shown for this project. As I wrote recently, the use of social media like Twitter is become more and more prevalent among police, something that is great to see. It helps share information and promotes the fantastic work that they are doing. However it is important to understand, through careful scientific study, how this impacts on fear of crime in people who read it. The assumption is, and this could well prove to be the case, that this information is re-assuring and reduces people’s fear of victimisation. However, research may show that certain individuals find this information increases their anxiety about crime. Alternatively, it may show that certain types of information are more re-assuring than others. Either way, these are the kind of questions that this research is hoping to answer.
At present I am completing work on the questionnaire measures that will be used for this study. It is important that I get these right, and that they capture the sort of information that can help investigate this issue thoroughly. I am working on two questionnaires. The first will be designed for tweeting police and will focus on the use of Twitter and the content of tweets. The second will be for those who follow police and look at their perceptions of these messages, as well as measuring their feelings in relation to their fear of crime and how much they feel at risk of victimisation.
The plan is that these will then go online and people will be able to fill them in anonymously. Before the study commences it will go through a committee to ensure that it fulfils all of the ethical requirements that bind the research that psychologists do. Taking part will be entirely voluntary and there will be no way that individuals can be identified. I will provide more detail and updates about this as soon as I can.
In the meantime, though, I need your help. I have recruited a fair number of police who tweet to follow me on Twitter and therefore be contactable for when the project starts. What I also need, though, is to ask people who follow tweeting police to do the same. I want to try and avoid asking endlessly for re-tweets as I know this can prove annoying and off-putting. What would be brilliant, though, would be if all tweeting police, and even force accounts, could ask if their followers would be willing to follow me and take part in this research. If you aren’t a police officer and are reading this then the same applies, any help at all would be gratefully received.
Building support among the public for this research will be crucial and a tweet from yourselves, or your colleagues, would really help with this. As I mentioned, I truly believe in the value of this research and would be extremely grateful if you could help to spread the word. Please feel free to contact me with comments here, or via Twitter, with any questions you may have on this – and many thanks again.