Firstly my sincere thanks again to everyone for helping out with this project. I have had some brilliant support from many members of the police and public who have helped spread the word about it and got people following and ready to take part. I realise this has all taken some time to get to this point and thank you all for your patience.
Designing research questionnaires properly takes time and it has been important to make sure that: a) they ask the right questions and; b) they ask them in the right way. This process is nearly done and it won’t be long before they are published and the research can begin. I will be posting tweets to let people know when they can take part and will use the hashtag #fearofcrime as part of these.
So, how will this all work? When ready a link will be posted to the questionnaires and you will be able to access these and fill them in online. When you do this the data will be automatically stored in a secure database: there will be no hard copies of the questionnaires created at all.
There are going to be two questionnaires, one for the police who use Twitter and one for those who follow them. They will obviously have a different focus, but essentially each will be measuring your thoughts, feelings, attitudes and beliefs around either the use of social media, or your fear of crime.
I think it’s also important to clarify how the data that is gathered in this way will be treated and used for the research. As a psychologist, I am bound by the ethical code of my profession and that written by the British Psychological Society. Before the questionnaires are launched they, and the study itself, will be scrutinised by an ethics committee at the University to ensure they are ethically sound and meet the rigorous criteria for research.
Secondly, participation is entirely voluntary. No-one has to take part and full information will be provided to you, again via the online links, to enable you to decide if you wish to do so or not.
Thirdly, and related to this, the questionnaires will be entirely confidential. I will not be asking for any identifying information, just background information that will help the study (e.g., your gender and age range). I won’t know your name or where you come from. If you choose to fill in a questionnaire you will be given a unique identification code. If, for any reason, you decide that you want to withdraw your questionnaire from the study you can send a message to an email address that will be supplied and the data will be destroyed.
The data collected will only be used for the purposes of this study. It will be stored securely and only be used by myself. It will be analysed to understand the trends and relationships within it. This analysis will then form the basis of the findings of the research, findings that will be disseminated by publication and reports so that they will be made available to all.
As I’ve said in previous posts I believe this research can really help to properly understand the impact, if any, that social media in policing has on fear of crime. I’m not being funded to do this work by anyone and there is no hidden agenda here. I have no pre-conceptions in terms of what the work will show. What I do know, however, is that fear of crime can reduce liberty and prevent people from fully enjoying their lives and their communities. I think that furthering the understanding of these issues in any way we can is worthwhile, and I hope you do to.
Please let me know if you have any comments or questions about this and please keep letting people know about the study. Good research needs a lot of people to take part and I hope the Twitter community out there can really help get people involved. Thank you.