The Tweeting Police and Fear of Crime Project

If you have been kind enough to find this post through a link on Twitter then you will be aware that I am hoping to carry out some research on the use of Twitter by the police and the impact that this may have on fear of crime in the people that follow them. Let me try and explain the reasons for this as briefly as I can…

Many years of research in psychology have shown than us humans are very much driven in our behaviour by what we think and feel. Our attitudes, beliefs, thoughts and feelings are something that we develop over time, and are processes that are very much influenced by the world around us. None of us exist in a bubble and we tend to form our attitudes and beliefs in one of two key ways: either through the direct experience of an event (seeing it happen or it happening to us), or by what we are told. This is somewhat oversimplifying things but the principle holds true.

So for many of us our understanding of something only comes through what we learn through other people or from what we read, and see, in the many forms of media that surround us. One example of this would be what we think about, and feel about, the issue of crime. If we have been unfortunate enough to be a victim of crime then this will clearly impact on what we feel about it. Obviously even among people who have never been victims of crime the generally held view of it is still negative. That said, people will still vary in terms of how much they feel at risk of crime and the fear they have of becoming a victim of it.

Essentially then these variable beliefs and attitudes that people hold about crime related issues can  impact on people in a number of ways. They may, for example, influence their behaviour, making them worried about going to certain places or out at certain times. They will also impact on other thoughts that they have, for example those that relate to their feelings of safety and security, all of which feed into feelings of well-being.

We are also all influenced, to varying degrees, by how much information we receive about a certain issue. Repeated exposure to information can affect us in different ways. In certain circumstances it lead us to become de-sensitised to something, in others it may m ake us more anxious or worried. Again, I’m over-simplifying here but this can be the case.

So, psychology lesson over. The key issue here is that police officers are increasingly using twitter to share information with other officers and the public. There are two key things that interest me here and that I’d like your help in researching. Firstly how is twitter used by the police? I’d like to ask officers to help me with a questionnaire that will examine the ways this is used and the kinds of information that is shared.

Secondly, how does this impact on the levels of fear, and perceived risk,  of crime in those that read this information? For this I will use another set of measures to examine these factors in people who follow the police on twitter and compare this with others who may not. I realise that this is only one way in which we are exposed to crime information and will designing the study to take these factors into account. Overall I’d like to answer questions such as whether followers feel re-assured by the information they receive or whether it increases their anxiety.

There is still a way to go in terms of getting the project up and running as it is a complex undertaking to do this through the internet. However I am working on online questionnaires that will, hopefully, be ready quite soon and will publish links to these as soon as I can. I will also update progress on here as often as needed!

I hope that this has helped clarify things and that it you are a tweeing police officer, or someone who follows one (or more) that you be willing to take part. Many thanks for reading!

23 Responses to The Tweeting Police and Fear of Crime Project

  1. Ruth Langley says:

    Not a police officer but do follow several twitter accounts especially my own neighbourhood. Happy to take part in research

  2. Tim Burrows says:

    I’d be happy to take part. Perhaps you could create a private form for people to provide contact information / the like to create your database.

  3. Pingback: Guest Blog: Mental Health and Crime | MentalHealthCop

  4. Hi there, I’m working on a couple of projects with Police forces which look at how you might have community policing effects (such as reduction in fear of crime) using digital channels – would be very interested in talking more about this.

    I can be found here: http://curiouscatherine.wordpress.com/

    Catherine

  5. I am a prospective candidate for Police & Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, a former police officer and self confessed “twitaddict”. I’m also doing a doctoral study myself on organisational behaviour. Would be happy to support/assist in anyway I can.

  6. I’m happy to give my views.

  7. Ann Wagg says:

    Follow several officers around the country hast to complete a questionnaire.

  8. Miranda Lever says:

    I follow tweets from various police officers so also happy to help.

  9. David Woods says:

    I will help out if I can and would love to see the results

  10. Prof Feltes says:

    Couleur you please contact me? I am very Interesses in your research.
    Thanks
    Thomas

  11. Jane Burtenshaw-Kindlen says:

    Hapoy to take part, send me an email, Jane

  12. Met with Elaine Howard this morning and had good chat – she mentioned you and though we should link up. Please see one of my recent blogs and link to our website: http://www.grantmoarcommunities.com/bobby-on-the-tweet-social-media-community-policing-and-engagement-in-the-21st-century/
    – I have also been involved with commisssioning Fear of Crime surveys and very keen to discuss furrther some ideas around social media and shifting notions of perceptions of crime AND deviance – both imbued with ideological and technological developments in the fin de siecle and Noughties.
    Kind regards
    Laurence Grant
    http://www.grantmoarcommunities.com
    Twitter: lolgrant7
    Facebook: Grant Moar Communities

    • Hi Laurence,

      Many thanks for your contact and your comments and apologies for the delayed reply. You work and ideas sound exciting so I’ll be in touch in more detail soon so that we can perhaps discuss this further.

      Kind regards, Jez

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