Public perceptions of community policing and measuring public attitudes

Dr Ben Bradford, LSE Fellow at the Methodology Institute, London School of Economics
Public perceptions of policing – ‘trust and confidence’ – have become an issue of key concern to policy-makers and police managers in recent years. Such interest was based initially on a rather narrow desire to improve customer satisfaction and reassure the ‘law abiding majority’. More recently, however, attention has turned toward the importance of trust and police legitimacy among all members of the public, and also toward the positive benefits that might flow from enhanced trust in terms of deference, cooperation and compliance with the law. There is increasing evidence that just such effects can be identified. Yet there remain significant issues with regard to transforming academic and policy debates into action on the ground. This workshop session will
explore some of the key issues surrounding public opinion of the police from both academic and police perspectives. Key questions will be: what is trust and confidence (and why should we care); what are the key drivers of public opinion; how can we measure abstract constructs like trust and legitimacy, and how can any improvements be assessed; and how can the findings of public opinion research be applied in the real world of day-to-day policing?

All welcome, although places are limited to 70 so please book by email with

Venue: Lecture theatre, Police Headquarters
5 Fettes Avenue
Edinburgh EH4 1RB