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Behaviour in Police-Public Encounters

NCJ Number
Howard Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 26 Issue: 2 Dated: (May 1987) Pages: 153-163
P Southgate
Date Published
11 pages
A recent study of encounters between uniformed police officers and members of the public in Great Britain looked at the nature of behavior in such encounters and provided material for the development of police training in human skills.
A team of 6 observers, accompanying a sample of 149 uniformed police constables in London, Birmingham, and Bristol for 4 months, recorded data on 981 street encounters of all kinds. The data considered the questions: how do uniformed officers and members of the public behave towards each other during street encounters; what demeanor and tone of voice do they adopt towards one another and does this behavior change appreciably during the encounter; how much does one person's behavior reflect that of the other person; and how far does behavior depend on the nature of the encounter and role of the person involved with the officer? The vast majority of street encounters were judged to be friendly and polite, with hostility or rudeness rising in only 1 in 10 encounters and in only 1 in 50 involving citizen and officer. Hostility was most common when the citizen was a suspect, and the officer then displayed the hostility. 1 note, 3 tables, and 21 references.


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