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Reducing Fear of Crime Through Police Visibility: A Field Experiment

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice Policy Review Volume: 1 Issue: 4 Dated: (December 1986) Pages: 381-398
F W Winkel
Date Published
18 pages
This Dutch field experiment confirms hypotheses regarding the positive impact of police visibility on citizens' fear of crime and other citizen attitudes toward crime and the police.
On the basis of theoretical premises and previous empirical research this study hypothesizes that increased police visibility will decrease the public's fear of crime, lower the subjective estimates of victimization risk, and strengthen police-community relations. The experimental group consisted of 386 subjects who answered questions about crime and non-crime problems in their neighborhoods in the presence of a police officer. A control group of 587 subjects were surveyed without the presence of a police officer, using the same questionnaire as was used with the experimental group. Compared to the control group, the the experimental group showed less fear of crime, projected lower subjective victimization rates, and were more positive about police-citizen relations. These results underscore the importance of experimenting with alternative patrol strategies that increase police visibility and police contact with citizens in circumstances other than crime reports. Some suggestions are foot patrols, door-to-door contacts, storefront offices, and police residential security surveys. 4 tables, 22-item bibliography. (Author abstract modified)


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