A summary of the existing research evidence, with links to more detailed information - part of our overview of "What works in policing to reduce crime".
Just having more people or responding more quickly to calls from the public (unless the suspect is on the scene) does not necessarily reduce crime or reassure people. Patrolling on foot can reduce crime where it is targeted in crime hotspots, and it also reassures the public when it sends out a signal that the police are taking action.
To cut crime and reassure the public, careful analysis is needed to make sure officers and staff are doing the right things (including patrol) at the right times and in the right places. The police also need to make sure they find out what matters to the public and why, and tackle these problems.
Read more: The impact of police numbers on crime rates
Read more: The effectiveness of visible police patrol