The aim of this project is to improve public confidence in police through improved community policing in Essex. Research has shown that neighbourhood policing can improve public confidence through the three mechanisms of visibility (foot patrol), community engagement and problem-solving (Tuffin, 2006): not just whether police are there, but what exactly they do when they are. However, how these mechanisms can and should be used can differ from place to place. The aim of the proposed research is to explore how the current structure of community policing and its operation in practice contributes towards public confidence in policing in Essex, and to identify strategies to boost its visibility, accessibility, and to improve confidence. Specific strategies for improving public confidence in the short and long term will be developed for Essex local community policing teams.
To address these research aims, a number of phases will be conducted. The first phase of the research will be an evidence review to understand what knowledge and best practice exists. This will focus on existing research that has identified key community policing strategies that show improved confidence in police. The next phase will be to utilise structured qualitative methods to understand how community policing is undertaken in Essex. This will focus on two Community Policing Teams in Essex, where focus groups and in-depth interviews will be conducted with community policing officers and key informants in local communities. Results from these phases will inform a series of responses and strategies aimed at improving the exercise of community policing in Essex with a view to increasing public confidence.