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Feelings of Safety in the Presence of the Police, Security Guards, and Police Volunteers


Doyle et al. (2015)


Uniformed presence is commonly thought to create feelings of safety in people. However, do differently uniformed people contribute to an equal amount of safety and are there situation-dependent differences? The present study examined the association between various types of uniformed presence and people’s feelings of safety through a questionnaire among 352 respondents (18–86 years) (49.1 % women). The questionnaire contained pictures of situations perceived as relatively safe and unsafe with or without uniformed presence.


The respondents estimated how safe they thought they would feel in these situations with: 1) No uniformed officers; 2) Two police officers; 3) Six police officers; 4) A police vehicle; 5) Two security guards; or 6) Two police volunteers.


1) Uniformed presence did not increase feelings of safety in a situation perceived as relatively safe, making patrol unnecessary.

2) In situations perceived as relatively unsafe however, all types of uniformed presence increased feelings of safety. 3) Foot patrolling police contributed to the greatest increase in feelings of safety. 4) Security guards and police volunteers created similar amounts of feelings of safety making police volunteers a cost-effective alternative. 5) All types of foot patrol were better than vehicle patrol, making non-police groups an alternative to vehicle patrol.


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