Police Stations, Architecture and Public Reassurance

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19 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Architecture has for many years been of interest to criminology in terms of its role in social control and crime prevention. This article focuses on architecture as reassurance and the specific example of the police station what is an under-researched topic. Supporting evidence is presented from a study of police stations in three English police forces. The study’s aims were modest and exploratory, to draw on theoretical and empirical evidence to consider whether police stations are a worthwhile area of criminological/architectural study, and to investigate the possibility that police stations could contribute to public reassurance. Using the language of semiotics, the article argues that meanings attached to police stations can contribute to reassurance by affecting people’s emotive ‘readings’ of security and safety; yet, to do this, there has to be a rethink for many existing stations in terms of what these buildings communicate. The article adopts an interpretivist view of meaning acknowledging that buildings can mean different things to different people. It is suggested that numerous police stations can be read as intimidating fortresses; many others are secret places; while others are potentially public buildings where the public are welcomed. Implications for a policy of reassurance are discussed in light of the current cuts to police budgets. An agenda for further systematic research is suggested.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1092-1112
JournalThe British Journal of Criminology
Volume52
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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