Reassurance Policing and Signal Crimes

Andrew Millie

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A reassurance function for policing was first considered by American psychologist Charles Bahn (1974: 338) as “feelings of safety that a citizen experiences when he knows that a police officer or patrol car is nearby.” This idea was taken forward in Britain by Martin Innes and colleagues in the early 2000s through the development of a signal crimes perspective. At this time, British policing implemented a National Reassurance Policing Programme (NRPP) where local policing priorities were decided through consultation with local communities. The impact of reassurance policing has since spread and the approach has also been considered in Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Sweden. In this entry, the background to reassurance policing is considered with particular reference to the work of Charles Bahn and Martin Innes and colleagues. The development of a policy of reassurance policing in Britain is also examined. The successes and limitations of the approach are considered and three main issues identified: that reassurance needs to be a consideration for all policing; that increases in visible patrol need to be questioned (especially at a time of budget restraint); and that reassurance policing has the potential to be a model of democratic policing, but only if consultation is truly inclusive, for instance, including those that have been victimized and groups that have been targets of police activity such as young people, the homeless, and other minority and marginalized groups.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice
EditorsGerben Bruinsma, David Weisburd
Place of PublicationNew York
ISBN (Print)978-1-4614-5690-2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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