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Visible Policing

Visible Policing logoPolice visibility today spans across physical and digital spaces as police officers, police staff, and citizens interact face-to-face and through social media. This project was the first to explore the visual culture of contemporary policing and the impact of this on citizen-focused policing more broadly.

Three strands of visibility were explored in the project:

  • The symbolic power of police stations. This is particularly important since the architecture and location of buildings changes, and as pressure on resources leads to co-location with other agencies in shared premises.
  • The symbolic artefacts of police culture, including ceremonial uniforms, flags, badges, tourist souvenirs, and children’s toys. This strand will incorporate analysis in terms of the organisational and professional identity of police staff, as well as public perceptions.
  • Police visibility in social media, including official police accounts as well as those owned by individual officers, staff associations and other networks. These will be considered in terms of their impact on the public, including whether the police online can provide public reassurance in ways similar to ‘real world’ foot patrol.

The project was delivered with four police services from the north of England and employed visual research methods (including photo elicitation) with public and professional stakeholders. The visual theme continues into our dissemination. Alongside high-quality peer reviewed articles in leading journals the team have commissioned a documentary film and photo book that will disseminate findings more widely among professional and public audiences.

The project has led to a series of podcasts, exploring visual culture, policing and criminology. In these podcasts, Professor Mike Rowe, Professor Andrew Millie, Dr Matt Jones, and Liam Ralph engage with a number of experts who specialise in all things related to the visual, from policing and criminology to methods and photography. Music by Joseph McDade. Listen to the podcasts

Visit the Visible Policing website 

The project was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (Ref ES/R011885/1) and the research team are based at Northumbria, Open and Edge Hill universities.


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