Video research to reveal public perceptions of police

The research is designed to delve into police–public encounters and identify features of which the public approves or disapproves.

It will be led by policing expert Professor Peter Waddington, who is Director of the University’s History and Governance Research Institute, and hopes the findings will lead to improvements in the relationship between the police and the wider public.

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has awarded a £98,000 grant for the research to be carried out.

Professor Waddington said: “Previous research indicates that whilst most people value the police as an institution, their experience of contact with police officers is less favourable. “

The team will examine what it is that leaves people with an unflattering impression and what is the good practice of which people approve.

Professor Waddington added: “It is also well–established that attitudes to the police are least favourable amongst the young and ethnic minorities, and also varies with lifestyle. We have designed our research to examine why people hold such different views of the police.”

The research will be conducted through focus groups comprising younger and older people from across a range of ethnic minorities and lifestyles.

They will be shown exactly the same video–clips of police–citizen encounters and asked to discuss why they approve or disapprove of the behaviour of the officers depicted. Those discussions will then be analysed in detail.

Professor Waddington said: “We hope this will help improve police–public relations by enabling officers to appreciate how others perceive and evaluate their actions.”

Further information

For more information please contact Emma Kilvert in the Press Office on 01902 322003.

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest funding agency for research and postgraduate training relating to social and economic issues. It supports independent, high quality research which impacts on business, the public sector and the third sector. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and research policy institutes. More at


The History and Governance Research Institute at the University of Wolverhampton promotes high quality research in the fields of history, Law and governance, and is made up of around 40 staff and 50 postgraduate research students. For more information see

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