Police 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 will be 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 are explored in the project:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Who we are

We are a team of researchers based at Northumbria University, Edge-Hill University, and The Open University carrying out this project in collaboration with West Yorkshire Police, Greater Manchester Police, and The College of Policing. More information relating to each of these can be found in the ‘people’ and ‘partners’ sections.