Public confidence in the police : the impact of verbal encounters
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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The main part of ordinary police work consists of patrolling and answering calls, which means that most police officers are in a daily and direct contact with members of the public. During such encounters, especially if they take place by means of a telephone, language not only provides an important means to solve problems and exert social control, but it also helps to build relations, as well as to inspire confidence and trust. In this way, the communication process between police and the public provides the basis for police legitimacy and consequently, for successful police work. This article examines the impact of verbal communication between police officers and members of the public during day-to-day encounters, and shows how the linguistic and interactional choices of the police, e.g. when formulating a rejection or answering a request, may affect their relationship with the public in general, in positive as well as negative ways.
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