I allmänhetens tjänst: Om förtroendeskapande områdespolisarbete
For the police to be successfull it is necessary for the public to have enough confidence in the police so that they are prepared to report crimes and in other ways participate in criminal investigations. In some residential areas, that are perceived as particularly crime ridden and insecure, the police ability to protect the inhabitants can come into question. To remedy the trust deficit the police in the Swedish region of Västra Götaland has established local police forces with a specific mission to create confidence in the police in particularly vulnerable areas. But how is the police to work in order to gain public trust? By highlighting how trust and distrust between police and residents are expressed in local policing, this study sought to understand how local police officers' working-methods affect public confidence in the police force at large. The empirical material consists of qualitative data from participating observations and interviews. The study have been set apart geographically to the residential areas of Hjällbo, Hammarkullen and Eriksbo in Göteborg. Data collection took place in two waves. The first from March 2011 to June the same year and consists of a total of 55 hours of partici - pating observations of local police work and a focus group interview with the police, and resulted in pilot-study in October 2011. The work continued in the spring of 2012, with observations and interviews with parents and residents which produced another 15 hours of observations, 20 field interviews and four longer interviews. Encoding and analysis was done in a three-dimensional array. In the first dimension the different work moments in local policing was identified and encoded. Together with a second dimension of theory based concepts a third result dimension could be created. Local police officers are building confidence in the police authority in two main ways. Through a direct trust-building police work that is characterised by the fact that the police are visible, accessible and available for interaction and through an indirect trust-building police work that creates confidence by maintaining law and order in a way that the public expects. Combining the two involves some difficulties. Police suspicion and surveillance of individuals and groups in the later method can easily turn into a control caused distrust which reduces earned trust capital from the first. Cooperation with other authorities, local actors and inhabitants can be a fruitful way to create, maintain and rebuild public trust in the police.