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Pandemic policing: public attitudes towards compliance and organisational resilience

The UK’s Covid-19 response has provided the police with new powers which potentially impinge upon civil liberties, altering the nature of policing activities. National policing bodies have encouraged a compliance not coercion approach based upon the 4 E’s of Engage, Explain, Encourage and Enforce. In an innovative collaboration between the University of Portsmouth and Hampshire Constabulary, this research considers the impact of pandemic policing on the police and the public. It seeks to analyse the experiences of police officers and police leaders in exceptional circumstances and to explore the physical and psychological challenges of pandemic policing. This knowledge will provide evidence of i) organisational resilience, risk identification and effective decision-making, ii) strategies for the maintenance of future service delivery and iii) the impact of pandemic policing on police wellbeing. The research will also consider how the worldviews of individuals influence their perceptions of Covid-19 restrictions, their willingness to comply and key drivers of compliance/non-compliance which will shape the medium-long term police response. This knowledge will provide evidence of iv) effective policing in a crisis, v) public satisfaction/confidence in the police, vi) whether and for how long the public are willing to suspend their civil liberties and vii) factors that underlie any social/spatial variability. The link between perceptions of police legitimacy and willingness to comply means this understanding is crucial. Research findings will be scaled up into evidenced-based policing policies/practices nationally and its impact assessed and practices modified over the period of the crisis and beyond.

Lead investigator:

Sarah Charman


University of Portsmouth

Primary topic:

Attitudes, media & governance

Secondary topic:

Health, physical & mental

Region of data collection:


Country of data collection


Status of data collection


Type of data being collected:

Survey (other/unclear)

Unit of real-time data collection



Periodic (other)