Sunday, November 16, 2008

Marketing of Public Safety - The Dilemma

As a police officer studying Marketing as part of my MBA studies I have been interested in the role of marketing within the police service.
If the primary purpose of policing is to improve public safety it is essential that the police service address two critical issues. One is improving the actual safety of the public i.e. reducing crime rates and detecting reported crimes. The second is to reduce the fear of crime. The fear of crime refers to the fear of being a victim of crime as opposed to the actual probability of being a victim. The fear of crime can have a number of damaging effects on individual and community life.
The problem for the police service is that the fear of crime is often disproportionately higher than the actual crime rates. The dilemma for the police service is that in marketing police success and ‘actual crime rates’ only raises awareness of crime and disorder as an issue and as a consequence (I suspect) increases fears of becoming a victim. For example, a past initiative has been to inform local residents of the outcome of search warrants targeting local drug dealers. Whilst this may reassure some local residents and convince them that the police have been active and have addressed a local problem, for those that were previously unaware of the local drug problem the marketing of the operation has only alarmed them that they have drug dealers in their neighborhood.
I would be interested to receive your comments on this dilemma. I remain convinced that marketing has a positive contribution to make towards improving public safety I have just not yet figured out what it is.