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Feelings of Safety: Ironic Consequences of Police Patrolling


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Evelien van de Veer, Marketing and Consumer Behaviour, Wageningen University, Hollandseweg 1, 6706 KN Wageningen, The Netherlands. E-mail:


Increasing police patrolling is often assumed to be an effective means of enhancing general feelings of safety. This relationship between perceiving police and feelings of safety was tested by having police officers patrol during a field experiment (Study 1) and by manipulating the police presence in pictures of neighborhoods in a laboratory experiment (Study 2). Both studies show that in environments that are generally considered to be safe, feelings of safety are not increased by police presence. Moreover, men feel less safe when police are present compared with when police are absent. The results are discussed in terms of possible underlying mechanisms and implications for police patrolling.

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