If police are perceived as legitimate, communities are more likely to assist in the fight against crime making policework easier and resources go further. The problem is, members of a diverse community may view the police in different ways making it difficult for police to be everything to everyone. This study reveals two strands of emerging vulnerability in relation to law and order in a rapidly urbanising area, affecting perceptions of police legitimacy for both groups. The study also demonstrated the relationship between global processes and local issues. The chapter draws on data from a larger study which explored the legitimacy of Victoria Police in the Monash Local Government Area in Melbourne, Australia. Community perceptions of the police were collected during 6 focus groups and 18 interviews. For the past decade, Monash had experienced declining results in the government’s quarterly policing survey in areas that assessed police legitimacy. This research utilised qualitative methods to gather detailed community opinions, in contrast to the quantitative government survey. The chapter focusses on the key finding that there had been many changes in Monash during the preceding decade, including intense urbanisation and increased ethnic diversity. However, police services had not been correspondingly increased or diversified and were not thought adequate to respond to current demands. As a result, community members felt vulnerable and this influenced community perceptions of Victoria Police. Rapid urbanisation has implications for police legitimacy. It is important that police services and infrastructure are not neglected during periods of urban change in order to mitigate feelings of vulnerability in different communities.
Schermuly, A.C. (2019), "Urbanisation, Vulnerability and Police Legitimacy", Forbes-Mewett, H. (Ed.) Vulnerability in a Mobile World, Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 47-69. https://doi.org/10.1108/978-1-78756-911-920191006
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