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Public reassurance following a collective trauma event: a scoping review of the evidence to inform police practice

Lyndal Hickey (Department of Social Work, Melbourne School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia)
Louise Harms (Department of Social Work, Melbourne School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia)
Lauren Kosta (Department of Social Work, Melbourne School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 4 May 2021

Abstract

Purpose

This paper examines the empirical research on police reassurance following a collective trauma event (CTE).

Design/methodology/approach

Using a scoping review methodology, this paper sought to establish the extent, range and nature of published literature on policing responses to collective traumatic events, and to identify key features of this form of direct practice. Included papers needed to focus on police responses oeassurance with the public related to events (pre-or post) that could be regarded as collective trauma events by nature or scale. Searches were conducted using the Web of Science, SCOPUS and PsychINFO databases for literature published between January 2000 and December 2019.

Findings

Fourteen articles met the inclusion criteria. The key themes identified: (1) measuring the impact of reassurance and community policing; (2) community attitudes to policing and social disorder/critical events; (3) police workforce responses to traumatic events; and (4) interventions to support police to respond to their community.

Research limitations/implications

Future research needs to examine the elements that create a robust organisational infrastructure that can withstand the demands of policing in ordinary and extraordinary times. Fundamental to the studies in this review is the relationship between the police agencies and the community. The nature of this relationship and how it can be strengthened to ameliorate the negative impact of CTEs in communities needs further exploration.

Originality/value

This paper provides important findings that can inform future reassurance policing practice and research.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors wish to thank the Victoria Police Project Advisory Group: Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius (North West Metro Region), Assistant Commissioner Chris O’Neill (Transit and Public Safety Command), Commander Tim Hansen (North West Metro Region), Dr. David Ballek (Capability Department), Sandra Higgins (North West Metro Region) for their guidance in conducting this research. The authors also wish to acknowledge former Assistant Commissioner Debra Abbott, who is now the Deputy Emergency Management Commissioner, for instigating this work while she was at Victoria Police.

Funding: This project was contracted by the Victoria Police, Victoria, Australia (University of Melbourne: Themis Reference ID# 300602).

Declaration of conflicting interests: The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.

Citation

Hickey, L., Harms, L. and Kosta, L. (2021), "Public reassurance following a collective trauma event: a scoping review of the evidence to inform police practice", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/PIJPSM-11-2020-0177

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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