Law Enforcement and Local Media: Who is Influencing Who?

Barbra Van Gestel, NSCR

What role do local media (newspapers, broadcasting) play with respect to the formulating, planning and execution of intervention strategies? Do local media set agendas of police and local government? Or do police and local government use local media for informing the public and influence public opinion? On the one hand, journalists publish about crime and safety, trying to show to police and authorities the urgency of certain crime and safety issues. At the other hand, police use the media to make clear what special intervention programs they consider or perform, and to enhance their public image. The interplay of this type of mutual influences is the topic of the present research.

In the last few years, police force in one of the dutch cities has set up a special intervention scheme against drugs-related disorder on the street, in which CCTV and more surveillance have been introduced. In this paper we try to reconstruct the decision process to launch this scheme, and especially what role the local media have played. We reconstruct the sequencing of rising media concern and rising police and local government concern.

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Updated 05/20/2006