Julia M. Pearce, David Parker, Lasse Lindekilde, Noemie Bouhana, and M. Brooke Rogers

Encouraging public reporting of suspicious behaviour on rail networks

Policing and Society


Ongoing targeting of mass transit networks and the challenges associated with policing these large open systems means that encouraging public vigilance and reporting on railways is a counter-terrorism priority. There is, however, surprisingly little research on motivations and barriers to cooperating with the police in this context. This paper contributes to this under-researched field by presenting the findings of a survey experiment which examined (1) the role of uncertainty as a barrier for reporting suspicious behaviour on rail networks, (2) whether drivers for cooperation established in the context of traditional crime hold for reporting suspicious behaviour at train stations, and (3) whether the UK ‘See it. Say it. Sorted’ campaign is effective in encouraging reporting. Results suggest that future public vigilance campaigns should address differences in lay and official definitions of suspicious behaviour to reduce uncertainty as a barrier to reporting. They also demonstrate that the influence of procedural justice on cooperation via its influence on social identification with the police holds beyond the context of community policing and reporting of traditional crime. However, other drivers are likely to be more important for determining and reporting suspicious behaviour on rail networks, including perceived benefits of reporting.