The expectations of the citizens towards the police are central within this research. A lot of presumptions are made concerning people's opinions, attitudes and images of the police. These presumptions are based on limited empirical data. When people's opinions and attitudes are measured, it is predominantly in a quantitative way. This is hardly done in a qualitative way.
The main goal of this research is getting a more profound insight into how people think of the police, what they are expecting from the police and which images they have of the police.
Schafer, Huebner and Bynum (Schafer, 2003) managed very well to summarize some indicators which influence people's attitudes of the police. They differentiated demographic characteristics, the fact someone had contact or not with the police and the neighbourhood context and -culture. Considering the fact these variables will influence the people's attitude, they may have an influence on their expectations and images of the police. Two factors are extracted, out of the wide variety summarized by Schafer et al, namely the age and the neighbourhood characteristics (in the sense of city-country) and are assumed to play a certain role in what people's expectations are of the police.
This research concentrates on the questions: What are the citizens' expectations and images of the police? We expect that the citizens' expectations and images are influenced by their age and by their living place, whether it is a rural or an urban one. To answer the questions a multi-method approach is chosen:
1. Participant observation in a police organisation: During 8 months a participant observation took place in two local police zones: a rural and an urban one. By means of this observation the researcher got an insight into how a local police organisation functions, which is considered as a crucial issue when studying the police. Besides, some situations of the daily police practice were selected. These cases/'vignets' will be used in the interview.
2. Semi-structured interviewing: By means of a semi-structured interview, a diversity (in relation to their age and living place) of people are asked what their expectations and images are of the police.
People of several age groups are interviewed: 20 people who are aged between 16-20 year, 20 citizens who are aged between 40-50 year and 20 persons who are aged between 65-75 year. This is done in the city and in the country.