Encouraging public reporting of suspicious behaviour on rail networks

Julia Michelle Pearce, David John Parker, Lasse Lindekilde, Noemie Bouhana, Marian Brooke Rogers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
327 Downloads (Pure)


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. Data was collected in the UK and Denmark, national contexts with differing baseline attitudes towards the police and experiences of transit terrorist attacks, to assess the extent to which public vigilance campaigns need to be adapted to address local concerns. 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 reporting suspicious behaviour on rail networks, including perceived benefits of reporting. Theoretical and practical implications of cross-national differences and similarities in responses are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)835-853
Number of pages28
Issue number7
Early online date19 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2020


  • Procedural justice
  • cooperation
  • counter-terrorism policing
  • social identity


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