Police and Age: Fostering the subjective sense of security of older and very old citizens in public space
Due to the demographic change and the aging of society, the police and other security actors are confronted with new challenges in public space within the next years.
In Austria, the proportion of people aged 50 years or older is 38.3%, the proportion of people aged 65 years or older is 18.3% (Statistik Austria, 2014). These proportions are expected to increase till 2030 up to 43.4% (50+) and 23.6% (65 +). But the old and older men and women are not a homogeneous target group towards which police officers can address an uniform prevention and communication strategy in public space. Old and older people are internally a very strongly differentiated group, although they share certain characteristics with each other, they differ greatly in their subjective perception of security, in their needs and their lifestyles.
Although the objective security increases, meaning the decline of crime, these trends do not always affect the subjective perception of the population. Albeit in Austria several (national and international) surveys were carried out in the subjective sense of security of the population, little is known about the subjective security perception of old and older men and women and how the older age groups can be well addressed by police work. In particular, previous studies do not take into account the heterogeneity within the group of old and older women and men.
The project SI-ALT wants to close this research gap by quantitative and qualitative research on subjective (in-)securities of old and very old women and men as well as on the perspectives of police officers. The study will be conducted in three pilot regions, which will be selected in accordance with the Federal Ministry of Internal Affairs. On the basis of the collected data, the project team will develop products for a valuable contribution to the prevention and communication activities and the behaviour of police officers towards old and very old people.
The project SI -ALT will develop the following three products based on the research results:
- A barometer for the portrayal and analysis of the objective security situation and the subjective perception of security of old and very old men and women,
- a guide to sensitize police officers (and other security actors) for new pictures of “aging” and to represent the needs, risks and irritations of a heterogeneous target group in public space,
- and a curriculum for police education and training to strengthen the communication work for police officers in their everyday work. The aim of this curriculum is to assist police officers in dealing with the needs of old and very old men and women.
Mag. Michael Stadler-Vida
queraum. kultur- und sozialforschung
Bundesministerium für Inneres (BM.I)
Institut für Soziologie, Universität Wien
Kompetenzzentrum für empirische Forschungsmethoden, WU Wien