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“Free Text Is Essentially the Enemy of What We’re Trying to Achieve”: The Framing of a National Vision for Delivering Digital Police Contact

Wells, Helen; Andrews, Will; Clayton, Estelle; Bradford, Ben; Aston, Elizabeth V.; O’Neill, Megan


Helen Wells

Will Andrews

Ben Bradford

Megan O’Neill



Police organizations in England and Wales, as in many other contexts, are increasingly shifting crime reporting and other public-facing contact online. In this article, we explore the beliefs, motivations and objectives of those tasked with “delivering” the “vision” of digital police contact at the strategic national level. We use Goffman’s concept of frames – the set of expectations an actor brings to a situation or process – to understand how participants enacted this “channel shift” (Wells et al), the ends they were seeking to meet and how different interests came to be designed-in to the contact architecture. We suggest that the primary frame centred around notions of efficiency and demand management. Running alongside this is a secondary frame of customer service, where it is assumed that the public also wish for the efficient delivery of this technologically mediated service. This, we suggest, is likely to be only a partial reflection of what people want when contacting police; but the framing of “contact” as a separate deliverable by those delivering this agenda serves to occlude or evade this point. Technology, we argue, imprints itself on the context by appearing to offer a convenient solution to problems of public wants and police needs.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 5, 2024
Online Publication Date Apr 1, 2024
Publication Date 2024
Deposit Date Apr 8, 2024
Publicly Available Date Oct 2, 2024
Journal European Journal of Policing Studies
Print ISSN 2034-760X
Publisher Maklu Uitgevers
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 7
Issue 1-2
Pages 14-35
Keywords police digital reporting, technological mediation, contact frames, procedural justice, Single Online Home
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