Qualified support for police shown

6th September 1996 at 01:00
There is widespread support for the police as an institution among young people, but many are critical of the way they exercise their powers, a report reveals.

TV series such as The Bill and fly-on-the-wall documentaries may have helped to shape a generation's perceptions alongside media reports on police activities, researchers believe.

Young People's Reading at the End of the Century, a report published by the children's literature research centre at Roehampton Institute, outlines not only four to 16-year-olds' approaches to reading, but their views on a wide range of social issues that they may have read about, including drug and alcohol abuse and law and order.

During the Roehampton study, believed to be the most extensive of its kind, 8,000 primary and secondary pupils were asked how far they agreed with statements including "we need more police to run the country smoothly", "there are times when it is necessary to break the law", "some laws discriminate against young people" and "the police should care more about the rights of the individual".

The report said: "It is clear that the majority of young people between the ages of 11 and 16 feel that the police do not care sufficiently for the rights of the individual." It added that "young people are critical of the way the police exercise their powers".

There was fairly unanimous agreement that the police are necessary, a conviction which increased with age.

"You think of there being tensions between youth and authority but respondents seemed to accept that there was a need and a place for the police," said the research centre director Kim Reynolds.

"At around 16, it was interesting that particularly boys were saying that we needed more police to run the country and were more tolerant of any abuse of police privilege.

"As it is teenage boys who are most likely to be victims of violent crime, it is possible that they felt more vulnerable. There is a sense that they feel police could be instrumental in making situations safer.

"We had assumed there would be more of a range of different attitudes in different parts of the country, not just North-South but on rural-metropolitan lines. A lot of attitudes to the police are formed by the media, including TV series like The Bill and fly-on-the-wall documentaries, and these cut across geographical boundaries."

The Roehampton reports on reading, to be published every five years, will be of interest to social scientists as well as teachers and publishers. The first report includes essays on how children choose books, reluctant readers, horror fiction, information books and electronic publishing.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today