Citizens are important contributors in the safety of their own neighborhood. They can assist in preventing or solving of crimes by reporting suspicious and criminal circumstances to the police. Additionally, residents can also contribute to safety independently of the police through informal social control and by informing each other about suspicious circumstances. Research has shown that only a small fraction of citizens does actively participate in the police domain. Therefore, it relevant to examine why citizens do or do not participate and what the underlying psychological mechanisms for this decision are.

In order to stimulate citizen participation in the safety domain, and to make use of the popularity of social media, the application “Ik Waak” (I watch) is developed. This application is a digital neighborhood watch on which citizens can post pictures and messages of suspicious situations, emergencies and crimes (e.g. burglaries, car fires, accidents, etc.) and follow posts of neighbors. This is a citizen’s initiative, and therefore the police is not directly involved. The application will be introduced in the neighborhood ‘Boswinkel’ in Enschede, in collaboration with the police, municipality and the developer of the app. They are interested in why citizens do or do not participate and which effects the introduction of the application on subjective as well as objective safety has.

Research questions can be formulated in discussion with the municipality and police, for example about:


Citizens expectations concerning the app, neighbors and the police


Psychological mechanisms underlying differences between active and less- or inactive citizens


Effects on (subjective) safety in the neighborhood


Keywords: community policing, citizen participation, public safety


Bullock, K., & Sindall, K. (2014). Examining the nature and extent of public participation in neighbourhood policing. Policing and Society, 24(4), 385-404. doi: 10.1080/10439463.2013.844130

Van Steden, R., Van Caem, B., & Boutellier, H. (2011). The ‘hidden strength’ of active citizenship: The involvement of local residents in public safety projects. Criminology and Criminal Justice, 11(5), 433-450. doi: 10.1177/1748895811414467

Are you interested in this internship / masterthesis-assignment?

Please send a short motivation (200 words max) and your CV to:

Sven Zebel

053-489 3974