Problem Solving Policing: Views of Citizens and Citizens Expectations in Germany


  • Elmar Weitekamp


For the last two decades American police experts developed new police philosophies in order to tackle more successful the increasing crime problems. Community Policing tries to improve the cooperation between the population and the police and to increase the trust in the police. A crucial factor is a meaningful cooperation between the police and the citizens. Problem Oriented Policing aims at structural changes in the organisation and the procedures of the police in public. The police have to investigate the hidden problems and conflicts of an individual offence and to create proactive and long term concepts for the social area of conflicts beyond the specific case. It is doubtful whether these philosophies can be implemented in Germany since the legality principle prohibits meaningful, trustworthy relationships between citizens and police officers. However, if one examines the results of surveys on citizens views and expectations towards the police one finds that the majority of the German citizens favour the postulates of community and problem oriented policing. They expect through these measures an improvement of their life situation in the community and the feelings of safety. If one takes these results seriously one has to question if the legality principle is still appropriate. It seems to hamper new, more promising policing styles which seem to improve life of it's citizens and reflect what the citizens want and expect from their police force.