AS part of a unique study, Marty Chamberlain, a Professor of Criminology at Teesside University, has been researching the attitudes of the people in the region to how they were policed during lockdown.

Here, in an extract from his report, he talks about how the public’s reaction to lockdown has highlighted the need for positive social relationships.

Professor Chamberlain said: “As we emerge from the national lockdown, we must remain mindful of the need to explore the public relationship with essential services such as the police.

"Just how did the police use of emergency power shape public perceptions of community relations?

"Our project used survey questions which the research team asked to residents across the region.

"This enabled us to ensure we captured a robust picture of the region and is the only study to independently compare a regional area with broader national trends.

"The findings make for interesting reading: People in the region by and large followed national trends regarding their personal status, their response to the government lockdown, and their view of the police use of Covid-19 emergency powers.

The Northern Echo: Marty Chamberlain, Professor in Criminology at Teesside UniversityMarty Chamberlain, Professor in Criminology at Teesside University

"For example two-thirds (67%) reported they stayed at home most or all the time and three-quarters (75%) reported that they tried to comply with all guidance provided to them.

"Three-fifths of respondents (58%) reported that a concern for protecting the NHS drove their actions, rather than a concern with their personal protection (30%) or getting in trouble with Cleveland police (2%).

"Yet of most interest was the respondent view of police job performance, community presence and ability to respond quickly to events.

"People were mainly positive when asked if they thought the police were doing a good job, with 60% saying they felt this was indeed the case- 57% in the comparative surveys.

"However, they were nearly twice as likely as Scottish respondents to view the police presence in their local area as ‘not enough’- 72% in Teesside compared to 38% in Scotland.

"When taken all together, the findings pointed toward the conclusion that our respondents had a highly informed and nuanced view of the relationship between police presence and broader operational capacity issues.

The Northern Echo: Security staff and police in the regionSecurity staff and police in the region

"Including, the impact of the government austerity agenda on the ability of officers to respond to the immediate demands of a national lockdown.

"One of the reasons why this is important is that the survey was conducted during the ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign. Participants were concerned about the policing of the associated protests events during the lockdown.

"When asked how much they agreed or disagreed with the advice in the UK that due to the coronavirus, mass gathering events should not take place, 75% strongly agreed and 14% agreed that they should not.

"It was difficult to not conclude that the people of the region prioritised public health concerns over civil liberty matters.

"For me this points to one of the key effects of the lockdown. We undoubtedly have become more isolated from our long-standing social groupings, personal relationships, and in many cases, our work colleagues.

"The result has been that larger social bonds which we perhaps had previously taken for granted, have become more important than ever before.

The Northern Echo: The Curve building at Teesside UniversityThe Curve building at Teesside University

"The public servants who help us have increasingly over the last year become our ‘social touchstones’.

"This is particularly most true of the caring public service roles, which we have grown up knowing we can instinctively trust: doctors, police officers, teachers, and so on.

"In this sense, therefore, the emphasis on public health over personal liberty by Teesside survey respondents can be tentatively said to suggest the existence of positive social bonding during a time of extreme difficulty by people of a region well-known for both its hardships and ability to transcend them.

"In conclusion, the policing of Covid-19 project highlights the need for police to develop strategies which build on the initial positive social response and shift toward greater social conformity, which often occurs when large-scale public health threats and social order risks happen.

"Policing outreach is particularly important as it increases understanding between residents and officers and can have a significant and positive effect on crime reduction. If the last year has told us anything, it is that we need positive social relationships to ward off the threat of ‘compassion fatigue’ during these difficult times.”

To read the full report by PACE, the regional policy thinktank, go to