This paper describes Japan's police box system, which is a key feature of community policing in that country.
A high percentage of the Japanese community police force works out of "police boxes," which are placed in communities throughout the country. By posting police in the communities they serve, officers have a better understanding of the security condition of the community as well as the perceptions, needs, and concerns of the residents. Police boxes in urban areas are staffed around the clock with shift services. Police boxes in rural and semi-rural areas are staffed by a single officer, who lives with his/her family in residential housing attached to the office. Police boxes vary widely in their sizes. Apart from an office area, a police box has a kitchen and a room for officers to take breaks. A "community room," which is a reception room for community residents, has recently been added. Small police cars are assigned too many police boxes for use in patrols and trips to and from police headquarters. Police boxes are easily identified by residents from a red lamp above the entrance door. The basic duties of officers posted at a police box include standing watch in front of the police box, sitting watch from inside the box, and the performance of field duties that involve patrols and door-to-door visits to homes and businesses. These duties are performed according to a schedule. While on patrol, officers question suspicious persons, make arrests, give warnings, respond to crime reports, and provide residents and tourists with guidance. Some of the problems with the police box system are unstaffed or understaffed boxes, the decreasing number of police boxes in rural and semi-rural areas, and limited time for door-to-door visits.
National Police Academy of Japan
3-12-1 Asahi-cho, Fuchu-shi, Tokyo, 183-8558 Japan,, Japan