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Virtual Environment to Test Police and Public Awareness of Anti-Social Behaviour Indicators

NCJ Number
International Journal of Police Science & Management Volume: 12 Issue: 4 Dated: Winter 2010 Pages: 548-566
Shamus P. Smith; Tim Carter
Date Published
19 pages
This paper examines the effectiveness of using virtual technology to test police and public awareness of indicators of anti-social behavior.
Anti-social behavior is a problem in many modern-day communities. However, the ability of the police and other associated agencies to tackle this problem is limited due to the difficulties of gaining experience through training in the field, which is time-consuming and often dangerous. Virtual environment technology can provide a safe and controlled environment to assist police officer training in simulated urban environments. Public perceptions of anti-social behavior are also important and virtual environments can be used to allow police practitioners to gain insight into how the public experience anti-social behavior. A virtual environment system has been constructed to support police officers becoming more observant and confident at spotting indicators of anti-social behavior. An evaluation study was conducted with practitioners and members of the public to compare the virtual environment with a paper-based alternative. Performance metrics were collected during the study and post-session questionnaires were used to evaluate the perceptions of 36 participants in regard to their experiences with the system. Performance in the virtual environment was comparable with a paper-based method. In addition, both practitioner and public participants positively received the virtual environment, with the majority indicating a preference for virtual environment simulations over conventional paper-based activities. This has implications for the further use of virtual environments as such systems can provide dynamic experiences over a wide variety of scenario-based environments. (Published Abstract) Tables, figures, notes, and references