Optimising the length of random breath tests: Results from the Queensland Community Engagement Trial

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Mazerolle, Lorraine
Bates, Lyndel
Bennett, Sarah
White, Gentry
Ferris, Jason
Antrobus, Emma
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2015
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Research suggests that the length and quality of police-citizen encounters affect policing outcomes. The Koper Curve, for example, shows that the optimal length for police presence in hot spots is between 14 and 15 minutes, with diminishing returns observed thereafter. Our study, using data from the Queensland Community Engagement Trial (QCET), examines the impact of encounter length on citizen perceptions of police performance. QCET involved a randomised field trial, where 60 random breath test (RBT) traffic stop operations were randomly allocated to an experimental condition involving a procedurally just encounter or a business-as-usual control condition. Our results show that the optimal length of time for procedurally just encounters during RBT traffic stops is just less than 2 minutes. We show, therefore, that it is important to encourage and facilitate positive police-citizen encounters during RBT at traffic stops, while ensuring that the length of these interactions does not pass a point of diminishing returns.

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Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology
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48
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2
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Criminology
Police administration, procedures and practice
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