Bystander actions during police work on the street: officer perspectives

Marly van Bruchem*, Karin Proost, Joris van Ruysseveldt, Marie Rosenkrantz Lindegaard

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Studies on bystander behaviour showed that bystanders regularly intervene in conflicts and crime in public in order to de-escalate, yet these studies focus solely on the way citizens manage situations in the absence of police. Bystanders, however, are also present while police officers carry out their work and might help or challenge their performance. Based on 15 interviews with police officers and participant observation during 12 police shifts in the Netherlands, this study provides insights into the way officers perceive bystanders and experience their actions. Police officers describe bystanders as a dilemma they have to face during encounters: they want to convey a positive and fair image of themselves towards bystanders, yet also want to control the situation and show their authority. The diversity of bystander actions and the dilemma’s officers face imply that more attention should be given to bystanders of police action in both research and training.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalPolice Practice and Research
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Authority maintenance theory
  • bystanders
  • police-civilian encounters
  • Policing
  • Procedural Justice


Dive into the research topics of 'Bystander actions during police work on the street: officer perspectives'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this