By politics.co.uk staff
Citizen police academies could help reluctant members of the public become more actively involved in keeping their communities safe, a report out today argues.
Research from the think-tank Policy Exchange found just one in four people would intervene if a gang of teenagers were drinking and verbally abusing passers-by.
Its report, out today, also reveals the number of citizen's arrests in the Metropolitan police area has halved in two years, suggesting the UK's 'have-a-go heroes' are disappearing fast.
"The police will always play the central role in the fight against crime, yet the public still has a part to play," author Ed Boyd said.
"It's quite understandable that most people feel reluctant to be a 'have-a-go' hero and it is important that they have the confidence to intervene and know when it is appropriate.
"Citizen police academies are one way of helping the public feel more confident about their role in preventing criminal activity."
Over a third of the public would be introduced in attending a free evening class at a police academy, polling by YouGov for Policy Exchange suggested.
Lessons could involve being taught how to conduct a citizen's arrest, combating anti-social behaviour and avoiding danger.
It also recommends replacing neighbourhood police officers with crime prevention officers, which would be more highly trained and made directly responsible for crime prevention in their local area.
Boyd suggested Conservative and Liberal Democrat ministers are stuck in a choice between tougher on crime and seeking to cut reoffending.
The report states: "To break away from this two-dimensional paradigm the coalition government needs to adopt policies and initiatives that are 'smart on crime': cost-effective, evidenced-based and aligned with the public's expectations."