17th March 2008

“New directions in research on public confidence in policing:
Trust, legitimacy and consent”

Dr. Jon Jackson, London School of Economics
Friday 28 March, 3.15 – 5pm
Lecture Theatre A (407), Boyd Orr Building, University of Glasgow Abstract:
Public confidence in policing is receiving increasing attention from UK researchers and policy-makers. The criminal justice system relies on legitimacy and public consent to an extent that is unlike any other public service. At the heart of internal motivations of cooperation and support are lay beliefs that agents of criminal justice are appropriate, proper and just. Legitimacy then leads individuals to engage in law-abiding behaviour, cooperate with policing efforts, and show deference to police tactics. Such a model of social regulation is of value because it is safer and more efficient than a deterrence model based on the use of force: reliance on citizens’ internal motives for self-control reduces the cost, danger, and alienation associated with displays of force to affect citizen compliance with law.
This paper reviews existing research on public confidence in policing and suggests some new directions.  Home Office reports have drawn on data from the British Crime Survey to identify which social groups believe the police are doing a good or bad job; contact with the police is often associated with lower levels of public satisfaction. However the core argument made in this paper is that it is important to go beyond single indicators to unpick different elements of confidence (attitudes towards the effectiveness of the police; attitudes towards the fairness of the police; and satisfaction with police engagement with the community) and to assess specific aspects of legitimacy and intention to support the police. This paper presents empirical evidence that different components of confidence and legitimacy are distinct (if related) and have different (if overlapping) correlates. And just as importantly, one can take these aspects then put them back together again to develop a process model of confidence and legitimacy. Data analysed include: the 2000 Policing for London study; the 2005/2006 London Metropolitan Police Public Attitudes Survey; and the 2002 New York City Voice of the People study.

Jon is Lecturer in Research Methodology and member of the Mannheim Centre for Criminology at the London School of Economics. His research centres on public attitudes towards crime, policing and social order. With Stephen Farrall and Emily Gray, he is currently writing a book based on an ESRC-funded project into the fear of crime. He is also embarking on two new studies. The first (funded by the European Commission) seeks to provide European Union institutions and Member States with new social indicators for the assessment of public confidence in criminal justice. The second (funded by the Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines at the LSE) tracks the trajectories and correlates of public sentiment towards crime and criminal justice over the past 25 years.

Tea and coffee will be available in the Boyd Orr committee room from 3pm.
For further information please contact Susan Batchelor, SCCJR [s.batchelor@lbss.gla.ac.uk].
All welcome