Policing by Consent and Public Compliance with the Law: Notes on Legal Legitimacy and Cynicism

Published: November 2010

This article summarises ‘procedural justice’ approaches to policing, contrasting these to the more politically dominant discourse about policing as crime control. It argues that public trust in policing is needed partly because this may result in public cooperation with justice, but more importantly because public trust in justice builds institutional legitimacy and thus public compliance with the law, and commitment to, the rule of law. We define police legitimacy as obligation to obey and moral alignment. We link police legitimacy to legal legitimacy/cynicism, and both to compliance with the law. Some recent survey findings are presented in support of this perspective.

Authors / Editors

Dr Kath Murray

University of Edinburgh