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New directions in research on public confidence in policing: Trust, legitimacy and consent Scottish Institute for Policing Research seminar series, 12.

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Presentation on theme: "New directions in research on public confidence in policing: Trust, legitimacy and consent Scottish Institute for Policing Research seminar series, 12."— Presentation transcript:

1 New directions in research on public confidence in policing: Trust, legitimacy and consent Scottish Institute for Policing Research seminar series, 12 th February 2008 Jonathan Jackson, LSE

2 Outline Overall argument Policy relevance of confidence and legitimacy Introducing instrumental and expressive models Focus on fear of crime vs. neighbourhood stability concerns New definition of trust/confidence and legitimacy Modelling trust/confidence and legitimacy: Primary importance of procedural justice and identification with police values Only secondary importance of instrumental judgements of police effectiveness

3 Three strands to the argument 1. It is important to go beyond single indicators of public trust/confidence in policing to unpick different components of confidence (according to sociological theory on trust); and, to add legitimacy (perceived obligation to obey the directives of a legal authority plus specific acts of cooperation and compliance) Why? Because different components of trust/confidence have different correlates and different consequences; and, Components of confidence and legitimacy/consent can be put back together again to form powerful explanatory models

4 ‘The impotence of pure power’ (Zelditch, 2001) 2. Legitimacy may be more important than public confidence because legitimacy facilitates social regulation Legitimacy is a ‘psychological property of an authority, institution, or social arrangement that leads those connected to it to believe that it is appropriate, proper, and just’ (Tyler, 2006) Legitimacy brings feelings of responsibility and obligation and ‘cumulative, individual acts of compliance or confidence’ (Bendix, 1977). Self-regulation achieves compliance with the law more efficiently than coercion: Hough (2003: 146–7): ‘... the police function depends critically on the authority that the police can command, rather than the force that they can deploy as a last resort’

5 What underpins confidence and legitimacy? 3. By modelling attitudes towards the police (i.e. components of public confidence in policing) and legitimacy and consent, we can identify key underlying processes Are symbolic/expressive factors more important than instrumental factors in confidence and legitimacy? Concerns about neighbourhood stability and cohesion more important than fear of crime? Judgements of procedural justice, community engagement and police values more important than judgements of police effectiveness in driving legitimacy and compliance?

6 Policy relevance: nothing new ‘ Policing by consent’ is an old idea People obey laws and cooperate with authorities when they see laws as legitimate (they ought to be obeyed) and authorities as entitled to be obeyed: self-regulation achieves compliance with the law more efficiently than coercion The criminal justice system functions more effectively when people report crimes, give police and courts information, etc. Plus, broader cultural significance of public confidence and legitimacy: Citizens have a right to feel that their Government (an its system of criminal justice) protects and supports them

7 Policy relevance: why current interest? Been on and off agenda for two decades: scandals and tensions; the police are no longer a symbol of a stable social order Current interest can be linked to: Falling levels of public confidence in the police Falling crime but no improvement in confidence Public are ever-vocal in their demands for greater visibility and accessibility Current policing strategies (e.g. reassurance policing) try to move away from narrow crime targets to deal with fear of crime, public confidence, lay concerns about disorder, and crime

8 What is public confidence in policing? Loose construct: a short-hand for trust, legitimacy and consent Measured by the British Crime Survey as ‘How good a job do you think the [local/national] police are doing?’…. A summary measure of public satisfaction with the police No assessment of public perceptions of the legitimacy of the police, nor specific acts of compliance and confidence (intentions to report crimes, identify criminals, come forward with information, etc.)

9 Developing our conceptual tools It is important to develop conceptual and methodological tools in public confidence in policing This will allow us to: Tease apart different components of trust and confidence Tease apart different aspects of legitimacy (public willingness to obey the police) and the specific acts of compliance or confidence Show the relationships between components of confidence and legitimacy/consent

10 Study one Looks at the single indicator of public confidence in local policing Demonstrates the ability of testing competing models

11 Instrumental vs expressive/symbolic models Following previous research (Tyler & Boeckmann, 1997; Sunshine & Tyler, 2003a, 2003b; Jackson & Sunshine, 2007), study one tests two competing models: Instrumental model: confidence in policing is rooted in fear of crime; legitimacy and consent is rooted in attitudes towards the effectiveness of the police Expressive model: confidence in policing is rooted in public concerns over neighbourhood stability (disorder, cohesion, collective efficacy); legitimacy and consent is rooted in attitudes towards procedural justice, police engagement with the community, and public identification with the police

12 Study one 2003/2004 British Crime Survey 2007 Safer Neighbourhoods Survey The focus is not yet on legitimacy and consent First research question: is public confidence in policing (measured by ‘How good a job are the local police doing?’) more highly associated with fear of crime than with concerns about community (or vice versa)? Second research question: what is the role of broader anxieties about social change and Law and Order?

13 2003/2004 British Crime Survey How good a job are the local police doing? Fear of crime Perceptions of the risk of crime Neighbourhood disorder Informal social controls Social cohesion Crime rates.12*.20*.17*.07*

14 2007 Safer Neighbourhoods Survey Confidence in local police effectiveness Fear of crime Neighbourhood disorder Informal social controls Anxieties about social change and Law and Order.07*.36*.07*.11*

15 Conclusions from study one Public opinion was driven less by worries about crime and more by concerns about a decline in community and a loss of discipline and moral authority The public think about the police as symbolic ‘guardians’ of social stability and order, holding them responsible for community values and informal social controls (less responsible for risk, crime and safety): People look to the police to be prototypical representatives of community values, as neo-Durkheimian defenders of group norms and neighbourhood stability

16 Conclusions from study one Reiner (2000) suggested that the police are faced with the paradox that they appear more successful the less they are necessary Study one suggests that not only are the police judged by the lack of need for them, but also by public diagnoses of local values and moral structures: Police appear successful not just when crime does not occur but also when the conditions seen to be conducive to crime are not present So perceived withdrawal of informal social controls and moral authority is linked to perceived withdrawal of formal agents of social control and moral authority (e.g. police)

17 Some conceptual work on trust While basic definitions can vary, trust is typically defined as beliefs and expectations that some institution or actor will act in a particular way in a particular context For Luhmann (1979, p. 93): ‘[trust]... reduces social complexity by going beyond available information and generalising expectations of behaviour in that it replaces information with an internally guaranteed security’ In the case of the police, this may involve the sense that the police is performing its function effectively and fairly – administering justice, defending norms and values, and generating security.

18 Some conceptual work on trust Barber (1983) shares Luhmann’s perspective on trust concerning its function – the reduction of complexity – but distinguishes between three types of expectation: 1. value compatibility (so, people may judge whether police reflect the values and morals of themselves and their community); 2. the expectation that actors or institutions will perform their role in a technically competent manner (so, people may judge whether the police are effective at dealing with crime); and, 3. that actors or institutions will demonstrate ‘fiduciary responsibility’, to act with special concern for other’s interests above their own (so, people may judge whether the police operate with integrity (with distributive and procedural fairness);

19 Unpicking different components of confidence Thus far in this paper, public confidence in policing has been measured by either ‘how good a job are the local police doing?’ (BCS) or by an index of public attitudes towards the effectiveness of the police (SNS) The 2005/2006 Metropolitan Police Public Attitudes Survey differentiates between: attitudes towards the effectiveness of the police attitudes towards the fairness or integrity of the police (procedural justice) attitudes towards police engagement with the community Study two assesses this definition and examines whether different components of confidence have different correlates

20 Unpicking different components of confidence

21 Examining the correlates of (a) effectiveness, (b) fairness, and (c) community engagement … Females were less confident than males about effectiveness and community engagement, but no difference with perceived fairness Younger people were less confident than older people about effectiveness and fairness, but weaker effect for community engagement Stronger ethnicity contrasts in fairness compared to both effectiveness and community engagement e.g. Black Carribeans less confident than Whites in police fairness, but no difference in police effectiveness or community engagement Contact with the police had bigger effects on police fairness and community engagement While poorly received contact had a consistently negative impact, well received contact had a positive association on fairness and community engagement (not on effectiveness)

22 Unpicking different components of confidence

23 Instrumental vs expressive models Police engagement Fear of crime Perceptions of the crime problem Informal social controls Neighbourhood disorder Social cohesion Deprivation.07*.23*.07* Police effectiveness Police fairness.05*.09*.15*.23*

24 Summary thus far Confidence seems more of a product of public concerns about neighbourhood stability and breakdown than instrumental concerns over crime Concerns about neighbourhood stability also reflect broader social anxieties about the decline of community and the loss of moral authority Underpinning confidence may be public attitudes towards police effectiveness, police fairness, and police community engagement These different components of confidence can have different top-line %s and correlates

25 What about legitimacy and consent? Low public confidence in policing is significant because it creates political pressure which translates into changing priorities and policy initiatives (e.g. ‘reassurance policing’) But the significance of public confidence is also seen in legitimacy and specific acts of compliance, confidence and cooperation For example, if certain groups (like young British Asians) see police as ‘corrupt’ and ‘unfair’, and as not representative of their community and their interests, will this erode legitimacy and support amongst this group? Does damaged relations between the police and certain groups only exacerbate existing problems? Do different components of confidence have different associations with legitimacy and consent?

26 Lessons from New York City: Study three Tyler and colleagues have long studied police legitimacy and notions of procedural justice US research, although growing interest elsewhere Study three draws on data from a study conducted by Tyler & Sunshine (a representative sample survey of New York City residents conducted in early 2001) Goal is to examine more advanced conceptual and methodological tools

27 Measuring the constructs Procedural justice e.g.: ‘The police in your neighborhood.. Give honest explanations for their actions to the people they deal with’ and ‘… Treat people with dignity and respect’ Distributive fairness e.g.: ‘The police in your neighborhood provide better police service to the wealthy than to the average citizen.’ Police effectiveness e.g.: ‘How effective are the police in fighting crime in your neighborhood?’ Identification with the police e.g.: ‘Most of the police officers who work in your neighborhood would value what you contribute to your neighborhood’ and ‘The moral values of most police officers are similar to your own.’

28 Measuring the constructs Legitimacy e.g.: ‘You should accept the decisions made by police, even if you think they are wrong ’ Compliance with the law e.g.: ‘How often do you follow the laws and rules... against buying possibly stolen items on the street’ Cooperation with the police e.g.: ‘(If the situation arose...) How likely would you be to call the police to report a crime occurring in your neighborhood’

29 Scaling of the data revealed good measures and distinct concepts Procedural justice Distributive fairness Police effectiveness Public identification with the morals and values of the police Legitimacy Cooperation with the police Compliance with the law

30 Study three Police legitimacy Procedural justice Distributive fairness Police effectiveness.27*.07*.10* Cooperation with the police Compliance with the law.07*.06*.29*.03

31 Importance of procedural justice ‘When people are making evaluations of the legitimacy of social authorities, they focus almost exclusively upon their assessments of the fairness of the procedures those authorities use to make decisions (i.e. on procedural fairness)’ (Tyler, 2001: 416)

32 Importance of procedural justice Explanation lies in social psychological processes: Group leaders, rules, norms, and values symbolically represent the group, and provide identity-relevant information to individuals The manner in which group members are treated by their leaders communicates information to the individual about their status within the group Lind and Tyler (1988) argue that procedural issues are important because people use their evaluations of process to gain self-knowledge and construct their personal identities: beliefs about process represent a connection between individuals and the larger groups they belong to

33 Tyler’s work on police legitimacy and ‘process based policing’ Legitimacy is defined as the feeling amongst the public that an authority or institution is entitled to be obeyed … constitutes an internal motivation guiding people to engage in law-abiding behaviour Process based policing rests on the assumption that social regulation is best achieved by tapping into individuals’ internal motivations for controlling their own behaviour For example, when a person believes that obeying the rules is inherently the right way to conduct oneself, the external threat of sanction for violating the rules is not necessary The extent that authorities can rely on individuals’ internal mechanisms for self-control, the less resources must be devoted to external means of regulating behaviour

34 Some more notes on trust But note: in study three, legitimacy did not have very big effects on compliance and cooperation Might something else be going on here? Earle and Cvetkovitch (1995) argue that people require rather a lot of information about actors and institutions in order to decide whether or not to grant trust; this requires considerable effort They claim that ‘social trust’ is largely based on salient value similarity or value compatibility, a ‘groundless’ trust, needing no justification Rather than deducing trustworthiness from direct evidence, people infer it from ‘value-bearing narratives’, which could be information shortcuts, available images, schema and the like

35 Some more notes on trust With policing, value compatibility may translate into a general public identification with the social and moral values of the police If people see an alignment between the law and their own moral values, they may regulate themselves and help the police (this is separate to legitimacy: the feeling amongst the public that an authority or institution is entitled to be obeyed)

36 Study three Police legitimacy Procedural justice Distributive fairness Police effectiveness.06*.15*.40* Cooperation with the police Compliance with the law Identification with police values.27*.04*.29*.68*.07*.10*

37 Summary of study three So net of legitimacy, alignment with values expressed by the police (and the law more generally) was an important predictor of cooperation and compliance Procedural justice also shaped this value alignment So group cooperation and compliance may be based on ways in which authority treats subordinates and the norms and values that they are seen to espouse: By treating people fairly and with dignity, authorities can communicate to citizens that they both embody community values and seek to strengthen them (Jackson & Sunshine, 2007; Sunshine and Tyler 2003).

38 Study four Finally, moving back to the UK 2000 Policing for London study is unusual in that it fielded measures of: Public attitudes towards the effectiveness of the police Public attitudes towards the fairness and integrity of the police Intention to support the police and the criminal justice system

39 Study four Briefly, intention to support the police was associated with both: Public attitudes towards the effectiveness of the police Public attitudes towards the fairness and integrity of the police This was net of socio-demographics, contact, fear of crime and concerns about community cohesion Another reminder that: Public confidence in policing has consequences; and, Public confidence has different components

40 Discussion of studies 1-4 Importance of unpicking different aspects of trust and confidence in the police Importance of adding legitimacy: public belief that the police are entitled to be obeyed; and specific acts of compliance and cooperation Evidence for more symbolic/expressive factors driving both confidence and legitimacy: Fear of crime less important than concerns about neighbourhood stability and cohesion Procedural justice (the communication of group status) and identification with police-values more important than perceptions of police effectiveness and distributive fairness

41 Where next? Need to test and develop Tyler’s process- based policing model in the UK Only Policing for London study has asked about confidence and intention to support the police In particular, interesting to explore the notion of community engagement alongside identification with the police

42 Where next? To what extent do the public differentiate between different members of the ‘policing family’? What is the impact of broader changes in policing and increasing tensions: 1. between addressing ‘neighbourhood crimes’ and ‘serious crimes’; 2. between centrally determined performance management targets and local priorities/discretion; 3. between maintaining security and respecting human rights; and, 4. between the role of the police and the role of policing. What are the implications of transnationalism and the rise of the ‘global neighbourhood’ for trust in the British police and policing?


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