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The Greater Manchester Police Procedural Justice Experiment: The Impact of Communication Skills Training on Officers and Victims of Crime.

  • College of Policing, London, United Kingdom


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The Greater Manchester Police
procedural justice training
The impact of communication skills training on
officers and victims of crime
Levin Wheller
Paul Quinton
Alistair Fildes
PC Andy Mills
© College of Policing, August 2013.
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Executive summary
A growing body of research has shown that people’s motivations to cooperate with the police
and not break the law are shaped more by feeling the police have legitimate authority, and
share the same values, than by people’s perceived risk of being caught and punished. Given
public perceptions of fair treatment are at the root of police legitimacy, improved police-
public interactions over the long term could help reduce crime. There is limited evidence on
which interventions can improve public perceptions of fair treatment by the police. The
Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT) reported in this paper tested the impact of training on the
perceived quality of interactions between the police and crime victims in Greater Manchester.
The intervention focused on developing officers’ practical communication skills. In total, 339
officers were randomly assigned to the treatment group (to receive the training) and 237 to
the control group (to not receive the training). As the officers were assigned at random,
differences between the groups after the training can be directly attributed to the
intervention. RCTs are considered the ‘gold standard’ in evaluation research as they can
establish ‘cause and effect’ relationships.
Main findings
Officer attitudes
An online survey measured officer attitudes post-training. The intervention was found to have
had a positive effect on four out of eight possible outcomes, with no effect on the remaining
four. Officers in the treatment group were more likely than those in the control group to: hold
positive views about delivering quality of service; recognise the value of building empathy
and rapport with victims; and report making decisions that involved victims in the process.
Officer behaviour
Officer behaviour was assessed post-training in a realistic role-play exercise. The intervention
was found to have had a positive impact, with officers in the treatment group scoring
significantly higher than those in the control group on a ‘quality of interaction’ scale. In terms
of fair treatment, these officers were more likely to give victims a choice about how the
incident was to be dealt with (a 14 percentage point difference). A higher proportion were
also rated as ‘good/excellent’ in terms of their overall performance (48% compared to 22%).
Victim perceptions
An existing force survey was used to measure the perceptions of crime victims who had
contact with officers in the trial. The intervention was found to have had a significant positive
effect on a ‘quality of interaction’ scale. No effect was found for overall victim satisfaction and
willingness to cooperate with the police. Given that most victims were already satisfied and
cooperative, it was unlikely the training could produce an effect size large enough to be
detected by the survey. It is possible, therefore, that the training might have had a bigger
effect in more challenging encounters where public perceptions of the police are more varied.
The trial showed that training which seeks to teach officers a series of practical techniques
and improve their general communication skills can be effective at improving the victim
experience. While some of the effects were relatively small, the overall pattern of results
points consistently to training having had a positive impact on outcomes. Findings from
across the outcome measures suggest that – rather than officers adopting specific techniques
or skills they were taught on the course – training instead encouraged a more general shift in
the way officers approached interactions with the public. Officers in the treatment group
developed a greater awareness of the need to listen to and empathise with victims of crime –
resulting in improved public perceptions.
Executive summary 1
Contents 2
Acknowledgements 3
1. Introduction 4
2. Summary findings 12
3. Conclusions and implications 17
References 19
Figures and Tables
Figure 1 The procedural justice model 4
Table 1 Recent experimental studies focussed on police-public dialogue. 5
Table 2 Content of classroom-based learning 7
Table 3 Approach to scenario-based learning 9
Table 4 Officers assigned to the treatment and control groups 9
Table 5 Data sources and methods 11
Table 6 Officer feedback (binary variables, treated officers only) 12
Table 7 Officer attitudes (scaled variables, intention to treat, treatment vs.
control) 13
Table 8 Officer behaviour (scaled variables, intention to treat, treatment vs.
control) 14
Table 9 Officer behaviour (binary variables, intention to treat, treatment vs.
control) 14
Table 10 Victim perceptions (scaled variables, intention to treat, treatment vs.
control) 15
Table 11 Victim perceptions (binary variables, intention to treat, treatment vs.
control) 15
The authors from the College of Policing were responsible for overall design of the trial and
the evaluation. PC Andy Mills led the delivery of the training programme and managed all of
the logistics. This study, however, would not have been possible without the advice and
support of a wide range of people. The authors would particularly like to thank the following
for their invaluable contributions:
The command team of Greater Manchester Police – particularly Chief Constable Peter
Fahy, Assistant Commissioner Simon Byrne (currently Metropolitan Police), and Assistant
Chief Constable Garry Shewan – for their support for the trial and commitment to building
the evidence base in policing.
Claire Light, Amy Ramsden, Inspector Jason Eddison, Sarah-Jane Duffin, Chief Inspector
George Fawcett, and Sergeant Russell Magnall for their support in implementing the trial
and helping to set up the evaluation.
The GMP trainers – Gerry Birtles, Derek Brodigan, Sharon Connally, Kelly Chilton, Craig
Foster, Alison Hadley, John Power, Denise Rushton and Dave Window – for delivering the
courses, supporting the evaluation, and embracing a different way of working.
The police officers of Greater Manchester Police who attended training and generously
gave their time to participate in the evaluation.
Martin Wood, Kay Renwick and the team of researchers from The National Centre for
Social Research for their constructive and collaborative approach to the coding of officer
behaviour videos.
Dr Emma Antrobus (University of Queensland) for her initial scoping work on victim
satisfaction data; and Dr Ben Bradford (Oxford University), David Mann and Andy Myhill
(both College of Policing) for their general analytical advice.
Professor David Wilson (George Mason University), Dr Chris Kershaw (Home Office),
Professor Martin Bland and Professor David Torgerson (both from the York University
Trials Unit) for their advice on sampling and the overall design of the trial.
Professor Lorraine Mazerolle (University of Queensland) and Professor Dennis Rosenbaum
(University of Illinois at Chicago) for independently peer reviewing the study; Dr Jonathan
Jackson (London School of Economics) for quality assuring the victim survey analysis; and
Assistant Chief Constable Richard Bennett (Thames Valley Police) for providing a
practitioner review.
1. Introduction
The College of Policing has been working in collaboration with Greater Manchester Police
(GMP) to test the impact of a communication skills training programme, which was designed
to improve the way police officers interact with victims of crime. The training programme was
implemented as a randomised controlled trial – the ‘gold standard’ in evaluation research –
which allows strong statements to be made about the impact of the training because it can
establish ‘cause and effect’ relationships. This practitioner report provides an overview of the
trial, summarises its main findings, and discusses implications for policing policy and practice.
An associated Technical Report provides more detail on the trial, its results and limitations.
The importance of procedural justice in policing
There is a growing body of research on the procedural justice model, which looks at the
reasons why people cooperate with the police and do not break the law.1 The model shows
that police legitimacy is central to these motivations, and has more of an influence than the
threat of being caught and punished, because it helps foster a sense of obligation and shared
values. The evidence suggests police legitimacy is primarily fostered by perceptions of police
fairness, and more so than by perceptions of police effectiveness (see Figure 1). Thus, by
interacting with members of the public in ways they regarded as procedurally fair, the police
should be able to help reduce crime by ‘winning hearts and minds’, and encouraging
voluntary cooperation and compliance from the public. Furthermore, by reducing overall
demand levels, fairness might also enable the police to concentrate their resources on the
areas of greatest harm.
Figure 1. The procedural justice model
1 See, for example: Jackson et al. 2013; Myhill and Quinton 2011; and Tyler, T. 2006.
While the relationships in the procedural justice model have been examined in survey data
gathered from a range of different contexts (e.g. Australia, Ghana, Jamaica)2, relatively little
attention has been paid so far to how to improve public perceptions of police procedural
fairness. Given the gaps in the research evidence, and the potential benefits of the police
adopting a more procedurally just approach, there is a need to examine what interventions
can improve the way police officers interact with members of the public to improve
perceptions of procedural fairness.
A good starting point for thinking about what interventions might be effective in ‘triggering’
the relationships in the wider model is the concept of procedural fairness. The literature
highlights that procedural fairness is made up of two main components:
The perceived fairness of police decision-making – in terms of the police:
making impartial decisions, based on fact not opinion
giving people a ‘voice’ or sense of influence during the decision-making process
listening to, and taking into account, people’s views
explaining the outcome of the decision, and how it was reached
The perceived fairness of police treatment – in terms of the police:
treating people with respect
being polite
Some empirical evidence is also available. A recent systematic review of the research
literature on legitimacy in policing has suggested that some interventions focusing on
‘dialogue’ between the police and the public can be effective in changing perceptions, but
noted a lack of randomised experiments.3 This gap in the evidence is starting to be filled, with
two randomised controlled trials having recently reported (see Table 1).
Table 1. Recent experimental studies focussed on police-public interactions.
Location Intervention Contact
type Results
Australia4 A standardised script to
direct officer conversations
breath test
The trial had a positive impact
on likelihood of compliance and
levels of satisfaction.
Chicago, USA5 A new induction course for
recruits, including the use
of role-play scenarios to
develop personalised
All police-
Promising but mixed. No impact
on attitudes of new police
recruits, but positive impacts on
videotaped and observed
An opportunity to test the impact of training
Due to concerns that GMP was not performing as well as similar forces in terms of how
satisfied victims of crime were with the service they had received, the force planned to roll
out ‘customer service’ training to all frontline officers and staff. A standard classroom-based
training package to explain the value of ‘customer service’ – but not directly address
behavioural issues – was planned. Researchers from the College of Policing identified these
2 See, for example: Tankebe 2009; Reisig and Lloyd 2009; Murphy and Cherney 2012.
3 Mazerolle et al. 2013.
4 Mazerolle et al. 2012.
5 Rosenbaum and Lawrence 2012.
initial plans as a ‘naturally occurring’ opportunity to apply an evidence-based approach to the
design and delivery of the training, and to test the impact of an initial pilot prior to any wider
implementation. Since GMP already planned to roll-out some form of training force-wide, the
development and testing of a pilot was relatively low-cost and reduced the risk that any
investment in training would be wasted.
In collaboration with the College, GMP took an innovative approach to the training pilot:
The pilot principally focussed on behaviour change in that the training sought to
enhance office communication skills to enable better interactions with crime victims.
The pilot used a range of training techniques that have been shown to be effective in
changing attitudes and behaviour. The evidence suggests that training which is
integrated into routine practice and encourages self-reflection is more likely to be
effective that traditional classroom-based approaches.6
The content of the training was consistent with evidence that quality of treatment is
most crucial factor in securing victim satisfaction.7
The pilot was implemented as a randomised control trial to test the impact of the
training on officer attitudes, officer behaviour and victim perceptions.
The randomised controlled trial
The focus of the intervention
The intervention consisted of a new training programme for response and neighbourhood
officers who were currently serving in GMP. The focus of the programme was on improving
officers’ communications with victims of crime. The expectation was that by training officers
in a series of practical techniques and improving their general communication skills, they
would be able to build rapport with victims which would, in turn, improve the perceived
quality of interactions.
The design of the intervention was linked to the concept of procedural justice in a fairly broad
sense. No explicit attempt was made to map particular aspects of the training programme to
specific elements of the theory. For example, officers were not directly taught how to make
impartial decisions, take a victim’s view into account, or explain the outcome of a decision.
Instead, the overall focus on communication skills and building rapport was expected to have
a general effect on public perceptions of fair decision-making and interpersonal treatment.
The concentration on communication skills meant the GMP intervention was markedly
different to those previously tested in Queensland and Chicago.8 In these other trials, officers
were expected to follow a standard form of words or use personalised scripts when
interacting with the public. The use of scripts was rejected in GMP for two reasons. First, it
would have been difficult to develop a script that could be applied by officers in all situations.
By focusing on officer skills, there would be scope for the intervention to improve the quality
of a wider range of interactions. Second, it was anticipated that experienced officers would
react badly and resist attempts to ‘tell them how to speak to people’. A skills-based training
programme also provided an opportunity to engage directly with officers in line with
procedural fairness (e.g. giving them a ‘voice’ and sense of influence, and listening to their
6 Wheller and Morris 2011.
7 Matrix et al. 2013.
8 Mazerolle et al 2012; Rosenbaum and Lawrence 2012.
The training programme
The training programme was made up of three slightly different courses. While focus and
content of these courses were the same, they differed in terms of their:
overall duration – either two or three days of training (up to 14 hours in total); and
method of delivery – all the courses included classroom-based training, while two of
the three courses also incorporated included a scenario-based component.
The original plan was to examine whether the programme had an overall effect on outcomes,
and then to look at whether one course was significantly better than another. In the end (due
to attrition in the sample throughout the trial) sample sizes were too small to carry out
meaningful comparisons between the individual courses. However, as all three courses were
focused on improving officer communication skills and covered the same training material
(albeit in different ways and speeds), they are regarded as a single treatment. The three
courses were run in parallel in October/November 2011, with some additional courses run in
early January 2012 for officers unable to attend during the main period.
Classroom-based learning
The content of classroom-based training focussed on teaching officers how to use a number
of specific communication techniques that were broadly linked to procedural fairness (see
Table 2). This content was consistent across all three courses. Training was designed by an
external provider and delivered by GMP trainers. The classroom-based learning encouraged
group discussion and ensured officers had the opportunity to discuss their thoughts and
opinions; an approach consistent with the idea of treating the officers in a procedurally fair
way. This gave officers the opportunity to voice their frustrations about the challenges of
dealing with victims and to ‘vent’ any concerns with the training.
In practical terms, the trainers made use of white boards, audio and video content, peer
discussion, and work in pairs or small groups to practice elements of the different
communication techniques.
Table 2. Content of classroom-based learning
Technique Description Link to procedural fairness
Using names Exploring the value of introducing
yourself by name, and using the
victim’s name, to improve rapport
Respectful treatment
Being polite
Empathy Using staged verbal communication to
build empathy with a victim by getting
the officer to recognise the victims’
emotional state, acknowledge its effect,
and then explain how they can help
Respectful treatment
Being polite
Rapport Using non-verbal communication
techniques to build rapport (eye
contact, nodding, body matching)
Giving ‘voice’
acknowledgements Using supportive language,
acknowledging the victim’s feelings,
making it clear they are being listened
to (e.g. “I understand”, “I can help
Giving ‘voice’
Technique Description Link to procedural fairness
Words/ phrases to
reconsider Asking officers to think about words
and phrases that could create barriers
with the victim. For example using the
word obviously’ when the process may
not be obvious to the victim.
Explaining decisions and
Signposting Explaining the available options to the
victim, raising awareness of the
required steps in the process, and
reducing unrealistic expectations
Giving ‘voice’
Explaining decisions and
Saying ‘no’
positively Using phrases that focus on what the
officer can do for the victim rather than
saying ‘no’ to unrealistic requests (e.g.
“what I can do is...”, “what I
recommend is...”)
Explaining decisions and
Agreement to go Before leaving an incident, encouraging
the officer to check with the victim that
they have done all they can, and to
thank them
Giving ‘voice’
Respectful treatment
Being polite
Scenario-based learning
Drawing on the approach used in Chicago, two of the three courses also included a role-play
exercise which was designed by GMP training staff and College researchers.9 The role-play
scenarios introduced a practical element to the training, giving officers the opportunity to
practice techniques they had learnt in the classroom (see Table 3). In line with recent
evidence, the intervention also made use of self-reflection, and provided personalised
feedback to officers.10 While some officers were completing their scenario, other officers
received a two hour input on the procedural justice model and its value, and took part in
exercises looking at how they thought the public perceived the service provided by GMP.
The study design
The training was implemented as a randomised controlled trial, the ‘gold standard’ approach
in evaluation research for ‘cause and effect’ to be established. Trial participants were
randomly selected from a database of all serving response and neighbourhood constables in
GMP (n=2,167). They were then randomly assigned to either:
the treatment group – to receive one of the three training courses; or
the control group – to not receive the training.11
For convenience, and with the aim of enabling comparisons between the individual courses,
the officers were assigned to one of five separate subgroups (see Table 4). Officers were
assigned at random, and comparisons of key demographic information show the treatment
and control groups to be broadly equivalent before the intervention. Thus, any differences
between them post-training can be directly attributed to the intervention.12
9 Rosenbaum and Lawrence, 2012.
10 Wheller and Morris 2011.
11 These procedures were carried out by College researchers to prevent selection bias.
12 Shadish et al 2002.
Table 3. Approach to the scenario-based learning
Phase Content
Practice Officers were given the opportunity to practice the communication skills
developed in the classroom in a role-play exercise. The officer was expected to
interact with a ‘victim’ – played by the force trainer – in a fictional call for
service scenario (a minor crime or anti-social behaviour incident). The officer
received a short briefing just prior the scenario as they would if they were
attending a real call for service. The exercise took place in the force scenario
room (a mocked-up living room) and was videoed. The scenario was made
more challenging as the victim was portrayed as someone who might be
perceived as ‘undeserving’ (e.g. a known offender) and was acting in an
agitated way (e.g. complaining about how long they have had to wait).
Reflect Afterwards, officers were given about 30 minutes to reflect on the scenario
using a debrief sheet (e.g. what went well, what they might do differently).
Feedback Officers then had a one-to-one review session with a course tutor to ensure
they received personalised feedback. Each session lasted around 30 minutes
and followed a standardised feedback model. Officers were asked for their
thoughts on the interaction and to reflect on their practice. The tutors
sometimes played back the video recording of the scenario to the officers to
highlight specific behaviours.
While the aim was for all the officers allocated to the treatment group to receive training, in
practice, not all of them ended up being trained as intended for a variety of reasons (e.g.
sickness, change of role, refusal) (see Table 4). Despite some treatment group officers not
being trained, it nevertheless remained important to include these officers in the analysis.
Excluding these officers could have biased the results as those who did not attend training
could have been systematically different to those who did (e.g. in terms of motivation, their
attitudes towards victims). The inclusion of all officers randomly assigned to the treatment
group in the analysis – regardless of whether they received the training or not – provides a
better ‘real world’ assessment of the impact of the intervention.
Table 4. Officers assigned to the treatment and control groups
Officers assigned (n) Officers trained (n)
Treatment group
Subgroup A 117 97
Subgroup B 110 101
Subgroup C 112 94
Total Treatment 339 292
Control group
Subgroup D 119 0
Subgroup E 118 0
Total Control 237 0
Grand Total 576 292
Outcome data
The trial sought to assess the impact of the intervention on officer attitudes, officer
behaviour, and victim perceptions. The effect of the training was assessed by comparing
outcomes in the treatment and control groups after implementation. The response rates for
the main outcome measures were typically high (see Technical Appendix) which reduces the
scope for non-response bias. Other, more qualitative data were also gathered to develop a
deeper understanding about officer perceptions of the training, and to examine the nature
and context of training implementation in order to help explain its impact. The main sources
of data are summarised in Table 5.
‘Intention to treat’ analysis was carried out, which involved including all officers who were
originally assigned to the treatment and control groups regardless of whether those in the
treatment group were trained.
Where possible, the analysis used scaled variables – rather than single indicators – because
they would provide a more accurate measure of the outcome. Each scaled variable was
created from a combination of single indicators which, together, measured the same
underlying concept. For example the scaled variable ‘fair treatment’ was created from three
statements in the attitudes survey:
‘I treat people with respect regardless of how they treat me’;
‘Regardless of how they behave towards the police, everyone should be treated with
the same level of respect’; and
‘If a member of the public is rude to me, I will be less polite to them’.
A mean score was calculated from responses to these indicators and used for the new scaled
variable ‘fair treatment’. Differences in mean scores between the treatment and control
groups were then compared using a t-test. When it was not possible to use a scale, single
indicators were used (in the form of a binary – e.g. yes/no, agree/disagree – variable).
Differences between the treatment and control groups were analysed using chi squared tests.
Table 5. Data sources and methods13
Data source Method
feedback Officers who attended the training were asked to complete a short paper-
based feedback questionnaire to gauge their immediate response to the
training. The questionnaire asked for opinions on both the classroom and (if
they attended it) the scenario-based elements of the training.
attitudes All officers in the treatment and control groups were asked to complete an
online survey about one month after the intervention. The survey was used
assess the impact of the training programme on officer attitudes.
Respondents were asked the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with a
series of attitudinal statements about fair treatment, fair decision making,
and attitudes towards the public.
behaviour Officers from both treatment and control groups were asked to participate in
one of three specially designed role-play exercises in early 2012 (2-3 months
after initial training). The scenarios were different to those used in the main
training, but followed the same process and were developed to the same
specifications. Crucially, while the officers were informed about what was to
happen during the exercise, the officers were not trained in any of the
communication techniques (to maintain the experimental conditions).14 Each
scenario was videoed and coded separately by two researchers from the
National Centre for Social Research using a coding framework.15 The
researchers were blind as to whether officers were in the treatment or control
group, to prevent biased coding.
perceptions GMP’s existing random telephone survey of crime victims was used. Victims
were selected if they had had contact with an officer in the treatment or
control group (n=652). Data were analysed for the period January to June
2012, meaning the impact was assessed 3 to 9 months after the training. The
analysis focused on questions about the perceived quality of interaction, as
well as satisfaction and willingness to cooperate with the police. As a random
survey of victims, some officers in the trial would have had more contact
experiences than others reflected in the data.
13 In addition, College of Policing researchers observed the delivery of a number of training
courses, and interviewed a sample of officers (n=56) and trainers (n=6), in order to develop
a deeper understanding of the intervention and the context in which it operated.
14 While role-play actors were not told which group each officer was allocated to, the process
was not completely blind; they may have recognised them from the earlier training course.
15 For coding, the scenarios were split into three phases (i.e. opening, course of action, and
closing). The ‘course of action’ phase referred to the main period of interaction in which the
officer would seek to deal with the incident (when it was assumed they might ‘revert to
type’). Most officers did not reach the closing stage of the scenario as they ran out of time.
2. Summary findings
This section summarises the main findings from the trial. It starts by discussing officer
feedback on the training, and then examines the effect of the intervention on the three main
outcomes: officer attitudes, officer behaviour, and victim perceptions.
Officer feedback
Feedback on the training was consistently positive (see Table 6). Over two-thirds of officers
were satisfied with the programme (68%) and thought they had developed practical skills
that would improve their interactions with victims (68%).
The response to the classroom element of the training was particularly good, with a large
proportion of officers saying they received helpful feedback and were able to practice their
learning (both 87%); two aspects of learning that have previously been shown to be linked to
attitude and behaviour change.16 In terms of the role-play scenarios, while one-third of those
who took part did not feel comfortable with the role-play, a much higher proportion felt it was
realistic (65%) and taught them something new (78%). Notably, almost all respondents said
they received constructive feedback (94%).17 In-depth interviews with 56 officers who
attended the course suggested that officers generally felt the role-play was a valuable part of
the training course even though they often did not enjoy taking part.
Table 6. Officer feedback (binary variables, treated officers only)
Attitude statement Agreement
Overall attitudes
Overall I was satisfied with the training course I attended 68%
I developed practical skills on the course that will help me improve the
contact I have with victims 68%
Attitudes on the classroom-based learning
I received helpful feedback in class 87%
I learnt something new from the classroom training 74%
The classroom activities gave me the chance to practice what I had learnt 87%
Attitudes on the scenario-based learning (if completed)
I did not feel comfortable taking part in the role-play 39%
I thought the role-play was realistic 65%
The role-play gave me the chance to practice what I had learnt 82%
I received constructive feedback after the role-play exercise 94%
I learnt something new from the role-play exercise 78%
Impact on officer attitudes
To assess the impact of the training on officer attitudes, eight scales were created which
broadly measured views on the impact of training; opinions about delivering quality of
service; attitudes and self-reported behaviour on interactions with the public; and perceptions
16 Wheller and Morris 2011.
17 The Technical Appendix presents results for the three separate courses. Officers tended to
be most positive about the two day ‘hybrid’ course which contained both classroom and
scenario-based learning, but reported the course material was covered too quickly.
of public cooperation. Overall, the intervention was found to have had a positive effect (see
Table 7). For four of the eight scales, officers in the treatment group, on average, had
attitudes that were significantly more positive than those in the control group.
There seemed to be a cluster of positive effects in terms of officer interactions with the
public, which was arguably the central focus of the training programme. The biggest of these
effects was in relation to officer attitudes towards building empathy and rapport with victims.
The effect was equivalent to approximately half of the officers in the treatment group moving
up one point on the seven-point scale. The training also had a positive effect on attitudes
about fair decision-making and the importance of delivering a quality service. Perhaps
unsurprisingly, treatment group officers were, on average, more likely to report they had
received training that had helped them in their interactions with the public. No effect was
found in relation to more general officer attitudes and in terms of officers reporting that the
public were willing to cooperate with the police (a secondary outcome).
Table 7. Officer attitudes (intention to treat: treatment vs. control, t-tests)
Mean score*
Outcome Treatment Control Difference
Views on the impact of training
Perceived impact of training 4.57 4.11 0.47 Yes
Opinions about delivering a quality service
Attitudes towards victims 4.29 4.38 -0.09 No
Perceived value of procedural
justice 5.13 4.92 0.21 No
Attitudes towards delivering
quality of service 4.64 4.41 0.23 Yes
Attitudes / self-reported behaviour on interactions with the public
Building empathy and rapport 5.30 4.84 0.46 Yes
Fair treatment 4.44 4.62 -0.18 No
Fair decision-making 5.75 5.58 0.18 Yes
Perceptions of public cooperation
Perceived public cooperation 4.42 4.24 0.18 No
* Range: 1-7 (more = good).
Impact on officer behaviour
As a substitute measure for officer behaviour in the ‘real world’, the way officers interacted
with a ‘victim’ during a post-intervention role-play scenario was assessed independently by
two researchers who were blind to whether officers were in the treatment or control group.
The analysis consistently showed that the intervention had a positive effect.
A single outcome scale was created from coders’ responses to seven statements measuring
the overall quality of interaction between the officer and victim. Example statements include:
‘the officer treated the victim with respect’; ‘the officer was friendly’; ‘the officer was
courteous’; ‘the officer was reassuring’. A significant difference was found in favour of the
treatment group (see Table 8). In support of this finding, a significantly higher proportion of
treatment group officers (48%) were rated as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ in terms of their overall
performance during the scenario compared to those in the control group (22%).
Table 8. Officer behaviour (intention to treat: treatment vs. control, t-tests)
Mean score*
Scale Treatment Control Difference
Quality of interaction 5.42 5.13 0.29 Yes
* Range: 1-7 (more = good).
Further analysis looked at whether officers used some of the communication techniques
taught during the training during the role-play. Compared to those in the control group, the
officers in the treatment group were, on average, more likely to acknowledge the victim’s
emotional state and empathise with the victim at different stages of the interaction.
Importantly, and in line with the principles of procedural justice, treatment group officers
were much more likely than control group officers to give victims a ‘voice’ about how the
incident should be handled (a 14 percentage point difference).
There were significant differences between the two groups in their use of body language, but
no consistency in these outcomes. While treatment group officers were more likely to match
victims’ body language (a taught technique), control group officers were more likely to orient
their body towards the victim.
Table 9. Officer behaviour (intention to treat: treatment vs. control, chi squared test)
The officer… Treatment Control Significant
During the opening stage of the interaction
Acknowledged the victim’s emotional state 28% 17% Yes
Empathised with the victim’s situation 34% 17% Yes
Placed blame elsewhere 16% 18% No
During the main stage of the interaction
Acknowledged the victim’s emotional state 41% 28% Yes
Empathised with the victim’s situation 58% 43% Yes
Placed blame elsewhere 3% 5% No
Gave the victim a choice of options 73% 59% Yes
In general
Made an apology 65% 63% No
Identified how issue can be dealt with 27% 20% No
Oriented their body toward the victim 68% 82% Yes*
Used body matching 24% 11% Yes
Adopted a listening position 94% 91% No
Said ‘no’ positively 27% 16% No
Used positive acknowledgements 77% 72% No
Used police jargon 16% 14% No
* In favour of the control group.
Impact on victim perceptions
An overall ‘quality of interaction’ scale was created using ten questions in the victim survey
which asked respondents to assess how they were treated by the officer they had contact
with. Example questions include: ‘the officer treated me fairly’; ‘the officer made me feel
reassured’; ‘the officer treated me with respect’; ‘the officer made an effort to understand’.
The analysis showed there was a statistically significant difference for this outcome in favour
of the intervention group (see Table 8). In other words, victims who had contact with
treatment group officers were more likely to say they received better treatment than those
who had contact with control group officers. The size of this effect was fairly small – roughly
equivalent to one in ten officers scoring one point higher on a four-point scale.
Table 10. Victim perceptions (intention to treat: treatment vs. control, t-test)
Mean score*
Scale Treatment Control Difference
Quality of interaction 3.68 3.59 0.09 Yes
Willingness to cooperate 3.80 3.81 0.00 No
* Range: 1-4 (more = good).
Analysis of the items that made up this quality of interaction scale highlighted two aspects of
the interaction where the effect of the training was most greatly felt (see Technical
Appendix). A significantly higher proportion of treatment group victims (relative to control
group victims) ‘strongly agreed’ that the police: appeared interested (68% compared to
60%); and made them feel reassured (66% compared to 55%). These results are consistent
with results about officer attitudes and behaviour change which appeared to focus on
empathy and rapport.
The effect of training was also examined in terms of victims’ perceptions of how they were
treated and the overall service they received (Table 11). No significant differences were
found, possibly because these measures may be subject to other factors unconnected to the
intervention (e.g. speed of initial response, quality of follow-up). However, 61 percent of
victims who had contact with treatment group officers were ‘completely satisfied’ with
treatment compared with 54 percent of victims who had contact with control group officers.
This was close to being significant, but fell just short.18
Table 11. Victim satisfaction (intention to treat: treatment vs. control, chi squared test)
‘Completely satisfied’
Satisfaction with… Treatment Control
The way you were treated 61% 54% No
The service provided 47% 46% No
Finally, no difference was identified between the two groups in terms of the willingness of
victims to cooperate with the police in the future – a secondary outcome that was much less
likely to be affected by the intervention (Table 10). This scale was created using responses to
five questions, including: ‘How likely would you be to willingly assist the police if asked’.
18 When ‘as treated’ analysis was carried out (which excluded victims who had contact with
officers in the treatment who were not trained), the difference became significant.
It was clear from the survey that a high proportion of respondents were ‘completely’, ‘very’ or
‘fairly satisfied’ with the police and said they were willing to cooperate with the police. The
skewed nature of the data and the sample size meant that there was limited scope for the
evaluation to detect a significant difference between the treatment and control groups. The
relatively small sample required the training to have a large effect, which was not likely
because victims generally tended to be positive in their views. This situation meant the
positive result for the ‘quality of interaction’ scale is all the more notable. Moreover, it is
possible that the training might have a greater impact on more challenging police-public
encounters, where people have more varied perceptions of how they have been treated by
officers (e.g. police initiated encounters such as traffic stops and stop and search).
3. Conclusions and implications
This study demonstrates that communication skills training can improve the victim
experience. Randomised control trials are the ‘gold standard’ approach when establishing
cause and effect in evaluation research, meaning we can confidently ascribe differences
between treatment and control groups to the training intervention. Findings from the trial
show that the intervention had a consistent and positive impact on officer attitudes, officer
behaviour, and victim perceptions. For each broad outcome area, there was some evidence
that the treatment group was different to the control group in favour of the intervention. In
other words, this study shows that, in the right context, communication skills training can
improve attitudes and behaviour. Most importantly, the design of the study allows us to
conclude that victims of crime received a better quality of contact from officers as a direct
result of this training.
Pattern of results
Looking across the three outcomes, an interesting pattern of results appeared to emerge
which might tell us something about that nature of the training’s impact. Officers in the
treatment group held more positive attitudes in some specific areas, particularly in terms of
providing a quality service; showing victims empathy; and making decisions fairly. In broad
terms, these attitudinal changes were consistent with our findings on officer behaviour and
victim perceptions. Officers in the treatment group were more likely to acknowledge and
empathise with a victim’s situation, and to seek their views on how the police should deal
with the incident (a key element to procedural fairness). Together these findings suggest that
– rather than officers adopting specific techniques or skills they were taught on the course
training encouraged a general shift in the way officers approached interactions with the
public. Officers in the treatment group potentially developed a greater awareness of the need
to listen to, and build rapport with, victims of crime.
Training and behaviour change
This study demonstrates that the right training can change officer behaviour. This is an
important finding given the limited evidence of ‘what works’ in delivering police training.
Police training can clearly make a difference, and this study represents a useful starting point
for exploring the impact of different approaches to training, building on previous work in
other parts of the public sector.19 In statistical terms, some effects from the training, though
important and meaningful, are relatively small, and this suggests training which ignores
important aspects of the overall intervention (e.g. practical skills development/ use of
scenarios) may risk having no measurable impact. Large scale ‘sheep dip’ knowledge training
therefore may not be a useful approach.
Procedural justice
This trial has demonstrated the efficacy of one mechanism for improving quality of treatment.
The findings of the study are subsequently important to our understanding of the procedural
justice model. While there was limited scope for the trial to detect any improvement in
victims’ willingness to cooperate, it did show that – in the right circumstances – training can
improve people’s perceptions of how they are treated by the police. Training which teaches
officers how to communicate and build rapport with victims may provide an ‘entry point’ to
19 Wheller and Morris, 2011.
the procedural justice model for the police. Due to the design of the evaluation, the impact of
training was tested in isolation. In the real world there is scope to support the central
messages from communication skills training through other mechanisms such as visible
management support and communication strategies.
Further research
This study highlights that police-public interactions are a fruitful area for research. In the UK
victim satisfaction is generally strongly skewed to positive outcomes, leaving limited scope for
improvement. It is therefore notable that any effect was found in relation to victim
perceptions at all. Outside the UK, where victim satisfaction is generally lower, there remains
scope for testing the impact of communication skills training on victim perceptions.
In the UK, further research would be valuable to investigate the impact of communication
skills training in other areas of policing. This study focuses on crime victims and public-
initiated contacts. Testing the impact of training interventions designed to change behaviour
in more challenging encounters, for example police-initiated contacts such as traffic stops and
stop-and-search, would help fill an important gap in the evidence base. To this end the
College of Policing is planning to collaborate with West Midlands Police to test the effect of a
similar training programme on the public’s experience of stop and search.
Practical implications
Findings from this trial show that communication skills training can improve officer attitudes,
officer behaviour, and victim perceptions of treatment. This study suggests that there is value
in forces exploring other applications of communication skills training to police-public
interactions. However it is important that forces consider the context of implementation; and
the possible ‘return on investment’ before committing to this sort of intervention.
The context of implementation is vitally important. GMP’s starting point for the pilot was its
low levels in satisfaction among four categories of victim relative to other forces. Not all
forces will have as much scope to make improvements if they use the training, and measure
its impact, in the same way. It is possible, though, that the training could have more of an
effect on other police-public encounters where satisfaction is much less likely or the victim is
more challenging – meaning there is more scope to make improvements. Examples might
include police contact with repeat victims and victims of ASB, situations where the victim is
perceived by officers to be ‘undeserving’ of a good service (perhaps because he or she has
been an offender), and police-initiated encounters such as stop and search.
Return on investment is also important, and the cost of training – which required officers to
be abstracted from ordinary duties for a minimum of two days – should be weighed up
against the potential benefits. While there may be scope to deliver the training in a more
efficient way, any training will have resource implications. There are potential risks to
reducing the scenario-based content of the course (the most resource intensive aspect) as
some effects of the training (though significant) are relatively small, and ‘what works’
evidence in general suggests scenario based learning and self-reflection are more likely to
improve attitudes and behaviours than classroom-based training alone.20
Importantly, this study also demonstrates that it is possible for the police service to evaluate
the impact of training on attitudes, behaviour and outcomes on the ground. Given the current
financial challenges faced by policing in the UK and around the world, it is increasingly
important that the training interventions police services invest in are tested for their efficacy.
20 Wheller and Morris, 2011.
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... First, the studies varied in the intensity of the training delivered. Specifically, four studies featured one-time delivery of communication skills training to in-service officers with no future re-training (Owens et al., 2016;Schaefer & Hughes, 2016;Skogan et al., 2015;Wheller et al., 2013), while the other two programs involved integrating communication skills training into the curriculum for new recruits (Robertson et al., 2014;Rosenbaum & Lawrence, 2013). 1 Second, studies varied in the outcomes measured. Several studies included attitudinal measures as outcomes (Rosenbaum & Lawrence, 2013;Schaefer & Hughes;Skogan et al., 2015), while others relied on behavioral measures of officers' social interaction skills (Owens et al., 2016;Wheller et al., 2013). ...
... Specifically, four studies featured one-time delivery of communication skills training to in-service officers with no future re-training (Owens et al., 2016;Schaefer & Hughes, 2016;Skogan et al., 2015;Wheller et al., 2013), while the other two programs involved integrating communication skills training into the curriculum for new recruits (Robertson et al., 2014;Rosenbaum & Lawrence, 2013). 1 Second, studies varied in the outcomes measured. Several studies included attitudinal measures as outcomes (Rosenbaum & Lawrence, 2013;Schaefer & Hughes;Skogan et al., 2015), while others relied on behavioral measures of officers' social interaction skills (Owens et al., 2016;Wheller et al., 2013). Lonsway and colleagues (2001) noted that officers trained to improve interactions with victims of sexual assault did not report any changes in attitudes regarding sexual assault victims such as rape myth acceptance. ...
... Finally, the training programs varied by their method of implementation. Some programs attempted to include scenario-based training (e.g., Wheller et al., 2013), but others still included lectures by university professors (see e.g., Rosenbaum & Lawrence, 2013) or were primarily discussion-based (e.g., Skogan et al., 2015). In sum, while we have done a better job in recent years attempting to translate empirically-supported theory into training practice, our knowledge of "what works" is largely limited to a single framework (i.e., procedural justice), and the limitations of programs and evaluations provide plenty of justification for evaluating larger and more sustained training programs. ...
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Research Summary We conducted a randomized-controlled trial (RCT) of a social interaction training program to determine its effectiveness in improving attitudes and behaviors among police officers. Survey data and a series of difference-indifference tests found that participating in the training program improved attitudes with treatment group officers placing higher priorities on procedurally-fair communication during a hypothetical officer-citizen encounter. An interrupted-time series analysis of official use of force reports provided no evidence that the training program altered officer behavior. Policy Implications Policing scholars and reformers have increasingly called for improvements to police training that emphasize communication and de-escalation skills. While many programs addressing these issues exist, evidence of their effectiveness has been scarce. Our findings provide evidence that such training may improve police officer attitudes, but perhaps not behaviors.
... SBT is a broad conceptualization of training concerned with the authentic, safe replication of the characteristics of the operational environment (Alison et al., 2013;Wollert and Quail, 2018;Jenkins et al., 2020). Research (e.g., Wheller and Morris, 2010;Wheller et al., 2013;Miller and Alexandrou, 2016) shows that 'modelling behaviours' through SBT is more likely to impact 'street-level' officer behaviour and can improve 'traditional' delivery of police training. SBT is a holistic training approach that when delivered in an authentic and consistent manner encourages learner-centred training when tactics, decision-making and problem-solving are critical (Birzer and Tannehill, 2001;Birzer, 2003;McCoy, 2006;Cleveland and Saville, 2007;Werth, 2011;Rajakaruna et al., 2017). ...
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This paper outlines an analysis of using Scenario-Based-Training (SBT) to change officer Personal Safety Training (PST) based on existing research evidence and reflections from supporting a National Police Agency attempting to change PST practice. SBT is interrogated in light of its underlying assumptions and situated within the ambiguities, tensions and compromises inherent within police training cultures. Using Windschitl’s framework of conceptual, pedagogical, cultural, and political dilemmas this paper analyses the forces impacting using SBT to change PST. An alternative agenda for change is presented to develop skilled officers and trainers equipped with innovative pedagogies to ‘re-culture’ PST.
... Appreciating the implications of such research, police agencies have put increasing emphasis on procedural justice in policing practices. For example, police agencies around the world now engage in procedural justice training for police recruits (e.g., Skogan et al., 2015;Wheller et al., 2013). Procedurally just policing has strong, tangible benefits for police: Training in procedural justice principles can increase public satisfaction with police agencies (Dai, 2020), as well as reduce complaints against police and even reduce police use of force against civilians (Wood et al., 2020). ...
Objective(s): We assessed the impact of body-worn cameras (BWCs) in two countries on perceptions of everyday encounters with police, independent of officer respectfulness and participants' preexisting trust in police. Hypotheses: We expected BWC presence, officer respectfulness, and preexisting trust in police to all significantly improve individuals' perceptions of a police encounter. We also expected interactions indicating that BWC presence and preexisting trust in police reduce the effect of officer respectfulness on perceptions of the encounter. Method: In each of three experimental studies, we measured participants' preexisting trust in police, and then presented participants with a vignette describing an encounter with a police officer in which officer respectfulness (respectful, disrespectful) and the presence/disclosure of a BWC (absent, present and disclosed by officer, present but undisclosed by officer) were independently manipulated. In Studies 1 (N = 422, Mage = 29 years, 73% women, 68% Australian) and 2 (N = 210, Mage = 19 years, 64% women, 59% Hispanic) in Australia and the United States, respectively, participants assumed the role of the driver in a traffic stop as they read the vignette. In study 3 (N = 504, Mage = 29 years, 72% women, 34% English), participants in Australia assumed the role of a citizen interacting with a police officer enforcing COVID-related restrictions. Participants then recorded their perceptions of procedural justice of and satisfaction with the encounter, legitimacy of the police, and willingness to co-operate with police. Results: Across three studies and two countries, we found no support for the notion that BWC presence influenced people's perceptions of police-citizen interactions independent of officer respectfulness and preexisting trust. Conclusion: The effect of BWC presence, established in prior research, might operate via its effect on officer respectfulness. These findings underscore the importance of preexisting trust in police and respectful behavior by police officers, even in BWC-recorded encounters. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
... Assessments should be performance-based and assess the demonstration of 'real world' capabilities. Several scholars suggest this approach to be effective because it incorporates complexity, choice and discretion, which reflects the reality of policing (Knowles, 1990;Rachal, 2002;Wheller et al., 2013). By introducing a Muslim facilitator, a view from the community can be provided at each juncture of the case, allowing the training environment to mirror the different voices in the community. ...
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Since the seminal 1999 Macpherson report, hate crime has become a barometer for contemporary police relations with vulnerable and marginalised communities. The need to understand hate has resulted in a demand for impartial law enforcement and skilled police officers who appreciate the nuances of hatred and its impact on vulnerable populations. However, whilst the police are increasingly expected to be active agents in the response to hate crime, they continue to be criticised for over-policing and under-protecting certain communities. This paper examines the insights of key stakeholders involved in policing anti-Muslim hate crime in a northern town in England, gathered through in-depth semi-structured interviews with the region's police force and a third-sector agency. The paper unpacks what the policing of anti-Muslim hate crime entails, drawing upon the role of different agencies and providing lessons for the services involved in the current police-led model. Our results point to variability in understanding what constitutes anti-Muslim hate crime; challenges in understanding and responding to victims' needs with limited resources; and the need for a system which extends beyond a criminal justice response.
... Ethical leadership, as described by Brown and Trevino (2006), requires careful attention by leaders to both decision making and the modeling behaviors that reinforce the values and ethics underpinning the decisions. Therefore, police leaders need to focus on three things: to pay as much attention to procedural justice inside the organization as outside (Bradford & Quinton, 2014); to use the best evidence on how to prepare their staff to deliver proactive policing in a procedurally just way (Wheller, Quinton, Fildes, & Mills, 2013); and to track the outputs and outcomes and feedback to staff (and the "'audience"), and put in place corrections in such a way that staff are both held to account for and engaged in the strategy (Slothower, Sherman, & Neyroud, 2015). As such, arrest would never, on its own, be a suitable or sufficient measure of the effectiveness of policing. ...
... Positive interactions with the police and the public can ameliorate even adverse legal decisions, it is argued, so police must temper their approach in how law is enforced (Tyler and Huo 2002, Tyler 2003, Tyler 2004, Tyler 2006. Such an approach has given rise to several experimental studies testing ideas about police civility and procedural justice (Mazerolle et al. 2012, Wheller et al. 2013, Murphy et al. 2014, Bates et al. 2015, MacQueen and Bradford 2015, Lowrey et al. 2016, Sargeant et al. 2016, Sahin et al. 2017. The findings of these studies offer mixed messages about police interactions with the public and how police direct transactional behaviour may affect perceptions of procedural justice (Maguire 2018), creating problems and opportunities for better understanding the dynamics behind how the public affirms or denies police legitimacy. ...
The history of policing in the United States is a history of tension between the police and the public, especially in marginalised communities, where the legitimacy of the police and their interventions has been most questioned. Marginalised and often minority communities often complain about over and under policing, that is, policing that harasses local residents but does not address serious crime. In recent years, concerns with the institutional legitimacy of the police in the US and elsewhere have risen in public discussions and in scientific research. Current models of police legitimacy tend to focus on transactions between the police and the public over matters of procedural justice; however, taking a more contextual view of police interventions in communities provides opportunities to look beyond transactions and sort out the socio-cultural acceptance of the police against the myriad of services they provide to communities. Here we focus on census tracts in Boston, merging calls for service data with perceptual survey data. We find significant differences in the types of police services requested by advantaged and disadvantaged communities. Public-initiated calls for service are largely for emergency response matters as opposed to crime prevention and community restoration; police-initiated services, however, are more evenly distributed across prevention, response, and restoration. While residents of disadvantaged, high-crime communities request the police more often, they perceive themselves as unwilling to report crime. Additionally, they perceive their communities as unsafe while also viewing the police as less legitimate.
Scandals over covert policing, historic misconduct, corruption and police-involved shootings have, alongside changing demands and budget austerity, presented police leaders with a very challenging political and operational environment and a loss of legitimacy. In the UK and the USA, there have been debates about the need for a new police professionalism and a strategy focused on building and sustaining police legitimacy. This chapter will draw on the Neyroud Review of Police Leadership, the President’s Commission on Policing for the twenty-first century and the work of Bottoms and Tankebe on police legitimacy to explore ethical leadership in policing. Drawing on Bottoms and Tankebe, the chapter will focus specifically on four dimensions of ethical policing: procedural justice, distributive justice, lawfulness and effectiveness. A particular focus on effectiveness will be the extent to which “doing the right things for the right reasons” increasingly requires police leaders to draw on the best evidence to challenge existing practice and develop and test evidence-based approaches.
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Evidence-based policing (EBP) has emerged as a key strand of police innovation since Sherman’s (1998) Police Foundation lecture. However, for others EBP raises as many questions as answers. One of the most contentious areas is the role advocated for randomised controlled trials in testing practice and developing knowledge to support EBP. RCTs are controversial with some scholars who argue that policing is not comparable to medicine and that RCTs are unable to reflect the complexity of the police role and context. Even those who advocate the use of RCTs recognise that there are significant challenges in achieving the high dosage and high fidelity that a successful experiment requires. This dissertation responds to these challenges by analysing the completed randomised controlled trials in policing and using a case study, Operation Turning Point, to identify the factors that may contribute to the conduct and management of police field trials with high levels of treatment integrity. In the introduction, Chapter 1, the approach is set out, framed around grounded theory, to be developed in four, linked, chapters. Chapter 2 is focused on understanding treatment integrity in RCTs involving the police: A search for police RCTs is produced 122 Police RCTs completed and reported by 2016. The levels of treatment integrity are analysed. 78 of the 122 RCTs exceeded a 60% threshold, with 49 being above 90%. In Chapter 3, a “novice theory” is developed and tested as an explanation for levels of treatment integrity in police randomised controlled trials: Analysis of the 122 RCTs suggests that “novice theory” can provide an explanation for the general patterns of treatment integrity. Further detailed analysis suggested that there are, however, other factors which may be important in determining the treatment integrity. These are developed in Chapter 4, which centres on a case study of Operation Turning Point. Using published case studies and an analysis of juvenile justice RCTs, a potential framework of operational factors is developed that appear to be important in effective conduct and management. The Turning Point case study is used to develop and expand on those operational factors. Finally, taking the two together, the analysis concluded that, beyond the operational factors, there were some more strategic, “protective factors” that were also critical. These are developed in Chapter 5, by using the coding and analysis of interviews with a sample of key staff involved in Turning Point Our analysis suggests that novice theory needs to be understood in the context of both the operational and protective factors that we have identified. Taken together these findings indicate the potential advantages of building institutional frameworks in which the development of practitioners and researchers and the conduct and management of experimental research could be brought closer together. We conclude with ten recommendations designed to improve the treatment integrity of police RCTs.
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Past research has shown that procedural justice enhances an authority's legitimacy and encourages people to cooperate with them. However, this past research has examined legitimacy by focusing solely on the perceived legitimacy of authorities and has ignored how people may perceive the legitimacy of the laws and rules authorities enforce. This distinction has relevance to the policing of ethnic minority groups who may come from different cultures or countries where distrust in the law and legal institutions is prevalent. Using survey data collected from a random sample of 1,203 Australians, this paper explores how procedural justice and both institutional and legal legitimacy impact on people's willingness to cooperate with police. The findings will be explained using Braithwaite's (2003; 2010) social distancing framework.
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Objectives We undertook a systematic review and meta-analysis to synthesize the published and unpublished empirical evidence on the impact of police-led interventions that use procedurally just dialogue focused on improving citizen perceptions of police legitimacy. Methods The systematic search included any public police intervention where there was a statement that the intervention involved police dialogue with citizens that either was aimed explicitly at improving police legitimacy, or used at least one core ingredient of procedural justice dialogue: police encouraging citizen participation, remaining neutral in their decision making, conveying trustworthy motives, or demonstrating dignity and respect throughout interactions. The studies included in our meta-analyses also had to include at least one direct outcome that measured legitimacy or procedural justice, or one outcome that is common in the legitimacy extant literature: citizen compliance, cooperation, confidence or satisfaction with police. We conducted separate meta-analyses, using random effects models, for each outcome. Results For every single one of our outcome measures, the effect of legitimacy policing was in a positive direction, and, for all but the legitimacy outcome, statistically significant. Notwithstanding the variability in the mode in which legitimacy policing is delivered (i.e., the study intervention) and the complexities around measurement of legitimacy outcomes, our review shows that the dialogue component of front-line police-led interventions is an important vehicle for promoting citizen satisfaction, confidence, compliance and cooperation with the police, and for enhancing perceptions of procedural justice. Conclusions In practical terms, our research shows the benefits of police using dialogue that adopts at least one of the principles of procedural justice as a component part of any type of police intervention, whether as part of routine police activity or as part of a defined police crime control program. Our review provides evidence that legitimacy policing is an important precursor for improving the capacity of policing to prevent and control crime.
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Recent criminological emphasis on the salience of normative concerns, such as procedural fairness and legitimacy, in understanding public law-abiding behavior has been based on evidence from Anglo-American studies. This article examines these issues in the African context based on general survey data from Accra, Ghana. The results show a lack of empirical validity, in the Ghanaian context, of the Sunshine–Tyler legitimacy scale. The results also show that public cooperation with the police in Ghana is shaped by utilitarian factors such as perceptions of current police effectiveness infighting crime. It is argued that the importance of perceived police effectiveness to public cooperation is a result of police legitimation deficits and the public's alienation from the Ghana police, which in turn are traced to the colonial history of the police and current poor police performance.
Drawing on procedural justice theory and research, this study uses survey data from a sample of Jamaican high school students (N = 289) to evaluate hypotheses derived from the process-based model of policing. Findings reveal that the correlation between procedural justice judgments and police legitimacy is positive and statistically significant. Students who rate police practices more favorably in terms of procedural justice also report a greater willingness to help the police fight crime (e.g., report suspicious activity to the police) in their community. In combination, the findings show that these two key process-based model hypotheses generalize to the Jamaican context. Although the correlation between police legitimacy and behavioral cooperation is in the expected direction, the relationship is not statistically significant. The findings also show that students from impoverished local communities dominated by ĝ€area donsĝ€ are less willing to help the police fight crime.
Objectives To test, under randomized field trial conditions, the impact of police using the principles of procedural justice during routine encounters with citizens on attitudes towards drink-driving, perceptions of compliance, and their satisfaction with the police. Methods We conducted the first randomized field trial—the ‘Queensland Community Engagement Trial’ (QCET)—to test the impact of police engaging with citizens by operationalizing the key ingredients of procedural justice (neutrality, citizen participation, respect, and trustworthy motives) in a short, high-volume police–citizen encounter. We randomly allocated 60 roadside Random Breath Testing (RBT) operations to control (business-as-usual) and experimental (procedural justice) conditions. Driver surveys were used to measure the key outcomes: attitudes towards drinking and driving, satisfaction with police and perceptions of compliance. Results Citizen perceptions of the encounter revealed that the experimental treatment was delivered as planned. We also found significant differences between the experimental and control groups on all key outcome measures: drivers who received the experimental RBT encounter were 1.24 times more likely to report that their views on drinking and driving had changed than the control group; experimental respondents reported small but higher levels of compliance (d = .07) and satisfaction (d = .18) with police during the encounter than did their control group counterparts. Conclusions Our results show that the way citizens perceive the police can be influenced by the way in which police interact with citizens during routine encounters, and demonstrate the positive benefits of police using the principles of procedural justice. Our study was limited by the use of paper-only surveys and low response rate. We also recognize that the experiment setting (RBT road blocks) is limiting and non-reflective of the wider set of routine police–citizen encounters. Future research should be undertaken, using experimental methods, to replicate our field operationalization of procedural justice in different types of police–citizen encounters.