Procedural justice and police legitimacy: a systematic review of the research evidence

Mazerolle, Lorraine, Bennett, Sarah, Davis, Jacqueline, Sargeant, Elise and Manning, Matthew (2013) Procedural justice and police legitimacy: a systematic review of the research evidence. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 9 3: 245-274. doi:10.1007/s11292-013-9175-2

Author Mazerolle, Lorraine
Bennett, Sarah
Davis, Jacqueline
Sargeant, Elise
Manning, Matthew
Title Procedural justice and police legitimacy: a systematic review of the research evidence
Journal name Journal of Experimental Criminology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1573-3750
Publication date 2013-09-01
Year available 2013
Sub-type Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
DOI 10.1007/s11292-013-9175-2
Volume 9
Issue 3
Start page 245
End page 274
Total pages 30
Place of publication New York, NY, United States
Publisher Springer
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Objectives We undertook a systematic review and meta-analysis to synthesize the published and unpublished empirical evidence on the impact of police-led interventions that use procedurally just dialogue focused on improving citizen perceptions of police legitimacy.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.
Keyword Police legitimacy
Procedural justice
Randomized field trial
Systematic review
Public Satisfaction
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
Collections: Institute for Social Science Research - Publications
Official 2014 Collection
School of Social Science Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 27 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 40 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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