Understanding the Contingency of Procedural Justice Outcomes
Procedural justice theory and research have important implications for police policy and practice. There exists a large literature on the topic, with research showing that groups do respond positively to fair and respectful treatment by police. Recent research and debates particularly in the United Kingdom and Australia have drawn attention to the different and varied ways in which procedural justice has an impact on police legitimacy and cooperation with police, and the mechanisms through which this occurs. This has implications for how police scholars and practitioners understand and study police legitimacy. The authors aim to make a contribution to this emerging body of work by highlighting limitations with current procedural justice research and argue that the issues of contingency and variability have not been adequately addressed. We argue this is important when it comes to the policing of ethnic communities. The article focuses on attitudes towards the law and social distancing to highlight how procedural justice outcomes can vary across groups and contexts. In particular, we draw on Braithwaite's (2009) theory of social distancing to explain how people's willingness to cooperate with police can be influenced by their motivational posturing. This highlights the psychological mechanisms that impact on the effectiveness of a process-based model of policing.