Legitimacy in policing: A systematic review
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Police require voluntary cooperation from the general public to be effective in controlling crime and maintaining order. Research shows that citizens are more likely to cooperate with the police and obey the law when they view the police's authority as legitimate. One way that the police can increase their legitimacy and gain cooperation and respect from citizens is by using "procedurally just" dialogue that adopts language that treats citizens with dignity and respect, conveys trustworthy motives, allows citizens to speak up and express their views during encounters, and by not "profiling" people based on race, gender or any other characteristic. The objective of our review was to systematically assess the direct and indirect benefits of interventions led by the public police that contained elements of this type of procedurally just dialogue. The systematic search found 163 studies that reported on police-led interventions, and a final set of 30 studies contained data suitable for meta-analysis. The direct outcomes analyzed were legitimacy, procedural justice, and citizen cooperation/compliance and satisfaction/confidence in the police. In addition, an indirect outcome, reoffending, was also analyzed. The main finding of this review is that police interventions that comprised dialogue with a procedural justice component (or stated specifically that the intervention sought to increase legitimacy) did indeed enhance citizens' views on the legitimacy of the police, with all direct outcomes apart from legitimacy itself being statistically significant. Our review shows that by police adopting procedurally just dialogue, they can use a variety of interventions to enhance legitimacy, reduce reoffending, and promote citizen satisfaction, confidence, compliance and cooperation with the police.
The Campbell Collaboration Library of Systematic Reviews
Copyright remains with the authors 2013. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Police Administration, Procedures and Practice