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Drivers of Public Trust and Confidence in Police in the UK

NCJ Number
International Journal of Police Science & Management Volume: 14 Issue: 2 Dated: Summer 2012 Pages: 118-135
Simon Merry; Nicola Power; Michelle McManus; Laurence Alison
Date Published
18 pages
This study investigated the key factors driving the public's trust and confidence in police methods in the United Kingdom.
The term 'public confidence' has become the key indicator of trust, legitimacy and consent in policing and it is this measure of confidence that has become the overarching conceptualization of successful policing. This paper focuses on providing a greater understanding of drivers of public confidence in the police using 3 surveys of the same community: Community Safety Survey (N = 4,499), Victim Satisfaction Survey (N = 1,084) and the Anti-Social Behavior Survey (N = 301). Gender and age differences were found, with females and older participants exhibiting higher confidence in policing. Non-criminal aspects of policing such as improved community cohesion and visibility were found to aid confidence. Further, crime-related policing was found to influence overall satisfaction following an incident with some crimes handled better than others (e.g., burglary) and customer care needing improvement in certain areas (e.g., updated information). Although this research found confidence levels to be positive overall, there was also evidence of the positive-negative asymmetry effect, where participants' confidence levels shifted following experience with the police. This paper provides further support for citizen-focused initiatives in which community focus and communication should be at the center of strategies for improving confidence in policing. (Published Abstract)