Faculty of law blogs / UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD

Triggers of Change to Public Confidence in the Police and Criminal Justice System


Time to read

2 Minutes

Ben Bradford and co-author Andy Myhill, from the College of Policing, have a new paper out in Criminology and Criminal Justice which examines the play off between instrumental and expressive 'drivers' of public confidence in the police and Criminal Justice System. The paper finds that expressive concerns about low level disorder and collective efficacy in local areas play a more important role in shaping confidence than instrumental factors such as victimisation.

The abstract is reproduced below, and a full copy of the paper can be found here.

Accounts of public ‘trust and confidence’ in criminal justice agencies often fall into one of two camps. Instrumental accounts suggest that people trust police and the criminal justice system (CJS) when they believe them to be effective in fighting crime and reducing offending. Expressive or affective accounts, by contrast, suggest people place as much or more emphasis on the social meaning of justice institutions as on their instrumental activities. In this paper we add to recent studies that have sought to weigh up the balance between instrumental and expressive factors. Using data from the Crime Survey of England and Wales panel experiment, we present evidence that trust in police and the wider CJS is implicated in public concerns about the nature of local order and cohesion. The expressive account appears to offer a better understanding of why people may grant trust to, or withdraw trust from, the police and CJS.