Trust in justice and the legitimacy of legal authorities

Topline findings from a European comparative study

Authored by: Mike Hough , Jonathan Jackson , Ben Bradford

The Routledge Handbook of European Criminology

Print publication date:  July  2013
Online publication date:  August  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415685849
eBook ISBN: 9780203083505
Adobe ISBN: 9781136185496

10.4324/9780203083505.ch14

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Abstract

This chapter presents findings on public trust in justice drawn from the fifth European Social Survey (ESS), carried out in 28 countries in 2010/11 (see European Social Survey, 2011, 2012). The dataset used here covers 26 of the 28 countries, and has a total sample size of almost 51,000 people. The analysis is thus on a large scale, and serves as an exemplar of a particular approach to comparative research, involving empirical testing of a theoretical model. We and colleagues designed the module on trust to test an elaborated version of Tyler’s (Tyler, 2006a; Tyler and Huo, 2002) procedural justice theory, which posits that fair treatment by police and other justice officials yields public trust in justice, which in turn consolidates the legitimacy of institutions of justice, and thus public cooperation and compliance with the law. To anticipate our conclusions, we find good support across a variety of European countries on the links between trust in the police and people’s perceptions of the legitimacy of the police.

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