Career Development Fellow in Criminology
Ben's research focuses primarily on issues of trust and legitimacy as these apply to the police and the wider criminal justice system. International and cross-national comparisons of these issues are a growing research interest, and his work has a particular emphasis on procedural justice theory and the intersection of social-psychological and sociological explanatory paradigms. He has collaborated with the London Metropolitan Police and the National Policing Improvement Agency on several research projects concerned with improving police understanding of public opinions and priorities.
B Bradford, A Huq, J Jackson and B Roberts, 'What price fairness when security is at stake? Police legitimacy in South Africa' (2013) Regulation and Governance [...]
The legitimacy of legal authorities – particularly the police – is central to the state's ability to function in a normatively justifiable and effective manner. Studies, mostly conducted in the US and UK, regularly find that procedural justice is the most important antecedent of police legitimacy, with judgments about other aspects of police behavior – notably, about effectiveness – appearing less relevant. But this idea has received only sporadic testing in less cohesive societies where social order is more tenuous, resources to sustain it scarcer, and the position of the police is less secure. This paper considers whether the link between process fairness and legitimacy holds in the challenging context of present day South Africa. In a high crime and socially divided society, do people still emphasize procedural fairness or are they more interested in instrumental effectiveness? How is the legitimacy of the police influenced by the wider problems faced by the South African state? We find procedural fairness judgments play a key role, but also that South Africans place greater emphasis on police effectiveness (and concerns about crime). Police legitimacy is, furthermore, associated with citizens' judgments about the wider success and trustworthiness of the state.
EA Stanko, J Jackson, B Bradford and K Hohl, 'A golden thread, a presence amongst uniforms, and a good deal of data: studying public confidence in the London Metropolitan Police' (2012) 22 Policing and Society [...]
This article discusses how four authors came together to create – inside a police service – a specific approach to public ‘trust and confidence’. We have had many theoretical debates – about the nature of public understanding of policing, police culture, procedural justice and public trust in public institutions in a democracy. Also, while we continue to debate, we wade through mounds of data gathered routinely through the Metropolitan Police's own Public Attitude Survey. Reporting internally on a quarterly basis, the survey challenges police colleagues to think about how the police must demonstrate to citizens their trustworthiness to act fairly, effectively and with the best interests of communities at heart. Our experience of moulding the discourse about public confidence inside the largest police service in the UK suggests that police culture itself has been challenged by the accountability that lies at the heart of trust and trustworthiness. We have been asked by the editors of this issue to share with readers how we have come to create a contribution to understanding what drives confidence in policing, which is now a routine part of its performance management.
A Myhill and B Bradford, 'Can police enhance public confidence by improving quality of service? Results from two surveys in England and Wales' (2012) 22 Policing and Society [...]
Public opinions of the police have been a fixture at the top of the policy agenda in England and Wales in recent years, with successive governments stating they wish to see improvements in ï¿½trust and confidenceï¿½. But significant doubts remain as to how this might be done, and even if it is possible for police to enhance public confidence in any straightforward way. Indeed, it often seems that it is much easier for police to damage public opinion than to improve it. This paper reports findings from two surveys on contact between the public and the police conducted in England and Wales. First, panel data are used to examine the issue of ï¿½asymmetryï¿½ in the relationship between satisfaction with police contacts and wider public confidence in the police. Negative pre-existing opinions of the police are found to be predictive of negatively received contact, while positive views do not predict well-received contact. Yet, single contacts, both negative and positive, are predictive of subsequent confidence in the police. Second, British Crime Survey data are used to investigate what ï¿½drivesï¿½ satisfaction among crime victims. Personal treatment appears to be valued over criminal justice outcomes, providing support for process-based policing models. It appears that fears about an absolute asymmetry in the effect of contact on confidence may be overstated, and that improving the way officers handle encounters might lead to enhanced trust and confidence.
B Bradford, 'Policing and social identity: procedural justice, inclusion and cooperation between police and public' (2012) Policing and Society (forthcoming) [...]
Accounts of the social meaning of policing and of the relationship between police and citizen converge on the idea that police behaviour carries important identity-relevant information. Opinions of and ideas about the police are implicated in the formation of social identities that relate to the social groups it represents – nation, state and community. Procedural justice theory suggests that judgements about the fairness of the police will be the most important factor in such processes. Fairness promotes a sense of inclusion and value, while unfairness communicates denigration and exclusion. Furthermore, positive social identities in relation to the police should on this account promote cooperation with it. This article presents an empirical test of these ideas in the context of the British policing. Data from a survey of young Londoners are used to show that perceptions of police fairness are indeed associated with social identity, and in turn social identity can be linked to cooperation. Yet these relationships were much stronger among those with multiple national identities. Police behaviour appeared more identity relevant for people who felt that they were citizens of a non-UK country, but for those who identified only as British there was a weaker link between procedural fairness and social identity, and here legitimacy judgements were the main ‘drivers’ of cooperation. Theoretical and policy implications are discussed.
J Jackson and others, 'Why do People Comply with the Law?: Legitimacy and the Influence of Legal Institutions' (2012) 52 British Journal of Criminology [...]
This paper extends Tyler’s procedural justice model of public compliance with the law. Analysing data from a national probability sample of adults in England and Wales, we present a new conceptualization of legitimacy based on not just the recognition of power, but also the justification of power. We find that people accept the police’s right to dictate appropriate behaviour not only when they feel a duty to obey officers, but also when they believe that the institution acts according to a shared moral purpose with citizens. Highlighting a number of different routes by which institutions can influence citizen behaviour, our broader normative model provides a better framework for explaining why people are willing to comply with the law.
B Bradford, 'Convergence not divergence? Trends and trajectories in public contact and confidence in the police' (2011) 51 The British Journal of Criminology 179 [...]
Public trust and confidence are vital to the police function. There has been much comment and debate about the apparent decline in confidence in the British police since the 1950s, most frequently evidenced by data from the British Crime Survey (BCS). Yet, there has been relatively little in-depth interrogation of the data at the heart of the discussion. Pooling data from 11 sweeps of the BCS (1984 to 2005/06), this paper shows a homogenization over time in trends in trust and confidence and experiences of encounters with the police. This pattern is found across both age and ethnicity, and can also be identified in other variables. The story that emerges therefore differs from analyses that emphasize the increasingly diffuse and variable nature of public experiences of the police.
J Jackson and others, 'Developing European indicators of trust in justice ' (2011) 8 European Journal of Criminology [...]
Like other modern-day democracies, Belgium has in the last quarter century introduced many changes in its system for justice administration, by undertaking judicial reforms and commissioning empirical research on public confidence. Following long years of fierce criticism of the police and the criminal justice system since the late 1980s, the turn of the century witnessed three quantitative surveys (the Justice Barometers) in 2002, 2007 and 2010. These were complemented by several qualitative studies in specific districts or with specific groups. Although many variables appear to exert some influence on public confidence, the one that emerges time and again is the degree of contact with the justice system and the ensuing negative perceptions that result from it. This contribution describes the most salient findings of this decade of public opinion research on the criminal justice system in Belgium and reflects on the implications for judicial policy-making.
A Myhill and others, 'It Depends What You Mean by Confident: Operationalizing Measures of Public Confidence and the Role of Performance Indicators' (2011) 5 Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice 114 [...]
Centralized performance frameworks for the police in England and Wales have been the subject of considerable debate. Evidence from both the British Crime Survey and local force surveys shows that setting performance targets for public confidence in the police based on single indicator survey measures can have conceptual and practical difficulties. Specifically, such measures can misrepresent the views of some respondents and might underestimate public support for the police. We argue in favour of local public attitudes surveys reconfigured to measure aspects of procedural fairness, police legitimacy, and public intentions to co-operate.
B Bradford, 'Voice neutrality and respect: Use of Victim Support services procedural fairness and confidence in the Criminal Justice System' (2011) Criminology and Criminal Justice [...]
Public confidence in the criminal justice system (CJS) is a topic of perennial concern across the United Kingdom, particularly in light of the relatively low levels of confidence reported in the British Crime Survey (BCS) and elsewhere. Recent work on policing has stressed that the experience of procedural fairness is an important influence on â€˜user-satisfactionâ€™, trust and legitimacy. Yet it is unclear whether this emphasis on fairness applies to the CJS as a whole, which many might see as primarily there to manage â€” and punish â€” offenders as efficiently as possible. This article reports on analysis of the BCS that suggests contact with Victim Support is linked to more favourable views of the fairness of the CJS and to higher levels of confidence in its effectiveness. By providing victims with voice and a sense that someone is listening to and taking their concerns seriously, contact with VS seems to be linked to more favourable overall assessments of the CJS. A space is therefore opened up for approaches to enhancing public confidence that do not rely on ever more punitive policies, or on the arguably Sisyphean task of convincing the public that extant policies are punitive enough.
K Hohl, B Bradford and EA Stanko, 'Influencing trust and confidence in the London Metropolitan Police: results from an experiment testing the effect of leaflet-drops on public opinion' (2010) 50 The British Journal of Criminology 491 [...]
Enhancing trust and confidence has moved to the centre of policing policy in England and Wales. The association between direct encounters with police officers and confidence in the police is well-established. But is it possible for the police to increase confidence among the general population including those people who do not routinely come into direct contact with police officers? This paper presents the findings from a quasi-randomised experiment conducted on population representative samples in seven London wards that assessed the impact of a leaflet drop on public perceptions of policing. The results provide strong evidence of an improvement in overall confidence, and in perceptions of policeâ€“community engagement, specifically. The leaflets also appear to have had a buffering effect against declines in public assessments of police effectiveness. The findings support the idea that public trust and confidence can be enhanced by direct police communication of this type.
J Jackson and others, 'Legitimacy and procedural justice in prisons' (2010) 191 Prison Service Journal 4
J Jackson and B Bradford, 'Measuring public confidence in the police: Is the PSA23 target fit for purpose?' (2010) 4 Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice 241
M Hough and others, 'Procedural justice trust and institutional legitimacy' (2010) 4 Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice 203
EA Stanko and B Bradford, 'Beyond measuring "how good a job" police are doing: the MPS model of confidence in policing' (2009) 3 Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice 332
B Bradford, J Jackson and EA Stanko, 'Contact and confidence: Revisiting the impact of public encounters with the police' (2009) 19 Policing and Society 20
J Jackson and B Bradford, 'Crime, policing and the moral order: On the expressive nature of public confidence in policing' (2009) 60 The British Journal of Sociology 493
J Jackson, B Bradford, K Hohl and S Farrall, 'Does the fear of crime erode public confidence in policing?' (2009) 3 Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice 100
B Bradford, EA Stanko and J Jackson, 'Public encounters with the police: On the use of public opinion surveys to improve contact and confidence' (2009) 3 Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice 139
J Jackson, B Bradford, EA Stanko and K Hohl, Just Authority? Trust in the Police in England and Wales (Routledge 2012)
B Bradford, J Jackson and M Hough, 'Police futures and legitimacy: Redefining ‘good policing’' in J Brown (ed), The Future of Policing (Routledge 2013) (forthcoming)
TR Tyler, J Jackson and B Bradford, 'Psychology of procedural justice and cooperation' in Gerben Bruinsma and David Weisburd (eds), Encyclopedia of criminology and criminal justice (Springer 2013) (forthcoming)
M Hough, J Jackson and B Bradford, 'The governance of criminal justice, legitimacy and trust' in Sophie Body-Gendrot, Mike Hough, Klara Kerezsi, Rene Levy and Sonja Snacken (eds), The Routledge handbook of European criminology (Routledge 2013) (forthcoming)
J Jackson, B Bradford, M Hough and KH Murray, 'Compliance with the law and policing by consent: notes on police and legal legitimacy' in Adam Crawford and Anthea Hucklesby (eds), Legitimacy and compliance in criminal justice ( 2012)
Research: Trust and confidence in the police and criminal justice system; procedural justice; legitimacy; cross-national comparisons.
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