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Police bias and diminished trust in police: a role for procedural justice?

Natasha S. Madon (School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia) (Griffith Criminology Institute, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia)
Kristina Murphy (School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia) (Griffith Criminology Institute, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 5 July 2021

Issue publication date: 22 October 2021

1075

Abstract

Purpose

Since 9/11, Muslims have experienced discrimination and scrutiny from authorities. For many, this experience has damaged their trust in law enforcement and left them with the impression that they are viewed as suspect. This study seeks to better understand the relationship between Muslims' perceived police bias and trust, and how procedural justice may shape this relationship.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors collected survey data from 398 Muslims in Sydney, Australia, as part of a larger study on immigrants' views of police. Participants were surveyed on a range of topics including contact with police, global assessments of police procedural justice and how they believe police treat their cultural group.

Findings

Overall, the authors find that the extent to which people perceive police bias is associated with their level of trust in police. Greater preconceived bias is associated with lower trust in police. The authors also find that perceiving police as procedurally just is positively related to trust. Importantly, this study finds a significant interaction effect between perceptions of police bias and procedural justice on Muslims' trust in police. Specifically, for those who hold the view that police are unbiased, perceiving police as generally procedural just has a strong positive effect on trust. For those who view police as biased against Muslims, procedural justice has a weak but positive effect on trust. This interaction effect suggests that perceived bias may shape how Muslims interpret police treatment of Muslims.

Originality/value

This study is the first to explore how perceived police bias and perceptions of procedural justice predict and interact to shape Muslims' trust in police, advancing existing procedural justice policing scholarship.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Mr. Michael Pass for his research assistance. The authors would further like to thank Dr. Elise Sargeant and Dr. Molly McCarthy for their thoughtful perspective on the ideas contained in this paper.

Funding: This work was supported by the Australian Research Council under Grant No: DP170101149. Kristina Murphy was also supported by the Australian Research Council Future Fellowship Scheme under Grant No: FT180100139.

Citation

Madon, N.S. and Murphy, K. (2021), "Police bias and diminished trust in police: a role for procedural justice?", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 44 No. 6, pp. 1031-1045. https://doi.org/10.1108/PIJPSM-03-2021-0053

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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