On Wednesday of this week I will travel to Cardiff, Wales, for this year’s European Society of Criminology conference. This year I have assembled an international panel focusing on procedural justice in policing. I am delighted to be working with Dr Seth Fallik and Dr Vaughn Crichlow from Florida Atlantic University and with Dr Philip Stenning and Dr Alistair Fildes from Griffith University, Australia.
The panel session will focus on exploring global insights into the complex array of intersecting factors that can influence the extent to which procedural justice is embedded within policing. Drawing on insights from two continents, my co-presenters and I will adopt a critical perspective on previous research in this area and provide illustrations of current practice emerging through participant observation and in-depth interviews in the United States and Australia. Issues related to the ‘Ferguson Effect’ in the USA and its perceived impact on police agencies’ awareness and promotion of procedural justice will be explored, as well as critical perspectives on previous research and the factors that may prevent officers from using procedural justice in Australia. In presenting our international insights, we aim to open up wider discussion about the implications of our findings in terms of future attempts to improve law enforcement legitimacy around the world.
In our own paper, Dr Fallik and I will present insights from ethnographic research into the policing of violent crime in the ‘post-Ferguson era’ in the USA. Several scholars have speculated that the fatal shooting of a young, black and male citizen (Michael Brown) by a white male police officer in Ferguson, Missouri created political and media backlash against law enforcement that has eroded police authority in the United States. In the paper, we will share insights from qualitative research on the perceived nature and impact of the “Ferguson Effect” on officer confidence, morale, and policing strategies. Participant observation of officer deployments in two counties within a southern American State were paired with in-depth semi-structured interviews with 20 law enforcement officials. These data suggest that the “Ferguson Effect” has prompted increased conceptual awareness of procedural justice but also contributed to a reduction in officer morale and emphasis on proactive policing strategies. During the session we will discuss the implications for these findings in terms of future police policies and practices within a procedural justice framework that contributes to crime reduction and law enforcement legitimacy.
If you are able to make it to Cardiff, I look forward to seeing you there. If not, then I hope you might get to read our work on the above issues sometime in the future. Our intention is to produce several published outputs from our work in the months and years to come.