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What Price Fairness When Security is at Stake? Police Legitimacy in South Africa

Bradford, B., Huq A., Jackson, J. and Roberts, B. (2013). ‘What Price Fairness When Security is at Stake? Police Legitimacy in South Africa’, Regulation and Governance, doi: 10.1111/rego.12012

21 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2012 Last revised: 11 Mar 2013

Ben Bradford

University of Oxford - Centre for Criminology

Aziz Z. Huq

University of Chicago - Law School

Jonathan Jackson

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Methodology

Benjamin J. Roberts

Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa (HSRC)

Date Written: August 20, 2012

Abstract

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 judgements about other aspects of its behaviour – notably, its 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 where 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 emphasise 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 judgements play a key role, but also that South Africans place greater emphasis on police effectiveness (and concerns about crime). We also find that police legitimacy is associated with citizens’ judgements about the wider success and trustworthiness of the state. This opens up new directions for legitimacy research in the context of policing and criminal justice.

Keywords: public confidence, trust, legitimacy, cooperation, contact with the police

JEL Classification: K40

Suggested Citation

Bradford, Ben and Huq, Aziz Z. and Jackson, Jonathan and Roberts, Benjamin J., What Price Fairness When Security is at Stake? Police Legitimacy in South Africa (August 20, 2012). Bradford, B., Huq A., Jackson, J. and Roberts, B. (2013). ‘What Price Fairness When Security is at Stake? Police Legitimacy in South Africa’, Regulation and Governance, doi: 10.1111/rego.12012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2132609 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2132609

Ben Bradford (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Centre for Criminology ( email )

Manor Road Building
Manor Road
Oxford, OX1 3UQ
United Kingdom

Aziz Z. Huq

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Jonathan Jackson

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Methodology ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom
+0044-207-955-7652 (Phone)

Benjamin J. Roberts

Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa (HSRC) ( email )

South Africa

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