Factors that Determine the Cooperation between the Public and the Police Force

Cooperation between the Public and the Police Force

Statement of purpose

This research study aims to investigate the reason communities choose to or not to cooperate with the police force as an arm of criminal justice. The research shall seek to establish the social and legal, possible factors that affect the decisions made by the public, and the elements that shape their attitude towards the police force. The study will further analyze how the relationship between the police and members of the societies has fared over time and the general perception of the police by the public. This shall be accomplished through review and examination of related literature and content, with a close analysis of recent events that have highlighted the status of the matter at hand.

Research Question

The focus questions of the research study will revolve around the following issues;

  • What are the underlying factors behind the relationship between the public and the police force?
  • What are the key elements that influence an individual to cooperate with the police in the event of a crime in the society?
  • Are there elements in the police force that suggest discrimination provoking an attitude towards them?
  • What are the overall implications of working or not working with the police force?

Literature Review

Recent past has seen legal institutions come under public scrutiny following their relationship with members of the society. Some scholars have put across a range of literature that sheds some light on the issue. Kristina Murphy and Adrian Cherney consider the factors that may affect the willingness of the public to cooperate with law enforcers (2012). They identify procedural justice as one of the factors. The approach used in the event of working with a legal institution comes with sacrifices in terms of time, preceding a life opportunity, and not so flexible schedules set by the authority that would have one apprehended if not adhered too. This would have people unwilling to cooperate. A second factor is a legal legitimacy (Murphy & Cherney, 2012). The credibility of the criminal justice has been questioned publicly about decisions made against offenders. In the same line, Lyn Hinds investigates the willingness of youths to assist police in their line of duties as based on their perception of their legitimacy (2008). Hinds establish youths would readily work with the police if their actions appear legitimate. Moreover, informal interaction with the members of the legal force increase chances of cooperation (Hinds, 2009).

While procedural justice and legitimacy shape up the willingness to cooperate with the police force, De Cremer and Tyler identify other factors in the form of trust and fairness in the legal authority as perceived by the public (2007). The authors assert that a trustworthy police force attracts chances of being assisted by the public. Trust further builds a sense of fairness in the legal system (De Cremer & Tyler, 2007). The public feels that the legal system shares a moral purpose with them, and thus working with them feels like a justified compliance with the law (Jackson, Bradford, Hough, Myhill, Quinton, & Tyler, 2012). This would then take us to the need for improved police performance. Professional execution of duties would enhance cooperation between police and the public (Murphy, Sargeant & Cherney, 2015). This would eliminate chances of brutality, discrimination, and unfairness as evidenced in such places as Fergusson Missouri (Payne & Sidner, 2015). The protests showcased the implications of indifferences between the police and the public which include deaths, destruction of property, and unrest.

Concisely, willingness to work with the police is dependent on legal legitimacy, procedural justice, sense of trust, fairness, and the overall police performance. Unprofessionalism in the police force can lead to indifferences that result in loss of lives and property.



De Cremer, D., & Tyler, T. R. (2007). The effects of trust in authority and procedural fairness on cooperation. Journal of applied psychology, 92(3):639-649.

Hinds, L. (2009). Youth, police legitimacy and informal contact. Journal of police and criminal psychology, 24:10-21.

Jackson, J., Bradford, B., Hough, M., Myhill, A., Quinton, P., & Tyler, T. R. (2012). Why do people comply with the law? Legitimacy and the influence of legal institutions. British journal of criminology.

Murphy, K., & Cherney, A. (2012). Understanding cooperation with the police in a diverse society. British Journal of Criminology, 52(1):181-201.

Murphy, K., Sargeant, E., & Cherney, A. (2015). The importance of procedural justice and police performance in shaping intentions to cooperate with the police: Does social identity matter? European Journal of Criminology, 12(6):719-738.

Payne, E., & Sidner, S. (2015). 2 people shot in Ferguson as new protests break out. Retrieved from Cnn: http://edition.cnn.com/2015/04/29/us/ferguson-missouri-protests-baltimore/

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