TRACKING PROCEDURAL JUSTICE IN STOP AND SEARCH ENCOUNTERS: CODING EVIDENCE FROM BODY-WORN VIDEO CAMERAS
Research Question: To what extent do police stop and search practices, as captured on officers’ body-worn video cameras, adhere to key dimensions of procedural justice theory, and do levels of adherence vary across the dimensions of 1) citizen participation and voice, 2) neutrality and explanation, 3) respect and dignity, and 4) trustworthy motives? Data: A random sample of 100 recorded stop-and-search encounters was selected from all 601 encounters recorded by Greater Manchester Police between 1st January and 31st August 2017, with an average duration of 12 minutes of combined video and audio with transcripts. Methods: These records were coded entirely by the first author for the four main dimensions of procedural justice and details about the actors/participants involved. The dimensions were combined into an overall index score of procedural justice for each encounter. Findings: Most stop-and-searches encounters were characterised by a strong element of police allowing citizens to express voice (their feelings), followed by police demonstrating respect and offering explanation. The lowest scores were given to “conveying trustworthy motives”. A standardised metric of each element into a measure of 0-100 coded mean scores for participation/voice = 94, explanation/neutrality = 65, respect = 71 and trustworthy motives = 47. In this latter category, not one officer linked the purpose of the stop and search to the wider organisational purpose of protecting society and helping to keep people safe. Conclusions: This evidence suggests the potential value of an ongoing tracking measure for police legitimacy, which could be used as a supervisory and human development tool for operational officers, comparing individuals, units, areas, and trends over time in objectively coded features of police behaviour towards citizens.
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