The idea that public trust and police legitimacy are founded in procedural justice is well known. Judgements of the rightfulness of police authority are premised to an important degree on assessments of the extent to which officers wield their power fairly and in ways that respect individual rights. Rather less attention has been paid to some of the other predicates of legitimacy, many of which concern the location of police and policed within structures of power, authority and affect. On the one hand, what the police are, and what they represent, can be as important in shaping legitimacy as what they do. On the other hand, relationships with institutions of social and political ordering beyond the police can play a role in the judgements people form about this foundational state institution. In this seminar, I will consider the implications for public trust and police legitimacy arising from immigration, ethnic and cultural diversity, and the social stratification of London and other complex modern cities. Focussing particularly on the experience of immigrants, the discussion will explore the role of the police activity in promoting, or inhibiting, both legitimacy and a wider sense of inclusion and belonging, while also highlighting the importance of structural forces far beyond the control of officers or organization.


Ben's research focuses primarily on issues of trust and legitimacy as these apply to the police and the wider criminal justice system. International and cross-national comparisons of these issues are a growing research interest, and his work has a particular emphasis on procedural justice theory and the intersection of social-psychological and sociological explanatory paradigms. He has collaborated with the London Metropolitan Police, the College of Policing and other agencies on research projects concerned with improving police understanding of public opinions and priorities.

Tea and coffee will be available from 2:30pm.