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Procedural justice in victim-police interactions: A mixed methods study

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posted on 18.05.2017, 02:57 authored by Elliott, Irina
ABSTRACT Procedural justice emphasises the fairness of methods used to achieve outcomes. Using both quantitative and qualitative methods, this study tested a relational model of authority (Tyler & Lind, 1992) in victim-police interactions and examined the impact of perceptions of procedural justice on victims’ wellbeing. In-depth interviews were conducted with 110 people (58 females and 52 males, with ages ranging from 18 to 86 years; M = 39.75, SD = 13.7) who had reported a crime (personal or property) to the police during the previous year. Quantitative findings supported the predictions that higher perceived procedural justice would be associated with higher perceived legitimacy (obligation to obey the law), outcome fairness, and satisfaction with the contact. Procedural justice was a stronger predictor of outcome fairness and satisfaction than the realisation of a desired outcome, and a stronger predictor of legitimacy than criminal history. Qualitative findings supported these results. Moreover, higher procedural justice but not a desired outcome predicted the likelihood that victims would feel empowered by the interaction and was associated with greater well-being. Validation of victimisation experiences by the police was vitally important to victims of crime as it was seen as an indication of their value in and a broader validation from the wider community. The results provide empirical support for a group value model of procedural justice (Lind & Tyler, 1988) in that fair treatment by the police is perceived by individuals as an indication of their value and status in society. The results suggest the primary impact of procedural justice over a desired outcome on victims’ sense of empowerment and well-being and perceived outcome fairness and satisfaction in victim-police interactions. It appears that procedural justice has the potential for helping to motivate individuals with criminal history to obey the law. Implications for evaluation of police performance and policy development are discussed.


Principal supervisor

Stuart Thomas

Additional supervisor 1

James Ogloff

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Psychology and Psychiatry

Additional Institution or Organisation

School of Psychology and Psychiatry

Campus location



Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences