Assessing the determinants of public confidence in the police: A case study of a post-conflict community in Northern Ireland

Graham Ellison*, Nathan W. Pino, Peter Shirlow

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Drawing upon original survey research this article seeks to identify the generative processes that influence perceptions of the police in the context of an inner-city neighbourhood in Northern Ireland that has been affected by increases in crime and disorder in the aftermath of the peace process. Conceptually we draw upon recent research from England and Wales that outlines confidence in the police in terms of instrumental and expressive dimensions. We apply this framework and consider whether it provides a useful template for understanding the post-conflict dynamics of police-community relations in our study area. Contrary to much received wisdom our analysis suggests that instrumental concerns about crime and illegal activity are a more influential predictor of attitudes to the police than expressive concerns with disorder and anti-social behaviour. Consequently our discussion points to the variance in local and national survey data and questions the degree to which the latter can usefully inform our understanding of trends and developments in discrete micro-spaces. Our conclusion outlines the potential policy implications for state policing practice in deprived urban spaces.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)552-576
Number of pages25
JournalCriminology and Criminal Justice
Issue number5
Early online date08 Nov 2012
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013


  • public confidence, policing, crime, disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law

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