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Measuring police attitudes toward discretion

Wortley, RK; (2003) Measuring police attitudes toward discretion. CRIM JUSTICE BEHAV , 30 (5) 538 - 558. 10.1177/0093854803254805. Green open access


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This article describes the construction of two scales to measure police attitudes toward the selective enforcement of the law. The Service-Legalistic scale measures police discretion along a flexible-inflexible continuum. Service-oriented police advocate the use of discretion to help solve social problems; legalistic police oppose discretion because it interferes with their duty to enforce the law equitably. The Watchman scale examines the use of discretion to maintain control. Watchman-oriented police simultaneously ignore minor offenses and call for greater powers to deal with serious crime. Service-related discretion was found to negatively correlate with authoritarianism and the belief that crime is caused by the individual dispositions of offenders; watchman-related discretion positively correlated with authoritarianism, ethnocentrism, and a belief in individual crime causation.

Type: Article
Title: Measuring police attitudes toward discretion
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/0093854803254805
Language: English
Keywords: police discretion, police decision making, police personality, authoritarianism, ethnocentrism, JUROR BIAS, AUTHORITARIANISM, PERSONALITY, DOGMATISM, IDEOLOGY, OFFICERS, SCALE
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1301711
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