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Visibly better? Testing the effect of ethnic appearance on citizen perceptions of the police

Davies, T; Bradford, B; Yesberg, J; Posch, K; (2021) Visibly better? Testing the effect of ethnic appearance on citizen perceptions of the police. Policing and Society: an international journal of research and policy 10.1080/10439463.2020.1853124. (In press).

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Abstract

Ethnic minority officers continue to be underrepresented across UK police forces. Further, some ethnic minority groups consistently report lower levels of confidence in police compared to their White British counterparts. Although there is consensus that a more ethnically representative police service is a good idea, there is limited evidence in the UK on how the public perceives officers of different ethnic appearance, and how this relates to trust, confidence and legitimacy. This paper presents findings from an online experiment (n = 260) exploring how ethnic appearance affects perceptions of police. Our findings offer rare empirical support for a more ethnically representative police force. First, across respondents, we found that Black officers were perceived significantly more favourably than White or Asian officers. Second, we found that Black respondents had more negative responses to White officers, yet there was little evidence that Black officers elicited more negative reactions from White or Asian respondents. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of the findings.

Type: Article
Title: Visibly better? Testing the effect of ethnic appearance on citizen perceptions of the police
DOI: 10.1080/10439463.2020.1853124
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1080/10439463.2020.1853124
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Policing, ethnic representation, police diversity,trust
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Security and Crime Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10114913
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