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Policing the streets: legal compliance among people experiencing homelessness

Kyprianides, Arabella, Jackson, Jonathan and Stott, Clifford (2021) Policing the streets: legal compliance among people experiencing homelessness. Law and Human Behavior. ISSN 0147-7307 (In Press)

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Objective: Drawing on work into the dynamics of authority-subordinate relationships, we examined whether police procedural justice, legitimacy and deterrence predict compliance with the law among people experiencing homelessness. Hypotheses: We hypothesized that people living on the streets of London will be less attuned to the relational and value-relevant aspects of police activity, i.e. that the well-established procedural justice–legitimacy–compliance pathway will not work for this highly marginalized group. We also predicted that motivations to engage in criminal behavior will vary significantly according to the nature of the behavior concerned (minor, street population specific, and serious crime). Method: A survey that included measures of procedural justice, police legitimacy, deterrence, risk of sanction, morality and compliance was completed by 200 people experiencing homelessness on the streets of an inner London borough (87% male, 49% aged between 45-64, 37% white British). Results: Procedural fairness and perceptions of police legitimacy did not explain variation in any of the three types of compliance (i.e. statistically significant effects were not detected). Police effectiveness positively predicted compliance via perceived risk of sanction, but only for offences that can be occasionally be important for survival on the streets, e.g. begging. Morality was associated with all three types of compliance behaviors, with the more wrong behaviors were perceived to be, the greater the compliance with those behaviors. Conclusions: The lack of relevance of relational connections to legal authority may be down to marginalization, alienation and the need to survive. More research is needed into the sorts of marginalized communities for whom structural factors may reduce normative group connections.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Methodology
Date Deposited: 23 Feb 2021 10:15
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2021 00:14

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