The dynamics of Police legitimacy among young people

Date published: 01 December 2014


  • Author: Lee Devaney, Sam Pehrson, Dominic Bryan and Danielle Blaylock
  • Publication Date: December 2014


Surveys conducted in Northern Ireland generally find that young people with overtly negative views of the police are a minority, albeit a substantial one (Byrne, Conway, & Ostermeyer, 2005; Hamilton, Radford, & Jarman, 2003). One of the most comprehensive studies of young people’s experiences and perceptions of the police in Northern Ireland was conducted by Hamilton, Radford and Jarman (2003). More respondents in their sample of 16-24 year olds agreed than disagreed that the police were professional, helpful and there to protect them. However this still left around one quarter of young people who were very dissatisfied with the police. Although Hamilton et al.’s sample was not a random sample, so such frequencies should be treated with caution, their general findings are largely replicated by the 2007 Young Persons Behaviour and Attitudes Survey (YPBAS), which takes a random sample of schools in Northern Ireland, and a random sample of classes within those schools. The YPBAS found that while 48 percent were either satisfied or very satisfied with ‘the way police in Northern Ireland do their job’, 24 percent were either not very or not at all satisfied.

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