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‘Channel Shift’: technologically-mediated policing and procedural justice

Wells, H; Aston, EV; Bradford, B; O'Neill, M; Clayton, E; Andrews, W

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EV Aston

B Bradford

M O'Neill

E Clayton

W Andrews


In recent years, UK police forces have introduced various technologies that alter the methods by which they interact with the public. In a parallel development, many forces have also begun to embrace the concept of procedural justice as a method through which to secure legitimacy and (in turn) public compliance and cooperation. What has not received sufficient attention, within policing or academia, is the extent to which these two trends are compatible, with procedural justice literature still predicated on an assumption that police-public ‘contacts’ or ‘encounters’ are in person. As such, the effect of technologically-mediating police/public contacts and, in turn, for ‘policing by consent’, is unknown. In this paper we focus specifically on the possible implications of the Single Online Home (SOH) (a portal through which the public can report crime, get updates on cases, give feedback, and pay fines, amongst other things, which is currently being rolled out across forces), considering ‘interactions’ between police and public where there is no physical co-presence (and which may be asynchronous in nature). Noting the unique context that is policing, we draw on the limited existing research on procedural justice encounters in technologically-mediated contexts to explore whether procedural justice theory is ‘future proof’ for a policing context increasingly reliant on such encounters. We conclude that, through empirical research, we must update our conceptual understanding of what ‘contact’ can mean, and accept that current developments may in fact be transforming relationships rather than simply facilitating existing ones.

Acceptance Date Sep 9, 2022
Publication Date Mar 1, 2023
Journal International Journal of Police Science and Management
Print ISSN 1461-3557
Publisher SAGE Publications
Pages 42-52
Publisher URL


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