Trust in public and private policing: Young people's encounters with the police and private security guards

Tutkimustuotos: OpinnäyteVäitöskirjaArtikkelikokoelma


While general trust in the police is high in Finland, young people's encounters with the police can be problematic. The starting point for this research was the observation that young people are experiencing higher levels of police control despite the lack of a corresponding rise in youth delinquency. Furthermore, the rapid rise of private security in many Western countries has changed the landscape of social control. This study provides new information about encounters between young people, the police and private security guards. It focused on social control directed at youth delinquency, alcohol use and the free time activities of young people. The study used mixed methods, drawing on a Finnish self-report delinquency survey (N=5 826), and on nine focus group interviews with 31 young people. The findings indicated that police and security guard interventions were highly prevalent among minors: 40 percent had experienced such interventions. Police and security guard interventions disproportionately targeted young people from lower social classes, and those living in non-nuclear families and cities, even when differences in delinquency were taken into account. Furthermore, delinquency and heavy drinking increased the likelihood of interventions. The study also examined how young people perceived encounters with policing agents. Fair and respectful treatment of young people was the key to good relations. Young people perceived encounters as fair when the interactions were friendly, peaceful and predictable. Furthermore, emotional factors, such as the ability of policing agents to be empathetic and control their own negative emotions, enforced trust. Aggressive and impolite treatment, on the other hand, challenged trust. The study also showed that young people have more trust and confidence in the police than in private security guards. Young people trusted the police more because they considered them better educated and their actions more legitimate and respectful. Security guards were perceived as often exceeding their legal rights and acting unfairly. The study emphasizes that within the context of this new form of public-private social control there is a need to understand the positive and negative effects of policing in a broad sense. Negatively experienced encounters can challenge young people's sense of social belonging and their trust in other people. Nevertheless, the study also shows that positive encounters can improve the relations and increase trust between young people and policing agents.
Painoksen ISBN978-951-51-0637-7
Sähköinen ISBN978-951-51-0638-4
TilaJulkaistu - 3 maalisk. 2017
OKM-julkaisutyyppiG5 Tohtorinväitöskirja (artikkeli)


  • 5141 Sosiologia

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