Publication: Police and procedural justice: perceptions of young people with mental illness

Associate Professor Angela Higginson has published an article in the Q1 journal, Policing and Society with former QUT PhD student Dr Matthew Morgan (now at ACU).     The article is titled, “Police and procedural justice:  perceptions of young people with mental illness.”  


Young people with mental illness are significantly more likely to encounter the police than their counterparts who do not identify as having a mental illness. Yet little is known regarding how this cohort perceives the police and whether they believe the police to be a fair, trustworthy, and legitimate service. Research suggests that young people and other vulnerable groups (such as adults with mental illness) value procedural justice policing as a technique for nurturing fair and trustworthy policing, which in turn, increases satisfaction with police interactions and willingness to cooperate with police. This study uses procedural justice as a lens for analysing the perceptions of young people with mental illnesses regarding the police. Drawing upon survey data from a sample of 3147 Australian participants aged between 14 and 25 years old – a third of which identified as having a mental health condition – results demonstrate that young people with a mental illness offered significantly lower perceptions of the police in relation to procedural justice. Young people identifying as not heterosexual or as trans* or gender diverse, and those who report that they are not seen as Australian, also offered significantly lower perceptions of police procedural justice. A theoretical explanation is offered for why these marginalised young groups perceive the police to be procedurally unjust. Tactics for how the police may nurture more trusting and supporting relationships with young people in general are also discussed.

The paper draws on wave 1 of Angela’s DECRA-funded Australian Youth Safety Survey to look at how young people with mental illness perceive police.  Read more about Angela’s research here. 

Matthew’s PhD was on police responses to persons with mental illness in crisis.  This research is a qualitative study of police policy, training, and practice regarding the provision of ‘fair and just’ police responses to persons with mental illness in crisis (PWMI). This research suggests that police policy guidelines and training practices may not appropriately equip police to recognise, understand, and manage PWMI in a fair and procedurally just manner. In addition, police culture within the organisation, and the organisation’s emphasis on paramilitary ideals is argued to limit and challenge procedurally just policing of PWMI in crisis.



Comments are closed.