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‘Channel shift’: Technologically mediated policing and procedural justice

Wells, Helen M.; Aston, Elizabeth V.; Bradford, Ben; O'Neill, Megan; Clayton, Estelle; Andrews, Will


Helen M. Wells

Ben Bradford

Megan O'Neill

Will Andrews


In recent years, police forces in the United Kingdom 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 the procedural justice literature still predicated on an assumption that police–public ‘contacts’ or ‘encounters’ are in-person. The effect of technologically mediating police–public contacts on ‘policing by consent’, is therefore unknown. In this article, 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, among other things, which is currently being rolled out across forces), considering ‘interactions’ between police and public where there is no physical co-presence. 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.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 9, 2022
Online Publication Date Nov 10, 2022
Publication Date 2023-03
Deposit Date Nov 17, 2022
Publicly Available Date Nov 17, 2022
Print ISSN 1461-3557
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 25
Issue 1
Pages 42-52
Keywords Policing, police, technology, visibility, contact, procedural justice, legitimacy
Public URL


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