Procedural justice training for police recruits: results of a randomized controlled trial

Emma Antrobus*, Ian Thompson, Barak Ariel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Objectives: Procedural justice training for police officers is designed to improve officers’ interactions with the public. Aside from the fact that it is a given that citizens deserve to be treated in a fair manner by authorities such as the police, it is expected, based on the literature, that if the police act in a procedurally just manner they will be seen as more legitimate and citizens will subsequently be more willing to cooperate or comply with them. The present study was designed to evaluate the impact of a specifically designed procedural justice knowledge and skills-based training program on newly recruited police officers’ attitudes and interactions with the public. Methods: Fifty-six police recruits were matched into pairs with one officer from each pair randomly selected to participate in a short procedural justice training program at the end of their recruit training period. In addition to being surveyed about procedural justice-related attitudes, recruits’ interactions with the public as newly inducted first year police officers were evaluated in real-time by their field training mentors in relation to procedurally just behaviors. Results: Results suggest some limited positive effects of the training on both officer attitudes and actual on-the-job behavior. Mentors’ ratings of procedurally just behaviors in public interactions were generally higher for experimental than control recruits. Furthermore, recruits’ perceptions of the effectiveness of procedural justice were increased immediately after the training, though not their perceived use of these skills. However, these effects were not always statistically significant. Conclusions: This study adds to the evidence surrounding procedural justice training of police officers, indicating that such training programs are feasible and have the potential to improve officers’ interactions with members of the public.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)29-53
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Experimental Criminology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 15 Mar 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature.


  • Police
  • Procedural justice
  • Randomized controlled trial
  • Recruit training


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