Policing Social Distancing: Gaining and Maintaining Compliance in the Age of Coronavirus

By Jul.13, 2020

Dr Sara Grace, Lecturer in Criminology, and expert in summary justice, police discretion, procedural fairness and neighbourhood policing, has published a groundbreaking article on policing social distancing in the high-impact international research journal Policing.

Drawing on motivational posturing theory (MPT) and procedural justice theory (PJT), Dr Grace’s work makes recommendations for how best to secure compliance with social distancing regulations. Applying both theories to mostly observational data from a study on the use and impact of penalty notices for disorder, the article explores the influences on cooperation during police–citizen encounters.

Whilst focusing on the English data/regulations, as both MPT and PJT have been tested internationally, the conclusions have relevance beyond these shores. Dr Grace proposes a sixth posture—compulsion, a form of resistant compliance—to the five set out by MPT. Focusing attention not just on whether compliance is achieved but also how recognizes the risk to future legitimacy posed by only achieving compliance through coercion or the threat of coercion.

Crucially, lessons from Dr Sara Grace’s research are applied to policing social distancing, with regards to securing compliance during interactions, self-regulation and enforcement action, and how to preserve police legitimacy.

Read Dr Sara Grace’s work on ‘policing the coronavrius lockdown’ here and here.

More information on the British Society of Criminology’s Policing Network, which connects policing researchers in the UK and beyond can be found here.

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