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The Global Social Movement for Evidence-Based Policing: Reducing Violence by Police Self-Legitimation

Across the globe, high rates of violence appear to be correlated with low levels of police legitimacy. The explanation of this correlation may be elusive, but its implications are clear. If police and their societies can improve police legitimacy, they may be far more capable of reducing violence. Exactly how societies with high violence can achieve more police legitimacy is thus a central question for reducing global violence. One answer may be a global social movement that increases the self-legitimacy of police officers by shaping their practices on the basis of violence prevention research. Since its founding at Cambridge in 2010, the Society of Evidence-Based Policing has grown to almost 2,000 members world- wide, with police officers from countries as diverse as Argentina and Australia registered as members. The aims of the Society are scientific and professional, but their inspiration is highly moral: a quest for self-legitimation of the police based on their effectiveness in preventing harm to fellow citizens. Seen this way, evidence-based policing is thus both an end in itself, and a means to the self-legitimation of the police institution—a step that may be essential to increasing police legitimacy in high-violence societies. The best way governments can support this social movement is to make policing a middle-class profession, with higher salaries, higher educational requirements, and a global sharing of knowledge, all modelled on the medical profession.


Download the Policy Idea Papers of the Plenary Lectures