‘What we don’t know, we fear’

How a procedural justice framework could enhance the quality of encounters between the police and the mentally ill

auteurs Ciska Wittouck
  Tom Vander Beken
  Kurt Audenaert
tijdschrift Cahiers Politiestudies (ISSN: 1784-5300)
jaargang Jaargang 2016
aflevering 40. Politie en gezondheidszorg
onderdeel Artikelen
publicatie datum 15 september 2016
taal English
pagina 73

Encounters between police officers and mentally ill persons are by both parties often experienced as problematic: police officers often lack confidence in dealing with the mentally ill and outcomes
of these encounters can be detrimental for mentally ill persons. In this contribution the value of applying a procedural justice approach to improve these encounters, which is amongst others aimed by community-oriented policing, is discussed through a literature study. Procedural justice refers to the major importance people attach to the process and procedures of a social interaction (how) next to the outcome of a social interaction (what), and experiencing procedural justice influences perceptions of social identity and legitimacy. Internationally, empirical research studies focusing on interactions between police officers and mentally ill persons and on the experience of procedural justice in mentally ill persons are however scarce, as opposed to studies on the experience of police procedural justice in the general population. In Belgium studies of the former kind are virtually non-existent, while a few studies of the latter kind have been conducted. Therefore, mainly international literature is used to highlight the importance and relevance of procedural justice for some pillars of community-oriented policing with the mentally ill.