Data and variables

We use data from ESS Round 5, for n=52,458 respondents from 27 countries. Each of the five constructs was measured with three items, as follows (where D12 etc. are the numbers of the questions in the ESS questionnaire):

Table 1.1. Theoretical constructs and their associated ESS question numbers
Trust in police effectiveness Trust in police procedural fairness Obligation to obey the police Moral alignment with the police Willingness to co-operate with the criminal justice system
D12-D14 D15-D17 D18-D20 D21-D23 D40-D42

Below we give the wording of each item, and their response options. For each item, missing value responses ("Don"t know", "Refusal", "No Answer") and other hidden response options ("Violent crimes never occur near to where I live" for D14 and "No one ever asks the police to explain their decisions and actions" for D17) are treated as missing. "Label" shows the name of the variable in the ESS dataset.

For Effectiveness:

Question Label Response Scale
D12 Based on what you have heard or your own experience how successful do you think the police are at preventing crimes in [country] where violence is used or threatened? plcpvcr 0 Extremely unsuccessful
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10 Extremely successful
D13 How successful do you think the police are at catching people who commit house burglaries in [country]? plccbrg
D14 If a violent crime were to occur near to where you live and the police were called, how slowly or quickly do you think they would arrive at the scene? plcarcr
0 Extremely slowly
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10 Extremely quickly

For Procedural fairness:

Question Label Response Scale
D15 Based on what you have heard or your own experience how often would you say the police generally treat people in [country] with respect? plcrspc 1 Not at all often

2 Not very often

3 Often

4 Very often
D16 About how often would you say that the police make fair, impartial decisions in the cases they deal with? plcfrdc
D17 When dealing with people in [country], how often would you say the police generally explain their decisions and actions when asked to do so? plcexdc

For Obligation to obey:

Question
To what extent is it your duty to…
Label Response Scale
D18 …back the decisions made by the police even when you disagree with them? bplcdc 0 Not at all my duty
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10 Completely my duty
D19 …do what the police tell you even if you don’t understand or agree with the reasons? doplcsy
D20 …do what the police tell you to do, even if you don’t like how they treat you? dpcstrb

For Moral alignment:

Question Label Response Scale
D21 The police generally have the same sense of right and wrong as I do. plcrgwr 1 Disagree strongly

2 Disagree

3 Neither agree nor disagree

4 Agree

5 Agree strongly
D22 The police stand up for values that are important to people like me. plcipvl
D23 I generally support how the police usually act. gsupplc

Note: In the original ESS dataset, the response options are coded in a reverse order, from 1=Agree strongly to 5=Disagree strongly. The coding has been reversed in our analyses to make interpretation more convenient. Instructions for how this is done in Stata and R are given in the next section.

For Co-operation:

Question Label Response Scale
D40 Imagine that you were out and saw someone push a man to the ground and steal his wallet. How likely would you be to call the police? caplcst 1 Not at all likely / willing

2 Not very likely / willing

3 Likely / willing

4 Very likely / willing
D41 How willing would you be to identify the person who had done it? widprsn
D42 And how willing would you be to give evidence in court against the accused? wevdct

The items are coded in such a way (after reversing the original codes for D21-D23) that in each case higher-numbered response options indicate more positive attitudes toward the police and criminal justice system, that is higher levels of trust in police effectiveness and procedural fairness, higher levels of felt obligation to obey and moral alignment with the police, and higher levels of willingness to co-operate with the criminal justice system.

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