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H800 - Paul's Design Narative - It’s a Fair Cop

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Paul Bailey
26 March 2013

It’s a Fair Cop (Procedural and Organisational Justice)


I was commissioned to design some training to embed the principals of Procedural and Organisational Justice into my organisation. We piloted a course yesterday with various roles and ranks, although the breadth of the roles of the target audience will ultimately be a very wide: both operational police officers and support staff. 


The pilot took place in a large conference room.


The objectives were:

  1. Explain the concept of procedural justice
  2. Describe how public trust in the police leads to compliance and cooperation
  3. Describe the criteria that are present in a fair procedure
  4. Outline how contact with the public impacts on trust in police fairness
  5. Explain how procedural justice links to the Founding Principles of Policing and the      National Decision Model
  6. Discuss the potential operational benefits from adopting procedural justice principles     
  7. Discuss the behaviours that are likely to lead to perceptions of police fairness
  8. Evaluate given scenarios and identify how they can operationalise the theory of      procedural justice

 A pilot group will be trained first (one county), and the measure of success will be identified through customer surveys / monitoring numbers of complaints compared to other counties who have not had the training, and if successful the training will be rolled out forcewide. 


Course title – It’s a Fair Cop (Procedural and Organisational Justice)

Duration: approximately 5 hours + breaks

Introduction (30 minutes)

Delegates will be shown a video montage of sporting referees/umpires, in particular involved in difficult or potentially controversial decisions, together with relevant news clippings. This is deliberately a ‘non-policing’ scenario.  After viewing the montage delegates will break into groups to discuss and answer:

  • What behaviour does a referee/umpire need to demonstrate in order to achieve respect?
  • What criteria should a referee/umpire use in order to make a fair decision?
  • What are the risks to the referee of getting their behaviour or decision-making wrong?
  • Are there any risks (if so what are they) to the sport or society as a whole in getting their behaviour or decision-making wrong?

The delegates will feedback in plenary and the trainer will facilitate the discussion.

Procedural Justice       (60 minutes)

A didactic input introducing procedural justice with a strong emphasis on discussion and encouragement for the delegates to relate the principles to their day-to-day work. To include:

  • The concept of Procedural Justice
  • How PJ links to the founding principles of policing and National Decision Model
  • How contact with the public impacts on police fairness
  • How public trust in the police leads to compliance or co-operation

 Effective Communications Skills Refresher (60 minutes)

An interactive session to give participants a range of tools they can use in different situations.  It would build on but be distinct from what was covered in Serving with Pride and Confidence Module 1.  Areas it would cover would include:

  • Empathy      and building rapport
  • Saying      no positively
  • Choice      of words and phrases
  • Stereotyping

 Scenarios (120 minutes)

Delegates will view and evaluate four separate scenarios delivered through role play delivered by trainers to include identifying what behaviours are present or missing from the scenario that will affect the perception of police fairness. 

 The Scenarios:

  •   Victim focussed   scenario -

A   burglary scenario where there is no likelihood of identifying or charging an   offender

  •   Offender   focussed scenario -

An   interview scenario where the interviewee is a persistent offender

  •   Stop and search   scenario -

Where   it is not clear/known if the person stopped is an offender or not

  •   Officer   focussed scenario -

A   person approaching a police officer on a cordon or otherwise controlling   access and being denied access


What’s in it for me? (15 minutes)

Trainer facilitated discussion to identify the operational benefits from adopting PJ principles.

 The wrap (15 minutes)

Course closure by an Inspector with emphasis on how PJ principles can be used in practise


The didactic session was very long. Students disengaged

All of the other issues which arose were during the scenarios.

One student questioned ‘cause and lawfulness’ of the scenario when a person was ‘stopped checked’ – this wasn’t what the scenario was about, but because we didn’t get the process right, that’s what the student focused on: this became a distraction from the objective.

One student didn’t understand the objective of the scenarios: were they deliberately ‘wrong’ to promote discussion and were they going to see the ‘right way to do it’ – he wasn’t clear.

Suggestion that we’d missed an opportunity to make the point about ensuring to use police powers legitimately during one scenario.

Some swearing was used to create dramatic effect – this didn’t go down well with some students: feedback was that it was unnecessary.

One student identified that we had missed the opportunity to use one of the scenarios to emphasise the importance of neutrality.

Observation that the officer in one scenario had made a statement that ‘everything would be alright’ when in fact it wouldn’t be possible to know that – caused a bit of confusion.

One of the scenarios focused too much on mental health, rather than the issues of procedural justice.

The scenarios overran – there was lots of discussion and debate which was the idea, but we didn’t leave enough time.


This session was generally received well – however we had missed some opportunities in the scenarios to make relevant points. I question the use of trainers to ‘act’ and I know that there are training companies out there who deliver training using actors, so it may be worth investigating. Another option is to use video to ensure consistency in the message.   

I suspect we could lose the didactic session and drawn the learning points out through the scenarios

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