TRUST IN THE POLICE: ANALYSIS OF URBAN CITIES IN GHANA
Boateng, Francis Danso
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Given the deteriorated relationship between the police and the people of Ghana, this study examines the causes of trust in selected urban areas in Ghana. Specifically, the study aims to: (1) test the performance theory for its applicability and generalizability in Ghana; (2) examine individual and contextual variables likely to affect Ghanaians' trust in the police. Three theoretically based research questions and four theory-driven hypotheses developed around specific indicators of the police performance theory guided this study. It was hypothesized that: (1) perception of police effectiveness will positively affect citizen's trust in the police; (2) fear of crime will have a negative effect on citizen's level of trust in the police; (3) perception of neighborhood disorder will have a negative effect on trust in the police; and (4) citizen's experiences of police corruption will have a negative effect on their trust in the police. Using representative data collected between March and June 2014 from selected urban areas/cities in five administrative regions of Ghana, the study observed three patterns attitudes toward the police in the Ghanaian socio-cultural context. The first observable pattern was that, findings from the study support the general assumption that citizens' trust and confidence in institutions increase as their perceptions of institutional performance increase. This assumption is derived from the performance theory. The second pattern that was observed from the results of the present study was that procedural justice theory can also be used to explain variations in Ghanaian's trust. Finally, using multilevel modeling technique, findings from the study revealed significant contribution of community/neighborhood-level characteristics in explaining variations in aggregate levels of trust in different neighborhoods. Specifically, community rate of disorder, community levels of income and education, as well as average fear of crime in the neighborhood exerted significant influence on the level of trust of people living in the area, controlling for their individual characteristics, such as ethnic background, perception of fairness, and exposure to the media. The findings have several implications for the Ghana Police, and by adopting a multidimensional approach, several recommendations were offered to improve and strengthen public relationship with the police.