The Influence of Public Corruption and Human Values on Trust in the Police: A European Cross-National Perspective

Sabrina Pfister


Police forces are an important part of every democratic system and depend on societal legitimacy to perform their duties. Societal legitimacy stems from compliance with binding principles, like human rights and national law, and from broad acceptance from the people. Accordingly, police forces need the public’s trust to perform their duties in today’s European democracies. This paper investigates trust in police forces based on individual and contextual factors found in European countries. To explain trust in police forces, this paper uses human values on an individual level as well as perceived public-sector corruptionon a macro level. The analysis is based on data from the European Social Survey 2016 (ESS) and the Corruption Perception Index 2015 (CPI). It combines individual and contextual factors using multilevel models to explore differing levels of trust in police forces as well as the dynamics between perceived public-sector corruption, human values, and trust in the police. The results confirm previous findings that trust in police forces erodes in the face of perceived public-sector corruption, while human values play a sub-ordered role in the explanation of trust in the police in European countries.

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Kyiv-Mohyla Law and Politics Journal

ISSN 2414-9942

National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy
2 Skovoroda St., Kyiv 04070, Ukraine


Creative Commons License
This journal is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License