Legitimacy & Confidence in Policing – Cumberland Lodge Report

Resource type: Report

The Legitimacy & Confidence in Policing Cumberland Lodge Report explores the role of policing following a loss of public trust in the wake of incidents such as the murder of Sarah Everard and handling of the vigil held in her memory.

The report draws on the expertise and experience of a multi-sector delegation who attended a two-day conference in June 2022, hosted by Cumberland Lodge. It sets out key insights from the event, to inform and improve confidence and legitimacy of the police in the public eye. These insights are briefly listed below, and can be read in full in the report.

The report’s author is our freelance Research Associate, Kathryn Farrow, a doctoral student at the Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford.

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Part 1 of the report was shared with conference participants ahead of the June 2022 conference. It served as a baseline for discussion, providing an independent review of current thinking and research.

Part 2 summarises the cross-sector discussions that took place at the conference and presents seven key insights from them.


Please download your digital copy of the Legitmacy & Confidence in Policing Cumberland Lodge Report in PDf below.


The insights from Legitimacy & Confidence in Policing, expanded on in full in the report, are:

Insight one:

The nature of recent contact with the police is key to legitimacy and confidence. Building trust should therefore be at the forefront of any police response. Following the “every contact leaves a trace” principle is recommended, so that every exchange between the police and the public receives careful thought and consideration, and the social contract between the police and those they are there to serve is always respected.

Insight two:

Build satisfaction by listening to communities. Communication is key to understanding the needs of communities that policing serves. Justice is important, but victims do not necessarily always want a criminal justice solution in relation to the harm they have experienced. Sometimes a restorative justice approach is more appropriate, and it can also be more satisfying for the victim to have their needs appropriately met. However, it should be recognised that policy makers and practitioners shy away from this because it is seen a “soft option” – promotion of restorative justice needs to be greatly increased for this to be overcome.

Insight three:

Organisational justice for staff.

  • Many police organisations have developed good local policies and practice in relation to the delivery of workplace (reasonable) adjustments, but this is not consistent across all services and there is limited sharing of best practice.
  • It was felt that policies, especially in relation to attraction and recruitment, needed to build in inclusion rather than expecting candidates to ask for help. Inclusion by design should become the standard methodology of work; for instance, recruitment exercises should be designed to be suitable for neurodiverse candidates.
  • Police organisations should review their local recruitment processes to help attract neurodiverse talent.
  • Policing can learn from existing employee networks, to gain the skills, techniques, and confidence needed to recruit, retain, and develop people with disabilities in practical, affordable, and effective ways.

Insight four:

Police leadership may be more proactive in demonstrating the values of policing to the outside world, whilst also ensuring staff remain supported, especially when adverse incidents occur.

Insight five:

Where possible, police organisations should seek to build public confidence to mitigate against adverse public reaction when incidents involving the police occur. This can be achieved via some of the methods outlined below.

Insight six:

  • Existing mechanisms that aim to enhance current levels of transparency and openness, such as IAGs and ICVs, are useful starting points. To build on these, policing organisations could experiment with broadening their roles, increasing their independence and access to material, and bringing a greater variety of community people into the scrutiny role.
  • Policing organisations should strive to demonstrate transparency and openness both alongside, as well as independently of, such methods.

When utilising methods to ensure openness and transparency, policing organisations should ensure that these methods reflect what communities want. If communities relate to these groups or activities, they are willing to involve themselves in conversations that could lead to change.

Insight seven:

Communication with, and consideration of, the communities that policing serves should be paramount. This can take several forms:

  • the renewal of neighbourhood policing, to ensure that regular conversations take place with the communities that are policed.
  • utilise the Race Action Plan to improve outcomes for Black people who work within or interact with policing.
  • prioritise programmes that focus on listening to communities, build upon feedback, and follow through with commitments made. It is important that the police should aim to learn lessons from why similar initiatives have not previously shown the desired results.

However, it should be noted that funding remains a significant barrier to many of the insights here, which may hinder the extent to which these suggestions may be implemented.