Our 2022 Cumberland Lodge Police Conference explores how the legitimacy of, and public confidence in, the police service can be strengthened in the years ahead.
A diverse delegation of senior police officers, academics, policymakers and practitioners will come together for three days for a thorough exploration of this topic through participatory sessions, with guest speakers.
We ask: Why are legitimacy and confidence important? What will be the main challenges to police legitimacy in the 2020s and 2030s, and how should the police service prepare for these? What actions should be taken at the policy, strategic and tactical levels to strengthen legitimacy and improve public confidence?
This is the 40th event of our renowned annual Police Conference series. Every summer, it convenes an influential, cross-sector gathering of speakers and delegates to stimulate fresh thinking on key issues regarding the relationship between the police and society. The conference is shaped by our expert Police Conference Steering Committee, chaired by Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney QPM of Hampshire Constabulary.
Confidence and legitimacy are distinct but related concepts; they can be mutually supportive but they can also be in tension with one another. Confidence is normally defined as whether the public thinks the police overall do a good job, whilst police legitimacy refers more specifically to public attitudes to the use of police power – for example, do members of the public trust the police to use their powers fairly?
Policing is inherently controversial. The police possess unique powers to use lawful force and operate at the hard end of the relationship between the citizen and the state. British policing has tended to enjoy high levels of public confidence and the police service is rightly proud of a policing model characterised in the words of one author, as ‘low on power, low on numbers and high on accountability’.
Nevertheless, in the last year alone there have been a number of events that have tested the relationship between the police and the public. Police have been asked to enforce unprecedented, highly restrictive, public health regulations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic; and called on to take meaningful action on racial inequality and discrimination, following the Black Lives Matter protests. The Metropolitan Police in particular has been strongly criticised (but then largely exonerated) for its handling of a vigil for Sarah Everard, whose murder (by a serving police officer) sparked a national debate about women’s safety, and faced accusations of ongoing “institutional corruption” for the way it engaged with the inquiry into the murder of Daniel Morgan.
These events have taken place against a backdrop of longer running tensions and debates around policing issues including the use of stop and search, falling crime detection rates, new technologies such as Automatic Facial Recognition, police treatment of those who report abuse, and reduced police visibility. Establishing police legitimacy may be a process of ongoing dialogue, but it is hard to escape the conclusion that we are at a critical point in the conversation.
Looking ahead there are reasons to think that building legitimacy will become even more important as we move towards the middle of the 21st century. We can expect more high impact disruptive events such as floods and pandemics; increased political polarisation; more protests, particularly in relation to climate change; and the challenges of a contested digital environment, having to navigate fraught debates about privacy, free speech and algorithmic bias.
Key themes of discussion and cross-sector recommendations from this conference will be presented in Autumn 2022 in a Cumberland Lodge Report.
The draft report, prepared by our independent freelance Research Associate, will be reviewed and refined during an expert consultation, before being launched in central London and published online and in print. Conference delegates will have the chance to be listed as contributors to the report.
We warmly welcome all registrations of interest in attending, but attendance is by invitation only, to ensure a broad and balanced representation.
Accommodation and all meals are provided throughout the conference, as part of the ticket price.
If you would like to join this conference, please follow the 'Make Enquiry' button on this webpage to let us know how and why you would like to contribute.
For our cancellation policy, please see the PDF download on this page.
Please email our Programme Team at firstname.lastname@example.org for full details of eligibility.