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The Oxford Handbook of Criminology

The Oxford Handbook of Criminology (7th edn)

Alison Liebling, Shadd Maruna, and Lesley McAra
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date: 13 April 2024

p. 22310. Public opinion, crime, and criminal justicelocked

p. 22310. Public opinion, crime, and criminal justicelocked

  • Mike Hough
  •  and Julian V. Roberts


This chapter summarizes research on public opinion about crime and criminal justice in developed industrialized societies. It starts with an assessment of what can be said about public knowledge about crime, documenting widespread misperceptions about the nature of crime, about crime trends, and about the criminal justice response to crime. It then considers public attitudes towards crime and justice, which tend to be largely negative. The chapter presents evidence of the links between levels of knowledge and attitudes to justice, suggesting that misinformation about crime and justice is the likely source of negative public ratings of the justice system. Penal populism and populist punitiveness are considered. The chapter ends by exploring issues of public trust in justice, confidence, and legitimacy.

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