Private security increasingly participates in policing, thus changing the field of policing. However, there is a lack of research on how private security is perceived by citizens, and particularly by young people. This article reports on a novel approach to studying procedural justice and trust; it compares young people’s perceptions of public and private policing. Relying on focus group data from Finland, the findings indicated that young people have more trust and confidence in the police than in private security guards. Their perceptions were based on face-to-face encounters (to measure ‘trust’) and on general assumptions (to measure ‘confidence’). Young people perceived the police as more educated, professional, legitimate and respectful than security guards. They also felt that security guards sometimes exceed their legal rights and act unfairly. However, the findings also suggest that security guards have some legitimacy. The study suggests that issues around trust in policing are more complex than prior research indicates and that private security cannot replace police tasks without it affecting perceptions of trust in policing.
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