All Cops are Trusted? How Context and Time Shape Immigrants’ Trust in the Police in Europe

Christian S. Czymara & Jeffrey Mitchell

APA citation: Czymara, C. S., & Mitchell, J. (2023). All cops are trusted? How context and time shape immigrants’ trust in the police in Europe. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 46(1), 72-96.


The relationship between police and ethnic minorities has been the subject of increasing interest in many Western societies in recent years. We examine first-generation immigrants’ trust in the police in Europe from a comparative and longitudinal perspective. Based on roughly 20,000 immigrants observed in 22 countries over 13 years in the European Social Survey, results show that initially high levels of trust in the police among immigrants tend to erode with the length of their stay in the host country. We show that two simultaneous processes drive this pattern: a fading reference effect (downward assimilation) and an increasing discrimination effect. Cross-national comparisons show that, on average, immigrants in countries with more police trust the police less. However, there is no effect of police size within countries, mostly because police numbers hardly change over time. We discuss implications for future research and policy development based on our findings.


Media coverage

  • “Soviel zum Thema Interkulturelle Kompetenz” (
  • “Study finds immigrants initially trust police more than locals, but that trust wanes over time” (
  • “Warum Geflüchtete der Polizei mit der Zeit weniger vertrauen” (
  • “Migranten verlieren Vertrauen in Polizei” (Rhein-Main Zeitung May 2022)


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