Collaborative Research

EMPAC is pleased to be able to reflect just for a moment on our distance travelled in growing collaborative, co-produced research to improve policing in our region. Although what we feature here is simply a snapshot it’s testament to the incredible amount and diversity of work that is happening. EMPAC comprises nineteen component parts – the five forces, and five OPCCs, with eight universities and the East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU). EMPAC itself is not an additional entity: it is the connectivity between those nineteen parts, working together to use research to improve policing. For more information follow the links to our East Midlands Police and Crime Research and Development Plan:

Northamptonshire Police’s Chief Superintendent Mick Stamper and Sean Scannell have been leading on an early intervention partnership hub pilot in order to reduce future offending, working with the University of Northampton. A Target Nominal Matrix has been created to tackle the highest risk, threat and harm, and is informed by research on the causes behind offending, sometimes linked to adverse childhood experiences and school exclusion. Operationalising the research means in this case creating that Early Intervention Hub and embedding thinking in force tasking. Northamptonshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Stephen Mold, has commissioned an independent evaluation of the impact by the University of Northampton.  Danny Ash, of the University of Northampton said, “we need to explore the ‘causes’ of crime, not just respond to symptoms. Northamptonshire Police have been innovative in seeking new ways of reducing harm and demand by breaking the reactive cycle”.

The University of Northampton have also been busy researching and applying findings around citizens in policing. Knowing that policing resources are scarce, exploiting the opportunities of volunteers is important and Dr Laura Knight,  Dr Matthew Callender and Dr Iain Britton at the Institute for Criminal Justice have identified best practice for optimising volunteering in policing by working with Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire Police. New ESRC funding is enabling comparison of volunteering in policing best practice with international colleagues. This work complements the innovative work at the University of Derby in growing Police Cadets, where there is the only accredited police cadet programme in the UK; a programme which also open up additional career pathways to better reflect communities within policing.

It is more and more a shrinking and interconnected world not least because of the digital age. The University of Lincoln is pioneering research to find applicable ways of getting policing ahead of the ferocious pace of digital change. The research is all about developing crime prevention methods, drawing on previous theory but targeting digital and online crime is as a ‘balance’ between social and situational approaches, and gauging the role of the offender, victim and online environment. Lincoln’s Professor Matthew Hall said, “we’re very excited now at the prospect of being able to not only keep up but also better scrutinise and even influence the future of the digital world to help policing re-invent itself and remain effective.”

Digital Policing is also one of the priorities for research at the University of Derby, where cutting edge inter-disciplinary research is mapping out inputs, intelligence and investigative process, decision-making junctures and outputs with respect to cyber-dependent criminality. This all involves bringing together operational Cyber Crime and Economic Crime Units with computer scientists, lawyers, cyber security and data protection researchers in co-produced research.

Lincolnshire Police’s Superintendent Mark Housley is leading collaborative exploration of how to better understand demand. This includes working with Dr Rowena Hill of Nottingham Trent University, making links with policing core partners in the Ambulance Service and Fire and Rescue Service, to join up blue light capacity and capability to understand emerging social needs.

De Montfort University have been working with the national leads for rural crime amongst PCCs and NPCC to cast a light on hidden organised criminality. Early findings reveal some rural crime capability has been outgunned by sophisticated criminal networks in the past, but DMU by working with practitioners as well as strategic leads are working through practical ways how policing can respond and get more agile and sophisticated in order to beat organised criminal gangs. DMU’s Jim Holyoak explained, “rural crime has often been overlooked by research but we’re finding valuable insights now that could inform a whole new way of building a much stronger policing capability in what can be isolated and vulnerable environments.”

The Rights Lab is a research beacon at the University of Nottingham and has built a global network  to inform tackling Modern Slavery. Drawing on much international work and working with its local partners such as Professor Dave Walsh of DMU, Nottingham is part of a regional working group, chaired by DI Harry Dick, based at the East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU). Harry’s role is to co-ordinate all Modern Slavery research across all the universities and various academic disciplines for the region.  The idea is to ensure that the research feeds into the strategic intelligence picture and directly supports the risk, threat and harm regional lead.

EMSOU have also brought together academics with practitioners to review and explore both the challenge and opportunity of Analytics in policing. Assistant Professor Andy Newton of the University of Leicester explained, “we have had great joint working involving a number of universities that is helping inform new priorities and approaches that links up analytical capacity with intelligence development”. Andy is working with Directors of Intelligence and is hosting a Roundtable on the next stages this Spring; an approach that is well in tune with the Serous Organised Crime Strategy that encourages active working between policing and academic researchers to turn the tide on rapidly changing criminal enterprise.

Peter Ward of East Midlands Collaborative Human Resources Learning and Development has been working with the College of Policing, the Mayor’s Office for Policing in London and a number of academics, including Dr Steve O’Brien of the University of Northampton. Drawing together practitioner and academic insights has highlighted the need to invest more in continual professional development to complement other modernisation strategies and value the existing professionalism within policing.

Dr Kerry Clamp at the University of Nottingham is developing fresh approaches in the UK to reducing offending and better supporting victims through the use of restorative justice. In addition to her role as the Chair of the UK Restorative Justice Council, she offers her expertise to the Derbyshire Criminal Justice Board. Terry O’Connell, a former New South Wales officer who pioneered much RJ within policing, is being flown over to Derby to pilot approaches that in previous studies have significantly reduced offending.

In Derbyshire, work to support victims of domestic violence is being evaluated by De Montfort University to test its efficacy. The work is testing the benefits of Holly Guard, a mobile safety App, which as a form of digital technology could help protect victims. The DMU research will help inform the deployment and use of the approach and what impact could have on Domestic Abuse charging outcomes.

Leicestershire Police’s Sgt Mark Brennan has been a powerhouse of inspiration in getting people enthused about the benefits of evidence-based policing. He has made particular impact in getting sergeants involved and now brings together practitioners and academic researchers together in an annual problem-solving event to support joined up problem solving of priority policing matters.

Nottingham Trent University have pioneered research on anti-social behaviour, led by Professor Andromachi Tseloni and Dr Becky Thompson, which reveals the harm caused by incidents, repeat victimisation and the satisfaction of victims to police. This research is now being actively shared with policing and partners who work with ASB to help review and improve professional practice. Dr James Hunter has developed a community engagement area classification which has been piloted and is now on a national roll-out having proved its benefits to policing decision making and tackling specific issues such as ASB and hate crime.

Over at the University of Leicester, Professor Neil Chakrobati heads up a national Hate Crime Centre, which has a global reputation in researching how best to understand and respond to all forms of hate crime. Neil has been running workshops with policing practitioners to identify best practice application and identify knowledge gaps in tackling hate crime. Reviewing current practice together following recent HMICFRS findings by is progressive and means that any policing insularity is challenged by wider perspectives around vulnerability. This work is complemented by Associate Professor Loretta Trickett of Nottingham Law School’s work on risk assessing hate crime, which has already led to positive HMICFRS recognition. Loretta is now working with East Midlands practitioners, including control room personnel, to identify even better ways of informing risk by ensuring a balance between process and professional judgement. 

Also, in Leicestershire, Loughborough University is conducting collaborative and research across a number of different disciplines. Professor Elizabeth Stokoe has identified effective interview strategies that has resulted in training for officers, particularly focused on vulnerable victims of sexual crime.  Professor Lisa Jackson and Dr Sarah Dunnett have applied risk and reliability methods to demand modelling to maximise crime attendance for Leicestershire Police, and Professor Michael Henshaw has worked with Nottinghamshire Police on dispatch decision support for grade 2 incidents.  Professor Chris Cushion from Sport Sciences is applying a learning environment for physical skills in dangerous situations to officer safety training. Dr Ashraf El-Hamalawi is using engineering techniques to develop methods for crime prevention by securing buildings and Professor Eran Eririsinghe has been working with industry and various police forces to provide CCTV forensic investigation software.  In chemistry, Dr Paul Kelly has developed novel finger printing imaging technologies for document analysis and new techniques to tackle heritage crime (e.g. metal theft). Finally, Professor Darren Smith is providing support to Leicestershire Police on People Zones, through the development of effectiveness measures.

Nottinghamshire Police’s Inspector Duncan Collins has been working closely with academics to inform just what might be the leading custody suite in the world! Duncan’s  working with Stephanie Kyle and Dr Chloe Hocking of the University of Nottingham has informed the design of the custody environment. Duncan said, “it’s really opened my eyes working with academic researchers to offer new ways of thinking about things and bring in knowledge that we would just not have been aware of otherwise. It’s not about just theory – this has been all about turning theory into reality and I’m proud of what we’ve achieved together.”

This is just a flavour of the benefits of policing working with academic researchers. The reality is it’s a win / win as it results in better research and better policing. The ongoing regional work is led strategically by a PCC representative, Hardyal Dhindsa, and an NPCC representative, DCC Craig Naylor. The work goes on!


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