DMU undergraduate policing research

There are some who regard undergraduate dissertations as not ‘proper research’ but we at EMPAC see a lot of benefit for lots of reasons. Many of the dissertation writers are exploring a possible career in policing and they often focus their attention on ‘real-world’ professional issues, that offer genuine ‘new eyes’ innovation and insight. This is also the first stage for many who will go on to complete Masters and beyond, and this is where their research training starts. Fresh insights should always be welcome in the name of progress and innovation!   

So, we’re proud here to be able to report on inspirational work at De Montfort University that showcased such undergraduates, before a mixed audience of international academics and policing professionals. It’s not just EMPAC who see the value; the event was supported by Blackstone’s Oxford University Press, who were represented by Stuart Johnson. 

Chief Superintendent Martin Ball of Leicestershire Police welcomed everyone in, followed by an introductory key note address by Professors Timothy Akers of Morgan State University, Baltimore, and William Hervey of Middle George State University, Atlanta. Then, Programme Leader and former detective, Tina Billington-Hughes, introduced a dazzling array of applied social science students and we’re going to tell you about just a few of them here.


Robyn Cooper carried out research into British citizens’ perceptions of EU nationals with convictions for violence and sexual offences entering the UK, identifying a current lack of research on the topics and a lack of current reliable statistics. Robyn found 88% of those surveyed did not agree with such EU nationals visiting the UK and 98% were opposed to them living in the UK. Interesting perspectives to ponder during the midst of Brexit negotiations, given other data pointing to a rise in community tensions linked to free movement in the EU.


Sophie Kind and Liam Moore both talked about research in Leicester, with Sophie showcasing her insightful review of counter-terrorism  methods utilised by stewards at Leicester City Football club, and Liam prompting much debate and international comparison when he related his survey of perceptions of the use of spit guards by police.

Luke Eden-Walker conducted an evaluation of police mental health triage systems, building on Quinn, Laville and Duncan (2016) where 40% of police operational time was found to be devoted to mental health issues.  Luke explored the use of Section 136 of the Mental Health Act, 1983 and found due to various interventions, such as street triage, a 33% reduction of police use of S.136. Complex funding arrangements though are not supportive of sustainability or consistency, and future work needs to be embedded within health, rather than policing, resources. 

Gemma Johnson, who is now working in China, submitted a short film charting her study of public perceptions on Leicestershire Police community engagement. Gemma’s work reinforced the importance of PCSOs in forming a vital connection with local communities. Fatima Ologbun posed a tough question in ‘why are ethnic minorities under-represented in the British Police Service?’, and explained her findings. One key point focussed on the need to to reach out to the parents of potential new policing recruits, as family based perceptions can be a first-stage barrier to joining up.


Jasvir Kaur prompted a fascinating discussion of the ethics of interrogation when she explained all about her research exploring enhanced interrogation techniques use between 2003 and 2006 in the USA under the Bush administration. Jasvir opened up the ethical dilemmas of coercive methods of interrogation by looking at the treatment of Manadel Al Jamadi, a suspected terrorist.  Violations of articles 3 and 4 of the Geneva Convention were found to have been committed during treatment of this suspect, as a ‘ghost prisoner’ at Abu Ghraib Prison, near Baghdad, Iraq. 


If you are interested in finding out any more about this and other policing research at DMU contact Tina Billington-Hughes at


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