Improving Police Communication Research at Nottingham Trent

The East Midlands has a population of just under 5 million people, and is growing. It contains some of the most diverse areas in the UK, and its airport is used by over 3 million international travellers from 27 countries every year. Policing communication skills have to be able to work effectively within such diversity.

Katherine King is a doctoral researcher at Nottingham Trent University exploring communication challenges in police interactions involving people whose first language is not English (L2 speakers). Katherine’s research is being supervised by forensic linguist Associate Professor David Wright.

Understanding communication difficulties

The research will entail a systematic review of academic and non-academic literature including a critical assessment of current legislative requirements and communication training opportunities provided to police officers.

Katherine will be conducting surveys and semi-structured qualitative interviews with witnesses and police officers, to assess how communication difficulties experienced during encounters with the police can be informed by the existing international literature. 

The research will explore all possible contact points with law enforcement in the East Midlands, ranging from engagement with digital services provided by forces (e.g. websites, social media, text message services) and in-person interactions (e.g. being interviewed, having witness statements taken).

The benefits of the research

The research will help understand the main causes of communication challenges in order to provide the foundations for making improvements to services and training to better serve the multilingual populations of the East Midlands and improve their access to justice.

Potential routes to impact include the (co-)development of an advisory booklet, guidance documentation and Continuing Professional Development workshops, aimed at police officers who regularly interact with L2 English speakers, targeted first at East Midlands forces, with a view to nationwide rollout through the College of Policing and the Citizens’ Advice Bureau.

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