Using virtual volunteers to accelerate policing ideas

Dr Martin Wright, Visiting Fellow at the International Centre for Policing and Security in the University of South Wales, has pioneered a great new way of enabling university students to dynamically contribute their creativity towards policing innovation.

Dr Wright is to be congratulated on overcoming previous barriers, not only across academic boundaries (which have tended to be unhelpfully tribal) but also uniting fresh ideas for new opportunities without the barriers of vetting (which can be cumbersome, slow and off putting), in order to enable more volunteering activities to support policing.

A new way, allowing new ideas

The idea is to use the controlled Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), part of the university Intranet system careers page, to facilitate students of all disciplines to be able to imagine new ways of keeping society safer. For example, techniques encouraged have included gamification to help combat international money mules, to support the Tarian Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU). Allowing new minds, with new ideas, accelerates policing potential with an increased capacity and capability to help it get upstream and more proactive.

This solution orientated approach is transferable across all universities and following proof of concept testing in Wales, involving four Welsh police services, other universities are now encouraged to participate, along with their partner police services, in order to focus efforts on the key challenges facing policing. 

Virtual Volunteers

This new approach utilises virtual volunteers (V V), as an extension of Citizens in Policing (CiP) to invite, and draw out, ideas to proactively help policing. It’s a win / win as the contribution that students make can be negotiated as part of their formal studies, which helps reinforce the importance of improving impact of theory to practice, which the United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI) national strategy encourages.

Knowledge and skills audits ensure that time spent is focused on specific challenges, with a defined outcomes, with appropriate support. The new approach means things can happen with more agility, as there is more often than not no need to access confidential information, access police buildings, or require policing supervision.

Get involved

To get involved with your local university and policing service, and spread this exciting new way of accelerating policing ideas, get in touch with Dr Wright at:-


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