What is ‘What Works’?

This week, the Research Inspector looks at the information available, in summary and detail, from definitive studies in major areas of policing for use by frontline officers and staff.

Jan 24, 2018

This week, the Research Inspector looks at the information available, in summary and detail, from definitive studies in major areas of policing for use by frontline officers and staff. Getting relevant research findings into the hands of practitioners so that service improvements can be made is a constant challenge, not least because policing professionals are in such a busy emergency service working environment. Sometimes, though, it can help just a little to show where some of the resources live, and explain how to access them to increase the likelihood of busy professionals taking a closer look. In these days of so much information being available and with a never ending stream of emails and links to websites, it is easy to be overwhelmed, so it is reassuring to know there is a government approved ‘one stop shop’ you can go to when you are seeking reliable research evidence. This week, the Research Inspector looks at the College of Policing’s ‘What Works’ web resource, which is freely available to all policing professionals. A national resource such as this is really useful for practitioners, as the college has identified key themes and listed only research that has been ‘peer reviewed’ to ensure some independent evaluation of its usefulness. It is easy to use – simply click here. The key themes of the collected research – there are ten of them – have been developed to cover the breadth of policing and key partners in crime prevention and justice. The ten areas are: •Ethics and values; •Personal and public safety; •Information management/ICT; •Community engagement and crime prevention; •Forensics and evidence gathering; •Public protection; •Intelligence and counter terrorism; •Crime and investigation; •Planned operations and emergency procedures; and •Leadership and strategic command. Let us take a whirlwind tour of some of the resources, for example, in crime and investigation. There is quite a variety here, starting with an analysis of the effectiveness of stop search in reducing overall crime, covering a ten-year period, using Metropolitan Police Service data. Continuing on that theme, there is an inquiry into cannabis-specific stop searches, exploring whether the effectiveness of stops is different, depending on the initial grounds. Then we have a random controlled trial looking at the effectiveness of body-worn video in domestic violence incidents. Moving on, there are findings to inform how to best use accident and emergency data to inform crime prevention, an aspect of particular use for analysts. Then we have a review of the effectiveness of the differing interview techniques and the links to investigative outcomes. The list goes on, from the effectiveness of pre-charge bail, the initial risk-based approach to missing persons reports, the use of asset confiscation in tackling organised crime, and even an inquiry into the complexities of crime recording itself. You can see there is quite a diversity of topics and probably most policing professionals, for reasons we have already mentioned, have not had a look at all of these. No criticism intended, as we understand the working environment – but the point of this showcase of ‘What Works’ is just to explain there is a quick and easy way of skimming if there is something in there of relevance to you at any one particular time. But, you might be thinking, having identified a topic and found a research report, how user-friendly are these – have I got the time to go through one? So, let us take a quick snapshot of just one – the policing response to missing persons – to show you what to expect. Here we find a 55-page report by Anda Bayliss and Paul Quinton. The report’s key purpose is to explore if the initial police response to missing persons is proportionate and efficient balanced against the risks involved. If all missing person occurrences were ‘immediate’ as a default this could be affecting valuable response officer deployment. S

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