Exploring evidence-based policing
Exploring evidence-based policing

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Exploring evidence-based policing

3.2 Implementation

While assessing the evidence is key, so too is practical implementation. As Braga (2009) argues:

Implementation is critical to the development of the evidence-based policing model. It is not enough to evaluate what strategies work best when implemented properly under controlled conditions. Ongoing research is necessary to determine the results particular police agencies are achieving by applying (or not) the recommended practices.

This implies that rather than just being one-off investigation, effective EBP is an ongoing process.

Activity 2 Key aspects and research

Timing: Allow approximately 10 minutes

In the following clip Dr Nicky Miller, Director of Knowledge into Practice at the Open University’s Centre for Police Research & Learning, discusses some of the key aspects of evidence-based policing and the research supporting these approaches.

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 1
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Transcript: Video 1 Dr Nicky Miller

Nicky Miller:
Hi, I'm Doctor Nicky Miller, and I’m Director of Knowledge into Practice at the Open University Center for Policing Research and Learning. Evidence-based policing is really about the creation, the review, and the use of the best available evidence to perform policing practice and decision making.
Evidence-based policing is about the creation of research evidence, to answer questions to inform police policy and practice. It's not just about the creation of that evidence, it's also about reviewing the ability of police officers, and staff, and researchers, to review the quality of existing evidence, and be able to use then that evidence to actually inform police practice and decision making.
The key principles for evidence-based policing are around having very robust research evidence, or the best available research evidence, to inform police practice and decision making, and combining that with professional experience and judgment to police officers. And I think, it's about taking a very systematic approach to creating, and reviewing, and using that evidence.
So, for example, there are a number of different approaches and processes that have been developed in the College of Policing, which is both a professional body for the police service, uses something called the Atlas Model, which is around Atlas standing, for [INAUDIBLE]] test learn, adapt, and share.
So, in taking an evidence-based approach, you will first ask, what's the problem with trying to solve? Is there a better way of doing things compared with our traditional practice? You'll then think about testing some new way of doing something – a new practice – and generate some evidence from that. You will learn from that test, from that evaluation-- from an intervention, whether or not it's a cause, and be based on the evidence. And then if it works, and shown to be effective, you can share that not just amongst your force, but amongst policing in more general.
I think it’s about making sure that it's going on the best available evidence to inform policing practice. I think that there’s many examples of policing practices that are probably based more on traditional ways of doing things, and because of that, they're not actually – that things may have changed, the context may have changed, practices have changed. And it may be that they, just because it was the way you used to do it, might not necessarily be the correct way of doing something now. So I think, it's about making sure the practices that you're doing are actually embedded in research evidence.
Within evidence-based policing, there’s very much methods for within evidence-based policing. So there's a lot of the emphasis in evidence-based policing has been on the use of very robust search methods to actually show that something works.
So there's been because of the introduction by Larry Sherman in particular, around the intent about assessing the quality of interventions in a very robust way. There's been an emphasis on creating impact evaluations based on randomized control trials and systematic literature reviews around creating the evidence base, and synthesizing the best available evidence space.
And I think there's a lot of people that think that there’s been too much of an emphasis on creating what works – evidence-based policing. And evidence-based policing is about finding the best available evidence, and that's not necessarily always to answer the question of what works. It might be also to ask how something works, why something works, and creating research geared towards those questions using different research methodologies.
And I think that one debate is, that there's been too much emphasis on the creation of impact evaluations, and less so on trying to build and generate robust evidence to ask other particular questions that might be relevant in policing. I think one of the other debates around evidence-based policing is the extent to which it should or shouldn't remain in the purview of researchers and academic researchers.
I obviously disagree with that. I feel that evidence-based policing is about taking a coproduced approach to policing. It's about. building the capability and the understanding of police officers to both use understand evidence. And I think doing that in relationships and partnerships with academia actually produces something much more tangible and something much more relevant to use.
Another debate is the culture change in policing. Policing has traditionally been based on very much professional expertise and professional judgment. And I think trying to get police to recognize the value that research evidence can bring to its practice is quite a challenge. There's a cultural challenge that academia doesn't belong within policing.
But also I think there’s the challenge about senior leaders perhaps in policing not recognizing the value that search evidence can bring to policing practice. And obviously senior leadership is integral in trying to change the culture of policing.
So I think there’s a real challenge in trying to raise awareness among senior leaders about the real value of evidence-based as an approach. Another challenge that I think that policing faces, in terms of evidence-based policing, is about translating the research into practice – the research evidence into practice.
I think it’s very easy for academia, even in collaboration with policing, to generate research evidence. But then it's less easy to actually then translate that, and show how that research evidence can actually be directly implemented or directly inform policing approaches.
End transcript: Video 1 Dr Nicky Miller
Video 1 Dr Nicky Miller
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Discussion

In the clip, Dr Miller discusses not just what evidence-based policing is but also some of the key principles which underpin it. These include seeking to have the best available research evidence and combining that with professional expertise and insight. It also includes taking a systematic approach to creating, reviewing and using evidence. By drawing on these principles, those working in policing can more effectively integrate evidence-based approaches into their day-to-day work.

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