23 February 2015 16:43

A new programme of research and knowledge sharing is to play a key role in informing future policing policy, following funding for a major new research collaboration.

Working as part of the N8 Policing Research Partnership (N8 PRP), researchers from Lancaster University are undertaking a five-year project which will develop and test innovative approaches to policing and crime reduction.

The N8 PRP, which unites academics and the police, has received a £3m grant from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), along with a further £3.686m from policing partners and other universities, with the aim to strengthen the evidence base upon which policing policy, practice and learning are developed, focusing specifically on new and emerging challenges for policing.

Led by the University of Leeds, the programme of activities brings together researchers from a variety of disciplines, Police and Crime Commissioners, police services and partner organisations to generate new insights with practical relevance.

Working on the project from Lancaster University will be Professor Corrine May-Chahal (Sociology) and Dr Stuart Kirby, of the Law School. Dr Kirby will be heading up the ‘Training and Learning’ aspect of the programme, working with Police Forces and other law enforcement agencies to suggest innovative ways that evidence-based practice can be adopted and promoted.

Dr Stuart Kirby said: “I’m very excited about the project. Particularly because of the reductions to police budgets, Police Forces are eager to achieve the best value they can. As such, being able to assist Police Forces identify and implement approaches evaluated as 'best practice' should lead to wide ranging benefits.”

Dr Kirby is also a consultant for the ‘What Works’ initiative, a £3m-project co-ordinated by University College London to review the evidence base as to what works in policing.

The key priorities of the N8 PRP initiative are research co-production, innovation in policing strategies, mobilising human and data resources to understand crime patterns, and citizen engagement to assess the public reception of new technologies, policing practices and change.

It is anticipated that the programme will make an important contribution, both nationally and internationally, to innovation, through the use of research to advance the professionalization of policing.

Sir Peter Fahy, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, one of the forces involved in the project, said: “It is essential that we develop new ways of dealing with the complexities of policing, protecting vulnerable people and every variety of threat, such as terrorism, cyber-crime and sex offenders. In order to do this it is right that we make full and appropriate use of the expertise that lies in our universities so as to develop the evidence needed to tackle these and any emerging challenges.”

The N8 PRP was launched at the end of 2013 and is a key player in the field of police research. It brings together academics from the N8 Research Partnership, an established collaboration between the universities of Lancaster, Durham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and York.