Can police-led research help to professionalize and improve the effectiveness of democratic policing? A decade ago, the premise of that question would have seemed implausible. Yet in 2017, hundreds if not thousands of police-led experiments, descriptive analyses and program evaluations are under way in English-speaking nations alone. These studies are generally tied to academic institutions, which can encourage police officers to read and apply academic police research more effectively by encouraging them to do their own research.
In the process, they become much more aware of the causes of crime and desistance from crime, the ideas of police legitimacy and procedural justice, and tensions between prevention and punishment of crime. Police who do research become avid consumers and promoters of research. This focus on facts increasingly collides with political orthodoxy, especially in areas such as policing domestic abuse, preventing terrorism, and the triaging of police resources based upon skewed concentrations of harm.
The discussion will include Australian police leaders who have recently completed major research projects, who will reflect on the promise and limitations of research for policing improvement.
Recent projects in Australia include: police academy experiments in promoting support for diversity, and in procedural justice; a trajectory analysis of domestic abuse patterns across some 60,000 cases in Northern Territories; an experiment that showed how police can solve more burglaries by spending more time talking with crime victims; and a strategic analysis of an Australian state introducing a major rollout of evidence-based policing. The role of the first “pracademic” journal in policing, the Cambridge Journal of Evidence-based Policing, as well as Police Science, and the Journal of the ANZ Society of Evidence-Based Policing, will also be considered.
Is this trend good for democracy? For the rule of law? For research? For police legitimacy? These and other reflections will be open for discussion. Academics, police officers and the general public are welcome to attend this seminar.
About the speakers
Lawrence Sherman is Chair of the Police Executive Programme at the University of Cambridge, offering a part-time Master’s degree in applied criminology and police management to over 170 students from ten countries. His 1998 Police Foundation lecture on “Evidence-Based Policing” is widely recognized as the foundation of a global professional movement generating societies for evidence-based policing in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US, now with over 5,000 members. Sherman has served as the Honorary President of the Society of Evidence-Based Policing (UK) since its formation in 2010, and is the founding Editor-in-Chief of the Cambridge Journal of Evidence-based Policing. Sherman began his career in police research in the New York City Police Department in 1971 as a civilian analyst in the Office of the Commissioner. Since then he has conducted or designed field research and experiments in over 30 police agencies across five continents, including the Metropolitan Police in London and the Australian Federal Police.
Heather Strang is Director of the Police Executive Programme and the Masters degree in Applied Criminology and Police Management at the Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge. She is also Director of Research at the Cambridge Lee Centre of Experimental Criminology and an expert in the management of randomized controlled trials, exploring a wide range of topics in criminology. Dr Strang previously served for ten years as Director of the Centre for Restorative Justice at the Australian National University, managing the four randomised controlled trials in restorative justice known as the RISE experiments. Dr Strang's research interests include the effects of crime and justice on victims of crime, the diversion of cases from prosecution to alternative disposals, as well as the application of restorative justice conferences in criminal justice as both a supplement to and diversion from prosecution. More recently she has been involved in research in the United Kingdom on police responses to domestic violence, co-directing randomised trials on programs designed to prevent repeat domestic abuse.