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.