Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Law

Research to inform the development of restorative policing and improve engagement with victims secures major new award

12 November 2015 | Georgia Wood

A research team based at the University of Sheffield and the University of Leeds has secured £336,000 of funding from the Police Knowledge Fund to develop greater understanding of restorative justice principles relevant to policing and the research evidence base that informs good practices that are sensitive to the needs of victims.

The 18 month project lead by Professor Joanna Shapland and Professor Adam Crawford will assist the police in identifying means for front-line officers to assess which paths to use to facilitate restorative policing and how best to introduce restorative principles to victims of crime.

The project partners include three police force areas in which the research will be conducted - South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and Humberside – as well as Remedi, a specialist voluntary sector organisation providing restorative responses. The Police and Crime Commissioners and senior command teams in the force areas are committed to ensuring the greatest impact and value from the research.

The initiative, launched by the College of Policing, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and the Home Office aims to strengthen collaboration between academia and police forces in order to increase evidence-based knowledge, skills and problem-solving approaches within policing.

Professor Joanna Shapland, Principal Investigator on the project, from the University of Sheffield's School of Law, said: “We are delighted to be awarded this grant by the Police Knowledge Fund and to be working with the three forces to help them develop restorative policing and to improve their work with victims of crime.”

Mark Burns-Williamson, Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire said: "This project is particularly timely and important given recent changes and developments in the commitment to police organisations and the delivery of restorative justice. The proposed collaboration with the Universities of Sheffield and Leeds will enable us to better understand and improve our practices in delivering restorative justice and improve engagement with victims.”

Justine Curran, Chief Constable of Humberside Police, said: “We are delighted to be involved in this pioneering partnership and innovative programme of research and development work. We look forward to helping ensure its successful implementation and to maximising the benefits and lessons that derive from the research and knowledge it will generate.”

Matthew Grove, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Humberside, added: "This research will hopefully help to demonstrate the benefits and evidence base for restorative justice in practice and, when used appropriately, show how it can improve community safety and wellbeing and strengthen civil society."

In affirming his support for the research project Dr Alan Billings, Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire noted: “This research project fits in with the development and policing plan for restorative justice that is already financially supported through my office.”

Steve Jones, Director of Remedi, added: “We feel this research will act as the catalyst for change in ensuring both the quality and effectiveness of restorative policing and, by doing so, enable the full potential benefits of restorative justice for victims of crime and offenders to be realized.”

The N8 Policing Research Partnership

The research connects well with and complements the work of the N8 Policing Research Partnership of which the research team are members. The N8 Policing Research Partnership is working with eleven police forces and eight universities across the north of England to transform relations between universities and policing partners, strengthen the evidence base, and foster innovation in approaches to policing and crime reduction. Professor Crawford who is also the Director of the N8 Policing Research Partnership said:

“This important new research into restorative policing is a further example of the manner in which N8 universities are collaborating with policing partners in novel ways to co-produce knowledge that will inform future policing strategies and help ensure police practices that conform with the best research evidence available.”

The Police Knowledge Fund

Following a rigorous assessment process, 14 bids involving 39 forces, 30 universities, the British Transport Police, Police Service Northern Ireland and the National Crime Agency, have been awarded funding. The successful bids range from the establishment of collaborations to achieve evidence-based regional and national centres for professional development, to key strategic areas of policing, to innovative research work in areas such as cybercrime, mental health issues and digital policing strategies.

HEFCE’s Director of Research, Education and Knowledge Exchange, David Sweeney, said: “HEFCE is delighted by the response from the higher education sector to the Police Knowledge Fund. All of the bids identified exciting new opportunities for collaborative working and innovations with police forces and other partners. The 14 bids awarded funding will provide high-quality teaching and research activity, and add to the evidence and knowledge base to support current national priorities in policing and crime reduction.”

College of Policing Director of Knowledge Research and Education, Rachel Tuffin, said:

"We received 72 excellent bids and it was great to see the appetite out there for improving policing through research and evidence-based practice for officers and staff. The successful bidders have presented a wide range of ideas and initiatives aimed at building the evidence base in policing to help frontline officers and staff develop their skills and knowledge… I'm looking forward to seeing these 14 bids put into practice and continuing to develop and promote what really works in policing and crime reduction."

For further information about the N8 Policing Research Partnership see: www.n8prp.org.uk

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