School of Law

Innovation and the application of knowledge for more effective policing

February 2015 -

This initiative will develop and test mechanisms of knowledge exchange and research co-production to strengthen the evidence base on which policing policy, practice and learning are developed. In so doing, it will make an important contribution to innovation and the aspiration for the professionalisation of policing.

In this Section:

N8 Policing Research Partnership Catalyst Grant

This exciting new five-year programme of research and knowledge exchange will pioneer an innovative collaboration between police forces and universities in the North of England. It intends to build a regional policing research platform with national impact and international significance.

Aim and Objectives

The overall project aim is to build research co-production capacity and test mechanisms for exploiting the knowledge and expertise of the HE sector in order to strengthen the evidence base on which police policy, practice and training are developed and so support innovation and the professionalisation of policing.

The project objectives are:

i.       To produce high quality, independent research of relevance to the police services and which will enhance the international reputation and recognition of policing research in the north of England.

ii.       To build policing research and knowledge exchange capacity in HEIs and to facilitate the efficient and effective transfer of knowledge that is vital to developing sound, evidence-based policing policy and practice.

iii.       To enhance the quality, integrity, scope, synthesis and exploitation of the datasets available to inform policing research and effective practices.

iv.       To develop capacity and resources in (a) policing research and (b) police and crime data analytics in ways that inform research and facilitate knowledge creation, dissemination and application.

v.       To encourage and foster the development of national and international links with other researchers, policy makers and practitioners involved in policing research.

vi.      To develop and disseminate a transferable model of practice for application by other HEIs and across the public sector, and internationally - with a view to extending the reputation and impact of English HE.

Project Leadership

The Project Director is Professor Adam Crawford (Leeds) and the Deputy Directors are Professor Sandra Walklate (Liverpool) & Professor Nicole Westmarland (Durham).


The programme has been developed by the N8 Policing Research Partnership - see

Partners include the eight universities incorporated in the N8 Research Partnership: Durham, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and York - see

The Policing partners that are contributing to the initiative include police forces and offices of the Police and Crime Commissioner in Cheshire, Cumbria, Humberside, Lancashire, Durham, Greater Manchester; Merseyside, Northumbria, North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, and West Yorkshire; and Your Homes Newcastle.

The collaboration is also supported in its work by the College of Policing, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and other non-N8 universities.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) is supporting the programme with a £3m grant through its Catalyst fund. In excess of £4m will be contributed by university and policing partners.


Professor Adam Crawford (University of Leeds)

Professor David Allen (LUBS)

Dr Nicolas Malleson (Environment)

Professor Nicole Westmarland (Durham University)

Dr Stuart Kirby (Lancaster University)

Professor Sandra Walklate (University of Liverpool)

Dr Stephen Brookes (University of Manchester Business School)

Dr Layla Skinns, (University of Sheffield)

Professor Joanna Shapland (University of Sheffield)

Dr Jill Clarke (Newcastle University)

Dr Adam White (University of York)


This project will enhance the impact of HE research in the policing sector through the development and testing of mechanisms of knowledge exchange to strengthen the evidence base on which police policy, practice and learning are developed and so support innovation and the professionalisation of policing.

By mobilising human and data resources within the partnership the project will:

  • develop and strengthen the research evidence base
  • demonstrate the value of research co-production by tackling front-line problems
  • enhance the capacity of policing partners to undertake and utilise research
  • improve the scope and robustness of the data available to inform practice
  • open up new avenues for data analysis, visualisation and data exploitation
  • build a culture change in the police that is appreciative of the role and value of research evidence
  • foster change among participating universities by enhancing pathways to impact across the sector.

Delivery Mechanisms and Activities

The programme has been designed to make an important contribution to innovation and the aspiration for the professionalisation of policing. Nine interconnected and mutually supportive activity strands (each N8 institution leads on a strand) are planned to deliver project goals by providing a robust and sustainable platform for HE-police collaboration. The programme will provide mechanisms to bring researchers and practitioners together to design and undertake research that focuses specifically on new and emerging challenges for policing. This initiative will develop and test mechanisms of knowledge exchange and research co-production to strengthen the evidence base on which policing policy, practice and learning are developed. These activities will also secure a culture change in the use of research in policing and relations between researchers and policing professionals. 

Project Governance and Management (University of Leeds)

To provide the project with clear governance and management structures that incorporate the key stakeholders (including the participating policing partners and the College of Policing) into decision-making processes and provide clear accountability and oversight. An international and national communication and dissemination strategy and action plan will be developed and implemented to ensure the widest possible impact and dissemination of the findings and lessons learnt.

Professor Adam Crawford (Director)

Policing Innovation Forum (University of Manchester)

To constitute a dynamic ‘engine’ of innovation at the heart of the overall project that regularly spawns new synergies, identifies novel research co-production opportunities, stimulates knowledge exchange and drives innovation. Key policing partners and wider stakeholders will be central to the design and operation of the forum which will generate ideas that feed into activity strand V (below).

Dr Stephen Brookes

Data Analytics (University of Leeds)

To provide a data analytics clearing house enabling the pooling and sharing of significant policing and other appropriate datasets. The clearing house will act as a forum and, where appropriate, secure data repository service, providing access to police data that are otherwise inaccessible and poorly utilised.

Professor David Allen and Dr Nicolas Malleson

People and Knowledge Exchange Platforms (Durham University)

To provide significant staff mobility and interaction between police/partner agencies and academics (including early career researchers) in HEIs. The intention is to foster greater mutual understanding and trust between the partners via people exchange, including secondments, internships and placements, and also to facilitate research into priority policing issues. A systematic and sustainable infrastructure with dedicated resources and services that support the regional knowledge exchange partnership will also be provided. 

Professor Nicole Westmarland (Deputy Director)

Research Co-production (Newcastle University)

To build excellent and sustainable research capacity and capability to tackle new and emerging fields of enquiry and policing challenges. It will embed innovation directly within the programme of research co-production and generate spin-off research grant applications and teams of research collaborators from across the partnership. It is also intended to support a cohort of new generation research studentships that benefit from experiential learning opportunities and close collaborations with policing partners.

Dr Jill Clark

Citizen Engagement (University of Liverpool)

To embed citizen engagement and public understanding of policing into the programme of research and knowledge exchange. It will enable the platform to test the public reception of new technologies, policing practices and innovations at early stages of development and after implementation to shape and influence strategies and inform future research priorities.

Professor Sandra Walklate (Deputy Director)

International Programme (University of Sheffield)

To develop international research and knowledge exchange collaborations, exploit the international impact of policing research and extend the reputation and impact of English HE.

Dr Layla Skinns and Professor Joanna Shapland

Training and Learning (Lancaster University)

To enhance research training and learning among police and partner organisations to secure research impact and maximise the practical benefits to policing innovation and the exploitation of data. 

Dr Stuart Kirby

Project Evaluation and Monitoring (University of York)

To evaluate the impact, value and effectiveness of the different activity strands as they develop and to monitor the implementation and effectiveness of the plans and delivery structure.

Dr Adam White

Presenataions from the conference Police-University Research Collaborations: making evidenced-based policing a reality, which took place on 29 September 2015 at the Learning and Development Centre, Wakefield

‘Creative Disruptions’ - Cultural and organisational change through police-university collaborations
Professor Adam Crawford, University of Leeds

‘What Works’: Evidence Based Approaches - The work of the Commissioned Partnership Programme
Professor Gloria Laycock, UCL Jill Dando Professor of Crime Science

Hub 1: Community Engagement
Stuart Lister, University of Leeds and Paul Money, West Yorkshire Police

Hub 2: Understanding Acquisitive Crime through Collaborative Spatial Analysis of Burglary and Shoplifting
Dr Nick Malleson, School of Geography, University of Leeds

Evidence Matters
Dr Nicky Miller, Research Evidence Partnerships Manager, Knowledge, Research and Practice Unit, College of Policing

Public Order & Public Safety Policing
Dr Clifford Stott, University of Leeds
Supt. Owen West, Insp. Richard Cawkwell; Chief Insp. Derek Hughes and Supt. Dave Lunn, West Yorkshire Police.

A review of the conference is also available on the PolicingInsight website, written by PhD student Sean Butcher

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