EMPAC Fellows have had their Christmas welcome at Nottingham Trent University and now the hard work begins!
Amy Rutland of Leicestershire Police, who worked with Loughborough University, as EMPAC’s first Fellow, told the new cohort that it was a “great opportunity to have an evidence base and be heard”.
Coming from a diversity of roles across all five forces in the east Midlands, EMPAC Fellows now have the opportunity to develop their critical research understanding, work with a academic mentor and scope a piece of work related research. The work programme will continue after the Christmas break when the Fellows will meet again on the 10th January, this time at the University of Derby, when the College of Policing will help deliver sessions on policing research.
Fellows are a crucial part of EMPAC and can be traced to its core mission. EMPAC was borne through the vision of ACC Phil Kay as a collaboration model for police forces and universities to work together in the East Midlands, just as they were already doing in Scotland (under SIPR). The Police Knowledge Fund, which is funded by the Home Office via the College of Policing and HEFCE, crystallised progress and set in play 20 projects, under thematic leads, to produce research products for dissemination.
But the fundamental significance of EMPAC is not necessarily just what it produces but how it goes about producing it – through collaboration. This means there is a growing relationship and inter connection between institutions and work streams with value added mutual goals.
EMPAC wanted to recruit 20 interested policing professionals to take an in depth look at a particular policing issue for insights, improvements and innovation. To facilitate this, Fellows have tailored workshops to explain the research process and pair up with an academic mentor to coach the continuing process. The Fellows’ research product, underpinned by academic rigour, then aims to impact on professional practice.
So Fellowships, and EMPAC as a whole, is a transformational change programme.
EMPAC Fellows will be a bridge between policing and universities. They come from the workplace, they stay in the workplace, yet become practitioner researchers. Fellowships are about research literacy (some call this research mindedness) – knowing how research works and its uses – and having a handle on what it looks like, how it operates, what might be appropriate in each case and what to do with it after.
This means Fellows will think critically and ask questions more. That is not a failure; this does not mean they are faulty! It means they are doing what they should do. Research is about asking questions to understand better and add to knowledge. The opportunity is to allow that growth to continue by the Fellows influencing colleagues around them. The ‘So What?’for Fellows is how they are; it’s not just about poducing a one-off report.
Hardyal Dhindsa, Derbyshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner said in his key note address at the Fellowship launch, “EMPAC Fellowships are a practical way of embedding a sustainable culture of what works in policing. Policing is too complex and important to be left to chance, so the more we know the better we can make decisions, the better we can protect people and attack criminality. I wish all the new Fellows well and look forward to seeing the benefits of their contribution now and for a long time to come. Driving innovation and improved policing for our region is what EMPAC is all about and Fellows are a vital part of that collaboration.”
Research is a way of thinking: Fellows will help embed this in policing. The collaboration amongst the police forces and universities through Fellowships represents sustainable change for policing in the East Midlands and beyond for good.