Practitioner research

EMPAC is all about bringing research and professional practice closer together. In order to accelerate and encourage practitioners to get hands-on with research, we created a Fellowship programme. This was a great success and received noteworthy praise from the College of Policing in their national Police Knowledge Fund evaluation.

Practitioner researchers – sometimes known as ‘pracademics’ – carry on with their day job but also get involved with research, often to help improve service delivery.

Our very first Fellow was DC Amy Rutland of Leicestershire Police, who researched aspects of modern slavery and human trafficking at Loughborough University. You can see Amy talk about her research here: – http://www.empac.org.uk/video-empac-fellowship-modern-slavery/ .

Amy was closely followed by several more Fellows and you can see a selection of them here talking about their various research in short video clips: – http://www.empac.org.uk/spotlight-empac-fellows/.

EMPAC worked with several universities to enable Fellowships. For example, Dr Becky Thompson, Senior Lecturer at Nottingham Trent University, led the development of a new and hugely successful post graduate programme, tailored to policing practitioners.

Many of our Fellows have had their research featured both on our EMPAC web and also in Police Professional, the UK’s largest selling policing publication.  In addition, some EMPAC Fellows presented their work at the European Society of Criminology’s prestigious Annual Conference. This event attracted speakers and delegates from all over Europe, including the National Crime Agency, Home Office and Jorg Monar from the College of Europe.

Three EMPAC Fellow practitioner researchers went along – Alex Paradise of the East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU), and Liz Perry and Mo Behl both of Leicestershire Police.  The Fellows spoke about the research they had conducted through their EMPAC fellowship – diverse topics ranging from the psychology of the Special Constabulary, the protection of domestic violence victims and preventing drug-related harm in the night-time economy.

Alex Paradise, of EMSOU, said,

“It was a real privilege to be invited to speak at a European Conference. Over the four days I had a chance to meet researchers, trainers and police officers from across Europe and beyond. It was great to be able to speak about the research I will be conducting and field questions from researchers who are experts in the field.

I also learnt quite a lot at the conference on a range of topics, from cyber offending to domestic violence and drug trafficking. The highlight for me was listening to a panel on Criminal Networks and Cybercrime. This included talks by Johnathan Lusthaus, the Director of the Human Cybercriminal Project at the University of Oxford and Edwin Kruisbergen from the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice. Having a researcher and someone directly involved in cyber investigations gave the panel different perspectives on the topic. It was interesting to learn about some of the identified bottlenecks of cyber offending which create opportunities for the police”.

Liz Perry, of Leicestershire Police, commented,

“It was fantastic to have an opportunity to talk about the policing research being conducted through EMPAC and to introduce my study. I enjoyed helping present the positive impact that the organisation is having by developing researchers. I enjoyed going into an unfamiliar environment and the experience has really helped develop ideas I have about how research could be implemented into my role in the future”.

Mo Behl, of Leicestershire Police, added,

“Attending this conference was a really interesting experience. I can’t imagine if I would have ever done something like this if I had not been part of EMPAC. I had a chance to listen to some cutting-edge research into domestic violence and other topics, which I think will give me a greater understanding of offending and victims. I hope to take this experience and use it to help me in my day job.

It was also interesting to hear the other researcher practitioners speak. Whilst there are similarities and differences between how each of us view the future of evidence-based policy in policing, it has been great to spend time with likeminded people who have a positive view of the future of policing”.

Congratulations to all our EMPAC Fellows past and present, and here’s hoping other practitioners will be inspired to also be a part of research and improve policing for the future. EMPAC continues to encourage and mentor practitioner researchers and you can find tailored materials to introduce research in our Resources and Learning section :- http://www.empac.org.uk/learning-centre-categories/how-to-do-research/

Main picture (L-R): Dr Becky Thompson, (NTU), Mo Behl (Leicestershire Police), Liz Perry (Leicestershire Police) & Alex Paradise (EMSOU).

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