EMPAC fellows have set hard to work after their Christmas Welcome Event. Fellows gathered at the Policing Institute at the University of Derby on the 10th January for a workshop introduction to research and evidence based practice.
EMPAC Fellows have a very diverse set of backgrounds. They range across ranks and roles – from neighbourhood policing to Special Branch; from Police Support Volunteering to serious organised crime. The topics of interest are just as varied, from domestic violence to psychoactive substances; from cyber victimisation to campus radicalisation. Fellows will disseminate their research via the EMPAC web in due course, yet a longer term sustainability will come from Fellows influencing their colleagues and organisations in taking a more research-minded approach for the long term.
EMPAC has been keen to offer a flexible route forward for Fellows and seek to learn how to best support research development for staff for this and future cohorts. Dave Hill, EMPAC’s Director – “One of the many benefits EMPAC has as a police-led, multi-force, multi-university collaboration is that we have huge diversity across practitioners and research topics and we aren’t restricted to a single university solution; we can take from a variety of things best suited to helping policing.”
This time around, several Universities offered alternatives routes for Fellows to opt for. Nottingham Trent University offered a new Post Graduate Certificate in Policing Research involving a structured taught programme leading to an assessed research project. Dr Becky Thompson explained, “We’ve developed this brand new programme specifically for EMPAC Fellows – it’s a cutting edge product that gives both a solid grounding in methods and ethics and offers up the chance for a research topic to be developed in the second module.” Already several Fellows have signed up for a February start
The University of Derby has offered a flexible distance learn approach leading to 60 credits at Level 7. Professor Kevin Bampton said, “it’s ideal that we have a mixed offer for Fellows so that a variety of backgrounds, capacity and ambition can be catered for. We can learn a lot from this process as well for the future of professional police accreditation at a national level.”
The University of Northampton has offered an undergraduate level introduction for research methods for those needing a more entry level or refresher. Dr Laura Knight explained, “there are many skilled practitioners in policing but because of the way the service has been structured around qualifications in the past many people don’t happen to have externally recognised qualifications. That is now changing and we are able to help build practitioner’s confidence to branch out into research with a little guidance and support.”
There is also the option to go for a non-accredited route, which means the Fellow gets on with their research based on existing skills, supported by an academic mentor with a view to workplace impact and publication.
Detective Chief Superintendent Chris Davison said, “the event was great – it gave an introduction to the overview of research and explained the ‘what next’ options of our research”.
The College of Policing (picture features Sarah Colovor of the College of Policing) gave a tailored input on evidence based practice and the ‘What Works’ Centre, explaining what support there is for professionals undertaking research. PC Richard O’Connor said, ”it was really interesting to hear about research and evidence base issues – I think many more people in policing should be aware of such things and we can help spread the word.”
EMPAC Fellows are being supported by other events, such as Loughborough University hosting a masterclass on research methods, led by Dr Karen Lumsden, Dr Alex Black and Professor Paul Drew. EMPAC Fellow Sarah Virr, Criminal Justice Data Manager for Lincolnshire, said, “the event at Loughborough was a great help, cutting through much complexity and tailoring things to what we need to know to do work-based research”.
Fellows over the next few weeks will be continuing to hone and develop their skills and launch into their research journey. Stay tuned for further updates!