Leicestershire Police Problem Solving Conference success

The 3rd annual Leicestershire Police EBP conference was a great event and EMPAC is pleased to report on key aspects here. The event was opened by the Chief Constable, Simon Cole, and closed by Deputy Chief Constable Rob Nixon.  The powerhouse behind the conference is Sergeant Mark Brennan, who has driven a grass roots enthusiasm about research amongst hundreds of policing professionals in Leicestershire. Mark and his team were in fact EMPAC’s first ever award winner for making an outstanding contribution to policing professionalism through research back in 2018. Mark himself presented an input at this year’s event on problem solving robberies in parks.

Leicestershire Police have refreshed their problem solving strategy recently making a commitment to record all of their problem solving on Niche using a SARA problem solving template, which was explained by Chief /Insp Sian Walls. This has already identified learning from individual case studies which was shared at the conference. Also on the day was a blend of academic keynote addresses with practitioner experiences reporting back on applied cases. For those of you not lucky enough to have been there let’s have a look over some of the specific ideas and insights presented.

Dr Matt Ashby, of Nottingham Trent University discussed problem solving as legal and ethical action to prevent a specific type of crime, harm or disorder in a specific place so that fewer crimes happen, and the problem doesn’t reappear. He explained how it was essential to make a problem easier to solve by progressively making it more specific. The by use of useful models such as EPIC – the combination of tactics involving Enforcement, Prevention, Information and Communication. By way of illustration, Dr Ashby reported on success in Operation Pioneer, concerning theft from motor vehicles where offenders were targeting power tools.

Professor Geoff Berry gave an overview of the key background of problem solving approaches in policing. This include the seminal work by Pease and Farrell (2001) and the uses of SARA (scan, analysis, response, assessment) and PAT (Problem Analysis Triangle) in applications in Leicester, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk in youth engagement and diversion. Then there was discussion, using a number of applications from ASB to cross border vehicle crime, on how to measure success.   Professor Berry highlighted an approach from Durham Constabulary: ““Your objective is not to ‘reduce demand on police resources’, it’s the effect the problem is having on victims, which then places a demand on police resources. Having defined an objective, you need to identify how you’re going to measure its success”. Professor Berry included a blend of the old with the new by discussing some of the latest thinking on problem solving models – using SPATIAL (scan, prioritise, analyse, task, intervene, assess, learn) – as well as long standing things to be cautious of, such as solving one problem to then cause another!

There were a variety of inputs from practitioners as well as academics, with Barney Thorne, Safeguarding Partnership Manager and Suicide Prevention Lead for Leicestershire Police discussing problem solving around real-time suicide intelligence. Acting Inspector Alistair Jones of Hertfordshire Constabulary reported on progress in problems solving ASB at weekends in fast-food restaurants in Borehamwood. Here an ASBAG (antisocial behaviour action group) comprised police, housing, schools, CSP and Environmental Health worked together on a number of tactics including playing classical music, switching off wi-fi and community protections orders, that, used together, has seen incidents drop dramatically

There has been a term coined of ‘pracademic’ to describe a practitioner who is also engaged in research at the same time to order to improve professional practice. At the event, such an example of this could be seen in PC Lucy Chafer of Leicestershire Police who reported on problem solving work she had done which had been supported by Master’s research she was conducting, whilst seconded to a police change team. The problem solving here was all about increasing the cooperative efficiency of agencies concerning adults at risk within safeguarding thresholds. The problem solving reinforced the importance of effective communication across agencies, delivered through things like Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hubs (MASH) and the potential benefits of new People Zone research in Leicestershire, which integrates MASH work as business as usual.

You can read some of the commentary of the event at #LeicEBP2019. The 4th conference in 2020 is already in the planning so if you would like to go along get in touch with mark.brennan@leicestershire.police.uk.

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