EMPAC is delighted to be able to welcome back Dr Laura Knight, this time as a Senior Research Fellow. Laura’s story is entwined with that of the founding of EMPAC and there is much to be thankful for in her past contributions yet even more to look forward to in the future.
In 2014, whilst working for the Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Knight was one of the first members of EMPAC, supporting the coming together of policing and research under the leadership of then ACC Phil Kay. Laura continued her involvement in EMPAC in her role at the Institute for Public Safety, Crime and Justice (IPSCJ) at the University of Northampton where she supported the collaborative bid to achieve funding from the College of Policing and HEFCE Police Knowledge Fund. She was a member of the EMPAC Board from 2014 to 2019 and supported several research and evaluation projects, including leading the EMPAC research into police use of digital evidence, with Detective Sergeant Mark Booth.
Prior to this, Laura began her career in research and performance management in Northamptonshire Police, moving to strategy and policy development, leading programmes across evidence-based policing, victims services, violence prevention and road safety for the Northamptonshire PCC. During this time, she completed her PhD with the University of Leicester, exploring the relationship between policing and faith communities, addressing issues including hate crime, counter-terrorism policy impacts and police cultures.
Between 2015 and 2020 Laura became the Director of the Institute for Public Safety, Crime and Justice (IPSCJ) a collaboration between the University of Northampton, Northamptonshire Police and PCC. She led research, evaluation and impact studies across volunteering in policing, early intervention, violence prevention, mental health in the criminal justice system, frontline experiences, and more. Laura collaborated with colleagues to deliver projects addressing civic action, community leadership and volunteering in policing in the United States, Canada, Japan, Kenya and Uganda. During this time Laura became an advisor to the Minister of State for Policing and the Fire Service for the Home Office Frontline Review and was a board member for the NPCC Citizens in Policing Strategic Board.
In 2020 Laura moved to the public health and humanitarian aid sector, to lead Elrha’s (subsidiary of Save the Children) global impact programme, designing and implementing a new monitoring, evaluation, accountability and learning strategy for their global research and innovation.
Laura’s work continues in evaluating the delivery and impact of intersectoral, place-based leadership development to reduce urban violence in Kenya and Uganda. She is also supporting Police Rewired, a community for volunteer professionals – developers, designers, researchers, academics, and students working on projects addressing public safety and crime. She was a judge at the Police Rewired 2019 ‘Hack the Police 4’ hackathon and supported the 2020 ‘Hack Hate’ hackathon, both engaging several police forces and voluntary agencies.
EMPAC now looks forward to working with Laura on a number of specialist contributions – watch this space!