The College of Policing teamed up with West Midlands Police last week to run the first-ever research fair in UK policing.
A research fair is like a matchmaking service or market for knowledge and resources, involving an exchange of ‘wants’ and ‘offers’. The aim of last week’s event was to develop stronger partnerships between the police and local universities, and to develop and share the evidence base of ‘what works’ in policing.
So West Midlands Police’s Tally Ho! training centre in Edgbaston became a bustling marketplace as local universities came to share their research interests and expertise, and to look at West Midlands Police research priorities. Researchers, lecturers and students asked questions of officers and police staff, and volunteered to take on ‘advertised’ research questions.
Behind the scenes, our staff had worked alongside West Midlands Police’s ACC Marcus Beale and Superintendent Alex Murray (who is also Chair of the Society for Evidence Based Policing) to develop the concept and turn it into a reality. West Midlands Police officers and staff worked closely with College researchers to refine research questions based on their strategic priorities, which included:
Designing out crime – a comparison of crime reporting during the Birmingham Christmas Market, contrasting the market’s original layout with the new layout which was suggested by the police crime reduction department.
Hate crime - how effective are the police at identifying victims of hate crime?
Young people at risk - what is effective in Sandwell local policing unit’s youth referral process to partner agencies, and what is the response?
Engagement – what are the characteristics of the West Midlands transient population? (For example, where they are from, why they stay in the area, how they engage with the police, and factors influencing levels and types of engagement.)
Superintendent Alex Murray said:
“This was an exciting event – you could feel the enthusiasm on all sides. As evidence-based policing just becomes normal practice, I look forward to this happening across the country.”
College researchers will now work with West Midlands Police to collate the wants and offers made at the research fair, share details of planned work online, and ensure that the outputs can be used to inform decision-making. This support should ensure the first cycle of research will pave the way for future events.
We are also writing up the experience into a guide on how to conduct a research fair, for other forces that might be interested. For more information, contact