By supporting PhD studentships, N8 PRP aims to build collaborative research projects between academic and police partners. This means the knowledge and expertise of Higher Education can strengthen the evidence base of police policy, practice and training, supporting innovations that better serve communities.
Interested in a PhD in policing research?
Each N8 PRP institution has Academic Lead who will be able to give guidance on applying for a PhD at their institution. Their research profiles and email addresses can be found here.
Completed PhD Studentships
As part of the Catalyst grant (2016-2020), the partnership has supported nine collaborative PhD studentships. Each of the N8 PRP institutions registered one PGR funded for three years, benefiting from advanced training, methods and skills development provided by the three Doctoral Training Centres (DTCs) that make up the N8. In line with the ESRC collaborative model of studentship, the projects were designed in conjunction with the policing partners and entailed substantive knowledge exchange components.
Joint working between social work and the police
Researcher: Lindsey Youansamouth
Principal Supervisor: Dr Ian Paylor
This project enhances the impact of HE research in the policing sector through the development and testing of mechanisms of knowledge exchange to strengthen the evidence base on which police policy, practice and learning are developed and so support innovation and the professionalization of policing. Policing provides a fertile terrain in which to forge new interdisciplinary research synergies both within the social sciences and across science, technology and engineering and to create productive innovations and societal impacts. It is hoped that the project will also improve knowledge mobilisation and impact by getting the best evidence to the appropriate policing decision formats and in a timely fashion to influence decision-making thus informing the possible transferability of learning from the police sector to other public services and sectors within and beyond the UK. The proposal aligns closely with the ESRC strategic priorities in seeking to promote research excellence with impact and societal benefits.
Police Understandings of Community Engagement
University of Liverpool
Researcher: Lisa Weston
Supervisors: Dr Mike Rowe and Dr Liz Turner
Since 2010, the policing landscape has been overwhelmingly impacted by broader societal, political, structural and financial changes. In the face of reduced resources, continued demand and the changing nature of crime, police forces are expected to make changes on a radical scale. The ensuing complexity of the police task has led to scholars and policing bodies speculating about an inevitable transition in the role and practices of the police to adapt and work effectively. Within this debate, appeals are made to safeguarding locally responsive policing functions, including those delivered through the mechanism of ‘community engagement’.
In policing literature, it is acknowledged that ‘community engagement’ is not a straightforward concept to define. It is officially understood as a process of involving citizens in policing which can range from providing information to the public to empowering people to identify and implement solutions to local problems and influence strategic priorities. However, recent research highlights that police forces understand and practice ‘community engagement’ in many different ways. The absence of clarity around ‘community engagement’ work is further emphasized by the lack of insight into how police officers understand and structure the approach in their day-to-day work.
In light of the current climate of policing and the ambiguous nature of ‘community engagement’ work, the project aimed to develop incomplete insights that exist about this area of practice at officer level. The research will be an exploratory study of police officers, Police Community Support and Traffic Officers (PCSTOs) and other police staff working in frontline roles in the course of their duties to gain insight into their perspectives and experiences of ‘community engagement’.
Improving techniques to facilitate information retrieval during investigative interviews of suspected sex offenders
Researcher: Gary Pankhurst
Principal Supervisor: Dr Gavin E Oxburgh
Obtaining detailed and reliable information from suspects of sexual offences is essential for criminal investigations. However, some interviewing officers find conducting interviews with such suspects very stressful (particularly offences against children). Although some research has found that using an empathic style of interviewing will yield more information, there is limited empirical research examining this style of interviewing and its efficacy during the interview process, especially if the interviewee has a mental health disorder or learning disability.
In a police context, empathy is not just about ‘showing’ empathy to the interviewee. It is also about having the ability to ‘understand’ the perspective of the interviewee, to appreciate the emotions and distress of the interviewee, and to communicate that directly (or indirectly) to them.
The focus of this PhD project was on the development of advanced investigative interviewing techniques to facilitate more effective information retrieval from this cohort. To do this, the student drew upon: (i) Relevant theory relating to empathy and rapport-building; (ii) Current psychological theory on sexual offending, mental health disorders and learning disabilities (LD), and (iii) Psychological developments in investigative interviewing research.
Assessing the impacts of police use of body-worn video on public-police relations
University of Leeds
Researcher: Delcan Falconer
Principal Supervisor: Stuart Lister
This collaborative studentship studied the impacts of police use of Body-Worn Video (BWV) on public-police relations. Enabled by the growth of digital technology, the wearing of highly portable BWV cameras by police officers has a range of potential benefits. These include enhanced public reassurance, confidence and satisfaction with the police, greater reduction and detection of crime and disorder incidents, greater police efficiency and effectiveness, enhanced police accountability and transparency and so fewer complaints against the police. In this context, a growing number of UK police forces have invested significantly in this innovative technology. West Yorkshire Police has recently invested almost £3 million to equip all its front-line staff with BWV for the purpose of recording encounters between police officers and citizens in the context of actual or suspected crime and disorder incidents.
Working closely with West Yorkshire Police, this studentship explored the impact of BWV on how policing is delivered and experienced. It interrogated the contexts in which BWV is used by police, how it effects the decision-making and conduct both of police officers and those citizens being recorded (or who perceive they may be being recorded) within encounters.
The research collected a range of data on:
- the organisational policies governing the use of BWV by those frontline officers;
- its use by police officers;
- its reception among the public;
- its wider impacts for the police force.
The project adopted a mixed method approach, including interviews and observations with police and citizens in order to collect data on a range of potential outcomes arising from BWV including; its impact on the level of public complaints against police officers, use of force by police officers, assaults on police, public confidence and satisfaction with police. Consequently, the project generated a wide range of learning that will inform future policy and practice of this highly important policing innovation.
Responding to risk through police partnerships
University of Sheffield
Researcher: Alice Corbally
Principal Supervisor: Dr Layla Skinns
The purpose of this PhD was to examine the form, extent and usefulness of police partnerships as a way of responding to risk. The PhD will focus on one of the following topics:
- Police partnerships responding to risks to children and young people
- Police partnerships and mental disorder
- Police partnerships and drug-related harms
- Risk, police partnerships and organisational change
Developing a Human Rights-Based Approach to Football Policing in England and Wales
University of Manchester
Researcher: Martin Browne
Principal Supervisor: Dr Geoff Pearson
Football crowds pose a regular public order challenge to police forces in England and Wales, with a number of incidents of serious violence and disorder occurring each season. Football policing must have the capacity to respond to, and prevent, such incidents. However, there have been a number of instances where policing has been criticised as disproportionately restricting the rights of non-violent fans.
This project was developed in partnership with Greater Manchester Police who have the responsibility for regularly managing numerous large football events. The PhD student will work with GMP’s football policing unit and focus on the following:
- The UK’s Human Rights framework, including European treaties and conventions, domestic legislation, case law, and legal and academic commentary.
- Academic and policing literature, including Home Office and College of Policing guidelines, relating to POPS policing and the management of football crowds.
- Academic literature on football crowd behaviour and disorder.
Assessing the Potential of Problem Based Learning in Police Training
University of York
Researcher: Chloe James
Principal Supervisor: Patrick Gallimore
The project aimed to explore the value of Problem Based Learning methods in initial police training. Problem Based Learning has been developed in other professional training in the UK (specifically medicine and nursing) and in police training in other jurisdictions. The aim of the project was therefore to evaluate existing initial police training pedagogy in a UK policing context. It will also involve the devising and delivering of Problem Based Learning methods for some or all training of those entering or intending to enter police forces and then to evaluate these initiatives. It is intended that the PhD will contribute to existing scholarship and practices in police training.
The project used:
- A mixed methods evaluation (qualitative, quantitative) of current initial police training practice;
- An extended review of the literature on PBL theory, PBL methodologies and the ability of PBL techniques to meet claims for effective adult learning generally and specifically within the context of policing;
- Identification of appropriate research instruments with which to evaluate PBL interventions;
- Development of applied PBL techniques designed specifically for initial police training programmes (whether within North Yorkshire or otherwise);
- Access to police training programmes in order to test PBL interventions.
Evaluation of Mobile Systems & Mobile Analytics
University of Leeds
Researcher: Daniel Pugh
Principal Supervisor: Professor David Allen
Mobile data systems have been and continue to be an area of significant investment for UK Police Forces. Research undertaken by Allen and Norman indicates that in 2003 47% of police services in England and Wales had invested in mobile data systems, this had increased to 75% in 2006 and by 2012 all police services were actively engaged in deploying some form of mobile data system. Despite this activity and the significant investment it entailed the effective evaluation of the influence of these information systems on the performance of policing has been and remains a problematic area for the services. Evaluation is often not undertaken or is carried out ineffectively or inefficiently and best practice does not seem to be effectively transferred between forces. Information System (IS) evaluation has been identified as a problem not only for the police but also within the wider public sector in the UK and as a ‘thorny problem’ for scholarship.
The current generation of mobile systems being deployed within UK police services provide new forms of data which can be used to evaluate the influence these systems have on the performance of policing. These include location data, social media transactions, electronic notebooks or data drawn from the use of body worn cameras. While there is emerging practice within the police services in the use of analytics to understand such transactional data this remains embryonic. Equally, the use of mobile systems also illuminates data that was gathered but was unavailable or inaccessible to analysis. This data can now be used to measure or understand performance. Few of these are, however, incorporated into ‘conventional’ evaluation models and processes.
The purpose of this study was to understand and explore the mechanisms by which forces are evaluating their mobile systems and the measures and data sources that they are using. An in depth exploration of practice in the nominated force will allow for the development of more effective approaches to evaluation and, through action research, the validation of these in a practice setting.
Combining the expertise of the White Rose Universities, the DTC delivers excellent supervision, first class training and a vibrant intellectual environment for postgraduate research students, the DTC enables PhD students to participate in national and international networks of industrial partners, opinion formers, policy makers and academics. It aims to produce doctoral graduates with outstanding skills and flexibility.
As a member of the DTC you will also:
- be part of a vibrant and growing community of social science researchers
- discover that it is easier to link and network with academics and student researchers both from within your discipline and beyond
- be offered a range of broad based training opportunities
- have increased access to training courses throughout the UK.
The North West Doctoral Training Centre (NWDTC) is the largest Economic and Social Research Centre (ESRC) funded DTC in England, awarding a minimum of 63 new postgraduate studentships per year to support research and training at master’s and doctoral level.
The NWDTC is one of 21 DTCs in the UK and brings together the Universities of Lancaster, Liverpool and Manchester. Studentships are available across the full range of social science disciplines and students have access to research expertise across the three constituent Universities.
The North West DTC has been accredited between three institutions:
NINE DTP is a exciting new collaboration between seven universities producing world-class research across the full range of social science disciplines. NINE DTP builds upon the previous North East Doctoral Training Centre.
NINE provides an opportunity for you to be part of a community of academic excellence which is shaping the global future of social sciences while engaging with the challenges in our local communities.
Data Analytics and Society is an ESRC funded Centre for Doctoral Training which will provide postgraduate research and training for 52 students across 4 Universities:
- University of Leeds
- University of Liverpool
- University of Manchester
- University of Sheffield
The CDT will encourage significant advances which bring together social science with methods from computing, mathematics and the natural sciences.