Strategic Management through Evidence‑Based Policing

This course provides students with an understanding of key concepts surrounding Evidence-Based Policing. Through the course, students will learn how to strategically use research evidence to inform management and decision-making. They will become effective consumers, producers and commissioners of research evidence within public policing, and be prepared to support adoption of strategic uses of research within their own police services. The course will first introduce the basic principles underpinning the movement toward evidence-based policing – which connect to improved effectiveness as well as the status of policing as a ‘profession’ – and describes the kinds of research problems that EBP can address (as well as its limitations). In the second unit, the course provides participants with an overview of research methods and research design relevant to EBP, and teaches course participants how to critically engage with research and researchers. In the third unit, the course undertakes in-depth reviews of key areas of research literature in EBP, examining well-established bodies of evidence and how these have been applied to practical changes in police work. The course closes with a unit looking at this process of practical application of research evidence – a process called ‘knowledge translation’ – and encourages students to consider the complex processes involved in changing police practice in sustainable and evidence-based ways. Throughout the course, exercises will be oriented toward developing participants’ capabilities in applying research questions to their own police services, and through discussions and exercises students will iteratively develop a research-based approach to addressing a policing ‘problem’ with which they have professional experience.

The course content will be at a university undergraduate level, and suitable for students with a basic prior understanding of general principles of research in the sciences or social sciences. Additional preparatory readings will be made available to students wishing to take this course but do not have any prior college or university education.

Key learnings

After successfully completing this course, learners will be able to:

  • provide a working definition of ‘Evidence-based policing’ and differentiate this from other related concepts such as ‘problem-oriented’ and ‘intelligence-led’ policing.
  • differentiate between sources of information and evidence, such as anecdotal, experiential, qualitative, quantitative, systematic, experimental, and so on.
  • differentiate research and evidence by its strength and applicability to a specific problem.
  • understand the differences between ‘best practice’ and ‘promising practice.’
  • develop a research question and identify the kinds of information needed to answer that question.
  • be aware of the range of ways in which other police services have used research to inform strategic management and decision-making, as well as times when data has been mis-used.
  • identify and use research resources, such as policing research databases and professional networks, to identify the best available evidence on policing strategies, tactics and interventions.
  • create a research partnership with external researchers.
  • apply research evidence to policing problems.