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Identifying existing systematic reviews within the crime reduction area

What Works Centre for Crime Reduction: Commissioned Partnership Programme, Work Package 1

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Research institution

University College London.

Principal researcher

Professor Kate Bowers.

Level of research


Project start date

September 2013.

Research context

The aim of the Commissioned Partnership Programme is to contribute to the development of a stronger evidence base for crime reduction, thus providing Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) and other crime reduction stakeholders with the knowledge, tools and guidance to help them target their resources more effectively and reduce crime.

The programme will deliver research to support the What Works Centre for Crime Reduction over nine work packages. It will do this by:

  • mapping and assessing the quality of the evidence base
  • ranking and labelling interventions in terms of quality, cost and impact
  • training practitioners on evidence appraisal and evaluating the Centre's overall effectiveness.

Work Package 1 is specifically concerned with the identification of existing systematic reviews of what works in crime reduction. The research will involve an extensive trawl of existing published literature, including the grey literature not necessarily found in journals. It will identify the research using an agreed search strategy (the protocol) and list it by categories.


  1. the search strategy and protocol
  2. a comprehensive database of existing systematic reviews.


The search strategy will be developed with specialist information scientists and will be piloted and tested with subject matter experts in the field. The search protocol will be subject to peer review and published online. This will use an adapted form of a standard validated filter for systematic reviews, drawing on InterTASC guidance, which is designed to maximise sensitivity and broadly cluster terms related to policing and crime prevention. Search sources will include standard crime-focused databases (e.g. National Criminal Justice Reference Service and Criminal Justice Abstracts) and databases from related fields (e.g. social policy and practice).

We will produce an overview map of all systematic reviews in relevant fields, regardless of the types of data included. The map will clearly document the methodological procedures used, the conclusions drawn and the basis on which they are formed as well as the topic, date and jurisdiction.

Relevant subject matter will include (but will not be restricted to) reviews in:

  1. developmental and social prevention
  2. correctional interventions
  3. drug treatment interventions
  4. policing
  5. sentencing and deterrence
  6. community interventions
  7. situational prevention.

These subjects reflect the diverse ranges of practitioners involved in crime reduction. 

Interim findings

Not available.

Date due for completion

May 2014.