Guideline 2: Solving problems

​Chief officers should ensure officers, staff and volunteers use structured problem-solving to deal with local priorities, working collaboratively with communities and, where appropriate, private, public and voluntary sector partners.

Essential elements include:
  • A focus on proactive prevention

  • Systematic use of a structured problem-solving process, such as SARA (scanning, analysis, response, assessment)

  • Detailed problem specifications based on multiple sources of information

  • Involving communities in each stage of the problem-solving process

  • Using evidence-based and innovative responses that target the underlying causes of problems and are tailored to local context

  • Routinely assessing the impact of responses and sharing good practice

  • Integration with other parts of the organisation to support its delivery

  • Working with partners (eg, by sharing data and analytical resource and delivering responses).

Problem solving in neighbourhoods should:
  • enable police and partners to address long-term issues affecting communities and provide reassurance

  • reduce demand on the police service and partners.

Advice and support: putting guidelines into practice

Depending on your role and interest, select the relevant link(s) to find out about advice and support for solving problems.

Supporting material for frontline officers, staff and volunteers
Supporting material for supervisors
Supporting material for senior leaders

Impact evidence for solving problems

The guideline and advice and support for solving problems are underpinned by the following impact evidence:

  • Using a structured process to understand and tackle the root causes of local problems, the police can reduce crime and disorder overall and in a variety of situations.
  • Problem solving in hot spots was more effective than increased police presence in hot spots at reducing crime.
  • Community problem solving was more effective than aggressive enforcement when policing disorder.
  • While a targeted police presence can reduce crime in the short term, problem solving can have a much larger impact in the longer term.
  • The public’s involvement in identifying and defining the problems has been identified as a key element of successful neighbourhood policing programmes
     and initiatives that aim to deter high-risk offenders by targeting enforcement and support that offers a pathway out of crime.  

Key: Type of evidence
​■■■Evidence from systematic reviews – exhaustive reviews of quantitative studies – selected for their relevance and methods – that make overall assessments of 'what worked' in a range of contexts.
​■■Evidence from rapid evidence assessments – time-limited reviews of studies – selected for their relevance and methods – that provide general overviews of the literature on impact and implementation issues.
​■Evidence from impact evaluations – quantitative studies that make assessments of 'what worked' in particular contexts.
​●Evidence from other research – studies that provide insights on implementation or other issues in particular contexts.


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