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Evidence-based policing

About evidence-based policing and evidence champions – with links to supporting resources.

Evidence-based policing (EBP) means that the best available evidence is used to inform and challenge policing policies, practices and decisions.

An EBP approach can be used by everyone in policing. It can be supported by collaboration with academics and other partners. 

Research to support EBP

The best available evidence will use appropriate research methods and sources for the question being asked.

Research can be used to:

  • develop a better understanding of an issue – by describing the nature, extent and possible causes of a problem or looking at how a change was implemented
  • assess the effect of a policing intervention – by testing the impact of a new initiative in a specific context or exploring the possible consequences of a change in policing

Research should be carefully conducted, peer reviewed and transparent about its methods, limitations and how its conclusions were reached. The theoretical basis and context of the research should also be made clear.

Where there is little or no formal research, other evidence may be regarded as the best available, if it is gathered and documented in a careful and transparent way. This could include professional consensus and peer review.

Critical thinking

EBP does not provide definitive answers.

Officers, staff and volunteers should reflect on their practice, consider how the best available evidence applies to their day-to-day work and learn from their successes and failures.

This approach encourages everyone to ask questions, challenge accepted practices and innovate in the public interest.

Evidence champions' network

The evidence champions' network is a forum for evidence champions. It is an informal group, facilitated by the College but owned by its members. It allows members to raise issues, ask questions and collaborate with other forces.

Evidence champions are police officers or staff in English and Welsh forces, who have a focus on EBP.

The role varies across police forces but evidence champions might:

  • have a full-time role developing EBP within their force
  • be partly responsible for promoting and supporting EBP locally as part of their formal role
  • not have any formal responsibility for EBP in their force, but maintain an interest and involvement in developing EPB-based approaches

Evidence champions carry out a number of activities according to their role, including:

  • developing local EBP strategies and identifying priority areas for research
  • engaging with staff to explain the principles of EBP and how they can use it
  • conducting research and collaborating with partner academic institutions on research projects

If you are interested in joining the network or would like to contact your evidence champion, email [email protected]

Online resources

Building trust with communities

In collaboration with the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Training Academy, the Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy at George Mason University has created this free training resource to help law enforcement identify positive ways forward in the effort to improve and restore trust with the communities they serve.

Campbell Collaboration

The Campbell Collaboration is an international research network that produces systematic reviews of the effects of social interventions in crime and justice, education, international development and social welfare. The network believes that a systematic and rigorous approach to research synthesis improves the knowledge base for decisions on policy and practice.

Center for Evidence-Based Management

The Center for Evidence-Based Management (CEBMa) is an independent, non-profit foundation that provides support and education to managers, leaders, consultants, teachers and others who want to enhance their understanding of how an evidence-based approach helps people in organisations make better decisions.

Cost-Benefit Knowledge Bank for Criminal Justice

Helping practitioners to carry out cost-benefit studies and apply cost-benefit analysis to policy and practice.

Crime reduction toolkit

The crime reduction toolkit summarises the best-available research evidence on what works to reduce crime. It allows users to see the impact of different interventions on crime and understand how they work, where they work, how to implement them and their cost. 

Evidence-Based Policing Matrix

A translation tool, hosted in the George Mason University's Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy (CEBCP). It maps research findings visually to show what works and provides access to the details of every study.

Global Policing Database (GPD)

The Evidence and Insight Team from the Mayor's Office for Policing And Crime (MOPAC) has worked with experts from the University of Queensland to develop the Global Policing Database. This is a web-based, searchable database designed to capture all experimental and quasi-experimental evaluations of policing interventions conducted since 1950.

Problem-oriented policing resources

Access to a huge range of resources for crime and ASB problem-solving developed in the USA, hosted by the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing.

Society of Evidence Based Policing (SEBP)

The Society of Evidence Based Policing is run by EBP enthusiasts alongside their roles as practitioners and academics. The society is made up of police officers, police staff, and research professionals who aim to make evidence based methodology part of everyday policing in the UK. 

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