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Roads policing reimagined – intentions, expectations and experiences of a new roads policing tasking methodology

This project will explore ways to combine human and technological capacity within roads policing to ensure that any future operating model is as effective as possible and evidence-based.

Key details

Lead institution
Principal researcher(s)
Craig Arnold
Police region
West Midlands
Collaboration and partnership

National Roads Policing Operations and Intelligence (NRPOI).

Level of research
Project start date
Date due for completion

Research context

The research project is aimed at developing new ways of working within roads policing, and other related fields. The project aims to develop a new partnership-based operating model for practitioners. Invariably the future of roads policing will utilise technological advancements in machine learning and ‘big-data’. This study seeks to understand the role such technologies could, or should play, in ensuring our roads are safe, secure and efficient.

Organisations working in this area have widely been subject to funding cuts in recent years. Those working to keep our roads safe are attempting to do so with less resources than previous years. Recent increases in the numbers of people being killed or seriously injured on our roads only goes to highlight the importance.

Thus, this project will attempt to support the front-line by ensuring that any future operating model is properly informed to perform efficiently, and with a firm focus on the front-line staff who would be putting the model into practice.

The overall aims of the study are to identify:

  • what roles can, does, and should, technology (and specifically big data-enabled insight) play in the future of roads policing

  • what roles can, does, and should, the human roads policing officer/other tasked agent play in this future

  • to what extent should we expect the new approach to reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured on the roads, and deny criminals the use of the roads

  • in what ways can, and should, human and technological capacity be combined to best produce safety and security on the roads in ways that are sustainable, legitimate and ethical

Research methodology

This study is broken down into three strands, each with specific elements. Each element has a specific methodological approach.

Strand 1 – Involves a number of semi-structured interviews.

Strand 2 – Involves a combination of focus groups, and semi-structured interviews.

Strand 3 – Involves a longitudinal contextual inquiry.

Whilst this research is primarily an academic activity to develop a unique contribution to knowledge, the overall programme aims to improve practice for those involved in road safety. Given the researcher’s background in roads policing, their previous knowledge and experience can be put to good effect as part of the team. Thus, in terms of research design, this study adopts insider action research.

Data analysis will involve content analysis or thematic analysis depending on the data being examined. Qualitative content analysis will be used with the documentary evidence to identify themes which may provide additional perspectives to the empirical research. Empirical data will be analysed using thematic analysis. The aim overall is to understand the key themes or patterns emerging from the data, with thematic analysis supporting that.

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