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The Policing Lab at Exeter Q-Step aims to promote evidence-based policing through research. We seek to understand and improve policing policy, practice and professionalism through innovative data use and the development of police data collection. The Policing Lab successfully bid for ESRC IAA Strategic Initiative Fund to promote research collaborations with Devon & Cornwall Police (DCP).  With more than 50 academics across the University and a large group of officers and staff in DCP, we are developing a network to facilitate co-production of rigorous research and promote evidence-based policing strategies.

Staff: Katharine Boyd, Brian Rappert

Disciplines: Interdisciplinary

Topics: criminology, policing, data collection/analysis


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Registration link for virtual event:

Research and Practice in Conversation: A Policing Lab Virtual Event Registration, Tue 14 Dec 2021 at 10:00 | Eventbrite


The overarching aim of the Policing Lab Fund is to further existing relations between Devon and Cornwall Police (DCP) and the University of Exeter (UoE) through promoting evidence-based practice.

Eligible activities for submission to the Fund included activities:

  • co-developed between DCP and the UoE;
  • focused on problems and responses;
  • underpinned by research excellence;
  • with a likelihood of a positive impact on policing and societal wellbeing; and
  • relate to activities fundable through the disciplinary remit of the Economic and Social Research Council.

Applicants were expected to address DCP force mission, force priorities, Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner priorities and/or one of the Policing Lab primary strategic areas for collaboration (i.e., data analytics, tactics, professionalisation, and/or innovation) within their applications.  In addition, all submission required a at least one UoE PI and one DCP officer/staff PI.  Applicants could request up to £20,000 in funds.  Applications were due 14th of October, 2019.

Decisions were made by a review panel of six individuals from the UoE, DCP, OPCC, and College of Policing (CoP).  The panel considered peer review feedback on any application requesting £5,000 or more.  Peer reviewers were from both DCP and UoE.

Of the ten applications that were submitted six were awarded funds.  

Policing Lab Fund 2019 Awardees

Title: Lights, Camera, Action? Using Body Worn Video to assess (de)escalation in police use of force

UoE PI: Katharine Boyd

DCP PI: Alexis Poole

Co-applicants: Abi Dymond (UoE); G.J. Melendez-Torres (UoE); Nicolas Pugeault (UoE); Glen Mayhew (DCP)

Funding awarded: £19,986

Brief project description: This pilot study is an interdisciplinary project drawing on the methodological and substantive skills from criminology, social epidemiology, and computer science to assess escalation and de-escalation in police-public interactions and improve the safety of the public and police.  This project has two interrelated parts: the development of causal pathways for escalation and de-escalation using Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) and conversation analysis, and the development of machine learning to improve efficiency of evaluation of Body Worn Video (BWV) footage.


Title: Police Service Modelling Associates (PSMA) Pilot Programme

UoE PI: Daniel Chalk

DCP PI: Alexis Poole

Co-applicant: Iain Lang (UoE)

Funding awarded: £19,690

Brief project description: In 2016, PenCLAHRC (now PenARC) launched the Health Service Modelling Associates (HSMA) Programme.  In this programme, NHS staff (primarily but not exclusively analysts and service improvement staff) are released from their usual role for a day a week for one year to undertake an Operational Research (computer modelling to inform decision making) or data science project that addresses a question of importance for their organisation.  The current project will pilot the programme as a Police Service Modelling Associates (PSMA) programme in which there will be training and project development (Phase 1) and then two projects will be selected to be taken forward (Phase 2).  


Title: Hot Spot Policing Randomized Control Trial in the City of Exeter

UoE PI: Ronaldo Menezes

DCP PI: Jo Arundale

Co-applicant: Marcos Oliveira (UoE)

Funding awarded: £16,000

Brief project description: This project will analyse the distribution & dynamics of crime in Exeter and compare tot he patterns already found in other cities; test whether hte existence of active law-enforcement in high-crime rates area is sufficient to reduce the crime; test whether the existence of an authority figure, such as fire marshals, has the same effect in crime reduction; and observe whether the reduction of crime in one area is followed by an increase in crime in another.  


Title: Understanding Vulnerability in Youth Justice through an Early Intervention & Prevention Focused Approach

UoE PI: Huw Williams

DCP PI: Simon Hardwick

Co-applicant: Amanda Paterson (Devon County Council)

Funding awarded: £4,938

Brief project description: This project will conduct a series of facilitated workshops with an early intervention and prevention focus to better understand vulnerability within the Devon and Cornwall Youth Justice (YJ) system.


Title: The Well-being of the Special Constabulary within Devon and Cornwall Police

UoE PI: Ashley Frayling

DCP PI: Marc Kastner-Walmsley

Co-applicant: N/A

Funding awarded: £3,908

Brief project description: This project aims to gain an in-depth understanding of the issues and challenges Special Constables face in relation to wellbeing.  The project will adopt a qualitative approach, using semi-structure interviews with 20 Specials from a variety of areas within Devon and Cornwall Police.  


Title: Scoping Project for New Victim-Centric Crime Incident Screening Tool

UoE PI: Lewys Brace

DCP PI: Martin Kane

Co-applicants: Alexis Poole (DCP) & Ryan Doyle (DCP)

Funding awarded: £2,277

Brief project description: This project aims to develop a method of screening reported incidents of crime in a manner that better incorporates the vulnerability of the victim and the local priorities of the DCP.  Development will include: scoping, proposal of new system, and 'proof-of-concept' computational system.