Promoting Evidence-Based Practice in Policing Through the Use of Novel Pedagogies

Evidence suggests that police receptivity to research is low, which can potentially lead to knowledge gaps in core policing areas. This project aims to increase the use of research in police operations by introducing novel and engaging learning and teaching methods which make the research accessible.

Improving research reception in the police force


Research background

Evidence suggests that police receptivity to research is low (Telep & Lum, 2014; Telep & Winegar, 2015; Telep, 2017; Blaskovits, Bennell, Huey, Kalyal, Walker & Javala, 2018), with notable knowledge gaps being consistently observed in a number of core policing areas (Huey, Blaskovits, Bennell, Kalyal & Walker, 2018). Studies by Lum, Telep, Koper and Grieco (2012) and Telep (2017) have found that fewer than 20% of police officers had read academic publications, and that the majority tend to rely on experience rather than empirical evidence in making investigative decisions. This, Telep and Summers (2017) argue, is because police officers find academic research hard to make sense of and to engage with. Lack of engagement is a consequence of the ways in which such research is disseminated (Blaskovits et al., 2018), with ease of access and interpretation being key determinants of likely uptake of academic research in policing spheres (Engel & Whalen, 2010; Stephens, 2010).

There is thus a need for revised methods for disseminating research evidence to the police (Telep, 2017). It has been suggested that alternative methods of information-sharing, which are more accessible and ‘practitioner-friendly’, might promote knowledge uptake and retention (Thompson, Belur, Morris & Tiffin, 2017; Bennell & Blaskovits, 2018).

The proposed research involves the development, implementation and testing of novel methods for engaging police with research. These have been designed with reference to pedagogic theory which suggests that people are more receptive to learning if it is an enjoyable experience (Bourner & Heath, 2014) and that when they actively engage with material they will be more likely to retain information (Bruner, 1961).

Research aims

The primary aim of the research is to examine the potential value of these novel pedagogic approaches to improving police engagement and use of research evidence. The primary objective of the research is to determine whether uptake, feedback and survey responses provide support for the utility of such methods as an effective means of engaging police audiences and effectively communicating research evidence to officers.

A secondary, parallel aim is to assess the current police understanding of the research evidence available. This will be evaluated via task responses, feedback and post-activity surveys. Associated objectives include determining where an understanding of relevant evidence is weakest, and evaluating biases in use and uptake of research.

Projected outcomes 

This research hopes to increase the uptake and understanding of relevant research in the police force, thus encouraging an evidence-based approach by police.