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  4. Collaborative Advantage: Innovation and Evidence use Between Policing Organizations and Higher Education

Collaborative Advantage: Innovation and Evidence use Between Policing Organizations and Higher Education

Led by: Professor Jean Hartley (The Open University Business School)


picture of Policing logo

The Open University Policing Consortium is a growing collaboration between 11 Police Forces, the National Crime Agency and the OU.  Together, they aim to create research evidence and use it in practice.  The Consortium partners decide on key research themes to pursue, with police partners identifying key operational issues of concern and OU academics designing the research in concert with the sponsoring organisation.  Through this process, new research knowledge is created and police capabilities in research are enhanced, with both contributing to policing improvement.

Our partners are:

  • Avon and Somerset
  • Dorset
  • Gloucestershire
  • Greater Manchester Police
  • Gwent
  • Humberside
  • Lancashire
  • Merseyside
  • National Crime Agency
  • Police Service of Northern Ireland
  • Thames Valley Police

The Consortium is thus an innovative and effective structure, based not on an arms-length contractor/supplier model but rather on a genuinely collaborative working relationship, bringing together the key knowledge, skills and experience of academics with those of practitioners.

The Consortium has a focus on strategic issues of interest to policing.  The Open University has particular research strengths in criminology and forensic psychology, in the strategic analysis of data and its conversion into knowledge; and in the leadership and management of policing organisations.  There are current projects on each of these themes.  For example, one project is on policing practice, citizen enquiry and solving crime with social media; another is on ethics and policing; a further project is visual identification; and yet another is on rebuilding of organisational trust and reputation after a period of difficulty; others examine the use of social media by criminals, and to build citizen engagement.

The OU also runs short courses and programmes in research evidence for policing improvement. For example, a day workshop on designing research was held with about 40 police participants.

The consortium also held a 24 hour workshop entitled Managing strategically with external providers on 29 - 30 April 2015. Participants discussed the latest international research and experience of externalisation - the catch-all term for all the ways in which public organisations enlist external parties to do some or all of the work for a particular programme or activity (e.g. outsourcing, shared services, use of volunteers). Copies of the presentation are available to all interested police and academics.

The consortium has made an ambitious bid to the Policing Knowledge Fund which, if successful, will see another step-change in the scope of its work.

The Chair of the OU Policing Consortium is Dr Steven Chase, Director of People, Thames Valley Police; the Academic Director is Professor Jean Hartley and the Academic Liaison is Dr Owain Smolović-Jones.  Please address enquiries to the administrator, Adele Peters.

Research team

  • Professor Jean Hartley (The Open University Business School)
  • Dr Owain Smolovic Jones (The Open University Business School)


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