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Inaugural Steven Chase Memorial Award for policing research

The first recipient of the Steven Chase Memorial Award was Dr Paul Walley who is the Director of Learning in the OU Business School’s Centre for Policing Research and Learning (CPRL).

He best illustrated the ‘research into practice and practice into research’ mantra of Dr Steven Chase OBE, the Centre’s former chair and Thames Valley Police’s Director of People who sadly passed away last year. A dozen projects which achieved value for both the OU and the police, all based on collaboration between an academic (or team) and a police organisation (or several), were shortlisted by the CPRL’s Steering Group (comprising police and academic members of the Centre).

His research with Gloucestershire Constabulary was aiming to reduce the demand on police officers’ time spent on non-urgent calls by stopping repeat, or what is called ‘failure’, demand. This involved reviewing a large sample of non-urgent calls including listening to entire phone conversations that people had when reporting incidents. With CPRL pioneering the use of ‘Senior Practitioner Fellows’ who are seconded from their police forces, Gloucestershire’s Anna Jennison-Phillips worked with Dr Walley for three months to co-author the first report.

Dr Walley said: “Our analysis showed how much unnecessary repeat work was created by postponing low priority work – often causing people to call again, for example – so we devised a new approach to work allocation. This was where some non-urgent calls were dealt with immediately by contact centre staff or other officers. In conjunction with other changes, this new approach significantly reduced the amount of time response officers were spending on non-urgent work.

“The ideas have been taken on board by other forces and are influencing other innovations such as the national ‘Single Online Home’. This work, which is now supported further by the OU’s Open Societal Challenges (OSC) Programme, includes collaborating with Hertfordshire Constabulary on reducing the workload dealing with children who are reported missing.”

Dr Walley (shown left of photo) received his recognition from the OU’s Vice-Chancellor, Prof Tim Blackman, following the inaugural Steven Chase Memorial Lecture at the end of CPRL’s Engagement Day at the Milton Keynes campus on Thursday 15 June. All 12 shortlisted projects were showcased by Dr Nicky Miller, the Centre’s Director of Knowledge into Practice.

Dr Walley said:

Winning this award is quite overwhelming given that the Centre now has a 10-year track record of producing some excellent, relevant research across all the OU’s faculties.

To be singled out among some incredibly talented groups who have produced some outstanding work is really astonishing and quite unexpected. I’m always aware this could not have happened without the support of the Centre, Faculty (of Business and Law) colleagues and the OU.”

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