1st Edition

Critical Reflections on Evidence-Based Policing

Edited By Nigel Fielding, Karen Bullock, Simon Holdaway Copyright 2020
    228 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    228 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) has over the last decade made an increasing mark in several fields, notably health and medicine, education and social welfare. In recent years it has begun to make its mark in criminal justice. As engagement with EBP has spread, it has begun to evolve from what might be regarded as a somewhat narrow doctrine and orthodoxy to something more complex and various. Often criminological research has been at odds with the assumptions, conventions and methodologies associated with first generation EBP. In that context EBP poses a challenge to the research community and existing evidence base and is, accordingly, hotly controversial.

    This book is a welcome and timely contribution to current debates on evidence-based practice  in policing. With a sharp conceptual focus, the chapters provide a critical examination of the recent history of EBP in academic, policy and practitioner communities, evaluate key dimensions of its application to policing, challenge established understandings and pave the way for a much needed change in how research ‘evidence’ is perceived, generated, transferred, implemented and evaluated.

    Section 1: Evidence-Based Policing in Context

    Introduction: Evidence-based Practice and Policing: Background and Context

    Karen Bullock, Nigel Fielding and Simon Holdaway

    1. The Development of Evidence-Based Policing in the UK: Social Entrepreneurs and the Creation of Certainty

    Simon Holdaway

    2. Research Synthesis, Systematic Reviewing and Evidence-based Policing

    Karen Bullock

    3. Street-level Theories of Change: Adapting the Medical Model of Evidence-based Practice for Policing

    Nick Cowen and Nancy Cartwright

    4. Evaluation Evidence for Evidence-Based Policing: Randomistas and Realists

    Aiden Sidebottom and Nick Tilley

    Section 2: Evidence-Based Policing and Police Practice

    5. Evidence-Based Policing: Competing or Complementary Models?

    Jennifer Brown

    6. Democracy, Accountability and Evidence-Based Policing: Who Calls the Shots?

    Kevin Morrell and Mike Rowe

    7. Wicked Policing and Magical Thinking: Evidence for Policing Problems that Cannot be ‘Solved’ in an Age of ‘Alternative Facts’

    Martin Innes

    Section 3: Steps Toward Applying Research Evidence to Policing

    8. Changing the Narrative: Harnessing Culture as Evidence

    Jenny Fleming

    9. Effecting Change in Policing Through Police/Academic Partnerships: The Challenges of (and for) Co-production

    Adam Crawford

    Section 4: Conclusion

    10. Evidence-Based Practice in Policing: Future Trends

    Nigel Fielding


    Nigel Fielding is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Surrey and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. His research interests are in criminology (policing, the courts) and research methodology (digital research technologies, mixed methods). Nigel is the author/editor of 24 books and more than 65 peer-reviewed journal articles. In policing, these include publications on police training, community policing, police integrity, intelligence-led policing, injury on duty, police use of social media and the effects of the recruitment of minority officers on crime rates and public confidence. His most recent book is Professionalizing the Police: The Unfulfilled Promise of Police Training (2018).

    Karen Bullock is a professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Surrey. She has conducted numerous studies into many aspects of police practice, the impact of the police role on police personnel and the relationship between the police and society. She is also interested in crime reduction theory and practice, evidence-based policy and practice, and evaluation methodology.

    Simon Holdaway, Professor Emeritus of Criminology and Sociology at the University of Sheffield and part-time Professor of Criminology, Nottingham Trent University (NTU), School of Social Sciences, left school aged 16 with minimal qualifications. He joined the Metropolitan Police Cadet Force and served subsequently as a constable and, then, sergeant, for eleven years. His early research, based on a unique, covert study of policing, brought the concept of ‘police occupational culture’ to prominence. Apart from his research about police culture he has also written books and many academic papers about aspects of race relations within constabularies. His work has informed national policies; public inquiries into policing; key industrial tribunal cases involving minority ethnic officers and the work of Black Police Associations across the UK.

    "Good law, policy and practice depend on reliable information and analysis. ‘Evidence-led policing’ has been dominated by a narrow methodological and ideological perspective. This excellent collection of essays by many of the UK’s leading policing scholars challenges it, demonstrating how policing can be better understood – and improved – by drawing on methodologically and theoretically diverse research."

    Professor David Dixon, Professor of Law and Criminal Justice, UNSW, Australia

    "Science progresses by building on the lessons of the past and incorporating them into the realities of the future – a notion fundamental to the growing popularity of evidence-based policing. This is a timely summary of the status quo but importantly, like all good science, takes a constructively critical view of the development. It is a ‘must read’ for current policing practitioners."

    Gloria Laycock, Professor of Crime Science, University College London, UK

    "This is a must-read book. It is an excellent data-based collection that sets the stage for further careful discussions of the tenuous claims of evidence-based policing. The authors bring evidence to the table! While appreciating the role of ‘evidence,’ the book questions assumptions of the scheme and the extent to which this has altered policing and its case-by-case situated work."

    Peter K. Manning, Elmer V.H. and Eileen M. Brooks Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Northeastern University, USA