Critical Reflections on Evidence-Based Policing: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Critical Reflections on Evidence-Based Policing

1st Edition

Edited by Nigel Fielding, Karen Bullock, Simon Holdaway


240 pages | 5 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781138595804
pub: 2019-12-23
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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.


"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

Table of Contents

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

About the Editors

Nigel Fielding is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Surrey, UK.

Karen Bullock is Professorat the University of Surrey, UK.

Simon Holdaway is Professor Emeritus of Criminology and Sociology at the University of Sheffield, UK.

About the Series

Routledge Frontiers of Criminal Justice

Routledge Frontiers of Criminal Justice offers the very best in research on criminal justice systems around the world, offering fresh insights on a range of topics in criminal procedure, including policing, prisons, courts, youth justice, community measures, rehabilitation, victimology and forensics science.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Criminology