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Scottish Funding Council gives SIPR a glowing "10-year Impact Report" (01/02/17)

Growing a stronger, safer Scotland

This article appeared as an SFC Blog to coincide with the launch of the Report

The seeds of SFC funding have the potential to grow great things. A review [Link], published today, shows that our initial funding for a research project ten years ago has made a difference, helping to contribute towards a safer Scotland and forging strong links between police and academia.

Our initial co-funding of the Scottish Institute for Policing Research (SIPR) in 2007 was one of SFC's most significant research investments to date. SIPR quickly became self-sustaining and has gone from strength to strength. Ten years after its establishment, the Impact Review explores the value which has grown from SIPR, spurred by SFC funding.

SIPR is an ambitious, innovative, multi-disciplinary, research and knowledge exchange collaboration between 13 Scottish universities and the Scottish police service.

In addition to helping establish the Institute, we provided funding for a small number of policing-related PhDs. By 2016 there were 70 PhD students, completed or currently studying. This dramatic growth in numbers makes Scotland one of the largest centres for postgraduate policing research in the UK. SIPR promotes a collaborative approach to research that involves academics and practitioners from social sciences, natural sciences and humanities - to name but a few - working together in creating, sharing and applying knowledge about policing at a local, national and international level.

SIPR supports the national police policy and practice community in Scotland with high quality, cost effective research and knowledge exchange. As a result the debate on future policing demand and provision is better informed and more widely discussed, contributing to the overall aim of creating a safer environment for the people of Scotland.

As if this weren't impressive enough, SIPR has been an inspiration around the world, with other countries wishing to replicate similar models in developing their own policing research infrastructure.

Having built up an impressive international network of policing researchers and practitioners over the last ten years, SIPR has created major value for the police. It is strengthening their evidence base for future planning and the sharing of good practice across different policing jurisdictions. Its significant international network has enhanced our universities' international research profile and impact. Importantly, it has also built up trusting working relationships among international researchers. These have resulted in a growing number of new international research partnerships formed to bid competitively for research funding.

SIPR research is highly regarded, with many universities using SIPR-facilitated projects in their Research Excellence Framework (REF) submissions. SIPR students have also won prestigious awards - In 2016, Dr Kath Murray won the 2016 Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Outstanding Early Career Impact Award for her doctoral research on police-public encounters which revealed very high levels of stop and search in Scotland. Her research sparked a wide debate which has resulted in new legislation, major changes in police practice and a 93% drop in stop searches and seizures.

SIPR is an exemplary investment for SFC in the extent of its ongoing achievement and it has significant potential to make even more of a difference. As the saying goes "mighty oaks from little acorns grow."

Read the Impact Report ...

RGU showcases Scottish model of policing research at International LEPH conference [reproduced from the RGU website] (16/11/16)

The Police (Special Operations) Research Group recently delivered a major session at an international conference on Law Enforcement and Public Health.

(L to R): RGU student Corina Andrian, Associate Lecturer Audrey Gibb, RGU student Adam Johnston, Lecturer Inga Heyman

The biennial LEPH Conference, held in Amsterdam, aimed to explore the complex and diverse intersection of law enforcement and public health, and was attended by over 300 delegates, including both practitioners and academics, from 30 countries.   

The Group’s session aimed to illustrate the Scottish Institute for Policing Research’s (SIPR) Scottish model of research on public health and protection. This involves a strategic collaboration between 13 Scottish universities and Police Scotland, which aims to produce relevant and high quality research.

This research approach is based on three overlapping models: the practitioner as researcher; embedded research (evidence-based and evidence-informed policing), and organisational excellence.

The session was attended by Emeritus Professor David A. Alexander (Specialist Advisor to Police Scotland), Associate Lecturer Dr Midj Falconer, Lecturer Inga Heyman, Detective Chief Inspector Samantha McCluskey and Associate Lecturers Andrew Brown and Audrey Gibb – former Detective Chief Inspector and Detective Sergeant, respectively.

The Group’s attendance was funded and arranged in association by Robert Gordon University (RGU), SIPR and Police Scotland.

The session commenced with a presentation from Professor Nick Fyfe, Director of SIPR, who illustrated and examined the Institute’s pioneering approach to police research.

Emeritus Professor David A. Alexander then highlighted the framework for research conducted by the Group under the auspices of the Aberdeen Centre for Trauma Research (ACTR), with an emphasis on researching ‘with’ the police, rather than ‘on’. This was evidenced by Inga Heyman with her presentation demonstrating the model of ‘insider-outsider’ collaborative health and police research, which highlighted the role of police officer as researcher.

Dr Midj Falconer presented on her findings from the study ‘Resilience and Well-being in a Scottish Police Force’: an exploration of the ability of police officers to cope with the demands of contemporary operational policing. This was a collaboratively-funded doctorate between SIPR and RGU, as an example of evidence-informed research.

The role of practitioner as expert was exemplified by Andrew Brown, who provided an account of the extensive experience gained from his police career, to that of academic and expert. This was then further demonstrated by DCI Samantha McCluskey, from the Domestic Abuse Task Force, in her presentation regarding the policing of perpetrators of domestic abuse.

Additional sessions were also delivered by Audrey Gibb and Inga Heyman on the 'Collaborative Outcomes Learning Tool (COLT) for Prevent' project, and on Inga’s doctorate study in the interface between police, health services and those in mental health distress.

Commenting on their successful attendance at the conference, Emeritus Professor David A. Alexander said: “As the senior member of our Police Group I was really impressed by the quality of all my colleagues’ presentations. They did the RGU proud and the financial investment in our attendance, as the largest single team present, was ‘refunded’ by a considerable dividend.”

Release by Jonathon Milne
Communications Officer | Health and Sport
Press and Media Enquiries

George Mason Criminology students joined with others in Scotland to explore how policing is researched around the world. [Reproduced from the GMU Website. Photo provided.] (26/07/16)

While some visitors to Scotland go for the bagpipes, castle tours or whisky tastings, a team of students and professors from George Mason University’s Criminology, Law and Society Department spent a week during summer break at the University of St. Andrews sharpening their knowledge of police research.

A first-ever collaboration by George Mason and the Scottish Institute of Policing Research called the International Summer School for Policing Scholarship brought together a total of 20 doctoral students from universities in Scotland, Norway and the USA, including six from George Mason University and three from Arizona State University, to study how policing is researched around the world.

Examining policing methods is a vital field in need of more researchers, said Cynthia Lum, director of Mason’s Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy, who developed the idea of the summer school with colleagues from SIPR as part of her Fulbright Specialist award to the University of St. Andrews.

“Recent events in policing only reinforce the need for more research knowledge in this field of criminology,” she said. “Understanding how police can effectively prevent crime and do so fairly, respectfully and in collaboration with communities is key to policing in democracies.”

The goal of the summer school, she said, was to keep students focused on possible careers in policing research as well as exposing them to the different theories, methods, and styles of policing research.

During the week the students attended lectures of various aspects of policing research, including ethics, methodologies and translating research into practice. They also visited Scottish government facilities to see how government uses research, and participated in one-on-one mentoring sessions and small group workshops.

“I feel fortunate to have been selected to attend the first class of students,” said Mason PhD student Amber Scherer, originally from Moline, Ill. “Students were discussing avenues for research collaboration, getting ideas for new research projects and gaining instrumental insight into their dissertation research—not to mention the friendships made and developed throughout the week.”

Said Xiaoyun Wu, a Mason first-year graduate student and graduate research assistant from China: “I was able to have in-depth communication with colleagues from other universities through which we exchanged our research experiences and discussed feasible opportunities for future collaboration.”

Carl Maupin, a Mason PhD student from Leesburg, said he was grateful that he was able to meet more than a dozen officers from Police Scotland and observe the communities where they serve.

“This provided a richer context of policing in Scotland—specifically the notion and example of ‘policing by consent of the people’—that enhanced my understanding of the material presented in class,” Maupin said.

Lum said she hopes the every-other-year program continues “as long as possible.”

Stop and search pilot evaluation published(19/06/15)

Researchers at the University of Dundee and Edinburgh Napier University have published a report evaluating a new approach to stop and search piloted by Police Scotland.

The research was carried out by Dr Megan O'Neill, from Dundee, and Edinburgh Napier's Dr Liz Aston. It commends Fife Division for their efforts to make stop and search more effective and address public concerns about the measures and highlights elements of the pilot, which can be regarded as good practice.

The authors also make 19 recommendations for improvement, including how to deal with problematic aspects of consensual searches having noted an enduring misunderstanding about the purpose of consensual searches and a citizen's rights, even with a significantly increased level of information provided by officers during the pilot.

"It was clear that the individual officers, Fife Division and Police Scotland in general had a desire to make stop and search the most effective practice it could be to first and foremost serve the public," said Dr O'Neill. "They invested a considerable degree of time, effort and resources into it and many of the elements of the pilot can indeed be regarded as best practice.

"Those searched continued to complain about 'random' searches during the trial, suggesting that even with the pilot's methods of making the option to refuse a consensual search explicit and the advice slips provided by officers, confusion and resulting bad feelings remain.

"In light of this, we would suggest Police Scotland move to a position of using legislative searches only. Only these can truly be 'targeted' at 'the right people, right place and right time' thereby enhancing accountability and public confidence, two key aims of the pilot."

Dr O'Neill and Dr Liz Aston are both members of the Scottish Institute for Policing Research (SIPR), who funded the evaluation along with Police Scotland.

The Fife Pilot evaluation ran from November 2014 to February 2015. It aimed to improve levels of approval amongst the public by better informing them of the process, the reasons why searches are being carried out, and the rights of the individual. Researchers analysed police data on their use of stop and search in two areas of Fife, and compared that to data from another division of Police Scotland.

Elements introduced as part of the pilot included sending letters to the parents of children who have been stopped to make them aware of the event, providing enhanced information leaflets to every person stopped, and increasing opportunities for the public to provide feedback after a search.

An end to consensual stop and search is one of 19 recommendations in the report, which held up the systematic recording of all stop searches, compliance recording checks, engagement with external stakeholders, provision of advice slips and aide memoires, and enhanced staff training as successes.

Other findings of the report include:

  • More stop and search, even with good practice identified in the pilot, will not stop crime or anti-social behaviour alone
  • While police respondents perceived stop and search to be effective in terms of crime prevention the current evidence base does not support this
  • Stop and search should be used as a last resort in contact with the public, especially with young people and vulnerable groups
  • The stop and search database should flag up whether the same individuals are being stopped and searched on multiple occasions and alternative interventions used in these instances
  • Local knowledge is essential if the pilot is to be successfully rolled out nationwide
  • Increased and improved face-to-face training on stop and search should be provided for officers

Professor Nick Fyfe, Director of the Scottish Institute for Policing Research, said, "As Police Scotland develop and improve their approach to stop and search, they are working closely with a range of partners and recognise the need for this work to be underpinned by independent research.

"The evaluation of the Fife Stop and Search Pilot exemplifies this collaborative, evidence-based approach. Undertaken by members of the internationally recognised Scottish Institute for Policing Research, Police Scotland facilitated access to relevant data and police personnel which has allowed an in-depth analysis of how stop and search powers are being deployed in the Fife Division. The recommendations from the research are now informing the development of future policy and practice around stop and search across Scotland."

The full report can be accessed at

For further details of the pilot evaluation, please contact Dr O’Neill on or 01382 381238.


SIPR Postgraduate Diploma Policing Studies: First graduates (03/12/14)

Alistair Shields and Nadine Aliane

Three students from the first cohort of students from the SIPR PG Diploma in Policing Studies have graduated from the University of Dundee with an MSc Applied Professional Studies (Policing). These students are Nadine Aliane, Alistair Shields and Paul Niven. Nadine and Alistair (pictured right) attended the graduation ceremony with their families. Another two students are expected to graduate in 2015. Nadine said of the programme:

"Having just completed and attained my MSc in Applied Professional Studies (Policing), I have had a chance to reflect on the experience. The course provided me with the opportunity to broaden my awareness of policing issues at a local, national and international level. The course was designed to gradually build upon new learning, including an introduction to policing theories, communities at risk, research skills and leadership and management models. My dissertation allowed me to consolidate this new learning into research in an area of policing that not only interested me but uncovered relevant and important issues relating to the victims of racist hate crime in Scotland. I intend to use these findings to assist me and my colleagues in this area of policing. The course was challenging, interesting but above all highly enjoyable."

The students were supported through their dissertations by their supervisor, Lynn Kelly and a range of SIPR lecturers who provided additional subject level expertise. The students' dissertations covered a range of interesting topics that will be of value to Police Scotland and they will be invited to share their work at a SIPR event. The topics included; sickness management in the military police, why racist hate crime is under reported to the police in Scotland, and the values and ethics of policing large scale sporting events. The students are already looking at ways of further engaging with the SIPR research community and with their employers.

Dundee and Napier researchers to evaluate stop and search pilot (30/09/14)

Researchers from the University of Dundee and Edinburgh Napier University are to evaluate a stop and search scheme being piloted by the Fife Division of Police Scotland. 

Dr Megan O’Neill, from Dundee, and Napier’s Dr Liz Aston, both members of the Scottish Institute of Policing Research (SIPR), will lead a team investigating the impact of a new approach to stop and search currently being trialled in Fife. The evaluation is being funded by SIPR and the Scottish Police Authority.

The use of stop and search methods has proved controversial. While police officers claim they are a vital tool for law enforcement and crime prevention, civil liberties groups and other organisations have raised concerns that they unfairly target certain demographics.

The Fife project started in July 2014 and will last until February 2015. It aims to improve levels of approval amongst the public by better informing them of the process, the reasons why searches are being carried out, and the rights of the individual. Researchers will analyse police data on their use of stop and search in two areas of Fife, and will compare that to data from another division of Police Scotland.

Some of the new elements of the pilot include sending letters to the parents of children who have been stopped to make them aware of the event, providing enhanced information leaflets to every person stopped, and increasing opportunities for the public to provide feedback after a search. Officers in Fife are using databases and other intelligence systems to ensure that stop and search is used in a targeted way and consulting with community groups about the process on a regular basis.

Dr O’Neill said, “This is a fantastic opportunity to make a real difference to policing in Scotland.  Police Scotland has been under intense scrutiny in relation to their use of stop and search in recent months. We will be able to assess whether their planned changes to stop and search will make the police more accountable to the public, is based on improved data and information and if public confidence in policing is thereby enhanced.”

The team will also observe how the police engage in stop and search as well as interview both officers and those people who have been stopped to gauge their views. The local groups that officers consult with will also be asked their opinions about the new approach to stop and search.

Dr Aston said, “Stop and search has been under-researched in Scotland. Our research findings will be of practical application and I am hopeful that they will make an impact in an important area of policing.”

Chief Superintendent Garry McEwan, Police Commander for the Fife Division, said, “We were impressed with the proposal put forward by Drs O’Neill and Aston for this project and are giving the researchers full access to all the information and staff that they need in order to progress  this work.

“Police Scotland is committed to keeping people safe and one of a number of operational tactics for doing that is by stopping and searching the right people in the right places for the right reasons. The pilot has been designed to improve our accountability and effectiveness whilst raising awareness within local communities. I welcome the input by Drs O’Neill and Aston in this regard.”

A report on the findings of the evaluation will be produced in early April 2015.

For further details of the pilot evaluation, please contact Dr O’Neill on or 01382 381238.


Dr David La Rooy, Abertay University, wins prestigious Academic Excellence Award (18/06/14)

Dr David La Rooy

Dr David La Rooy - Reader in Psychology here at Abertay and Leader of our Security research theme - has won the prestigious iIIRG Academic Excellence Award.

The iIIRG (International Investigative Interviewers Research Group) is a worldwide network of professionals who work with international bodies to improve investigative interviewing practice.

At its annual conference - which was this year held in Lausanne, Switzerland - the iIIRG awards those who have produced work of outstanding quality.

Previous winners of this particular award include Colonel Steven Kleinman, the former US military intelligence officer who was one of the first experienced interrogators - and the first military officer - to offer a strong public case against the use of coercive interrogation practices (such as torture) in Iraq.

Dr Fiona Gabbert - a former researcher at Abertay, who now works at Goldsmiths College in London - has also won the award. She was recognised for her research on interviewing adult witnesses and victims of crime.

Dr La Rooy - who is an internationally recognised memory expert, expert in investigative interviewing techniques, and Chartered Psychologist - was recognised for the research he has carried out that has influenced the training of child forensic interviewers, the police, lawyers and judges around the world in how best to interview victims of child abuse.

He has worked in collaboration with many world-leading scientists and practitioners, including Professor Michael Lamb at Cambridge University.

Congratulating Dr La Rooy on his award, Andrea Cameron - Head of the School of Social and Health Sciences - said:

"It is a brilliant achievement for David to receive this level of recognition from his peers. He is certainly in prestigious company and receipt of this accolade could potentially offer further opportunities for him - as the RLINCS Theme Leader for Security - to progress Security-themed research collaborations between colleagues internal and external to Abertay."

Prestigious international prize for Professor Fyfe (08/05/14)

Nicholas Fyfe

Professor Nicholas Fyfe, Director of the Scottish Institute of Policing Research (SIPR), based at the University of Dundee, has been named as the joint winner of a prestigious international award for crime policy.

The Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy (CEBCP), based at George Mason University in Washington, have named Professor Fyfe as the winner of their Distinguished Achievement Award, along with Jeremy Travis, President of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, University of New York.

Professor Fyfe is only the second British recipient of the award, the other being former Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police and Chief Executive of the National Policing Improvement Agency, Peter Neyroud.

Professor Cynthia Lum, Director of CEBCP, congratulated the winners, saying, “Each year we have selected two individuals who over the course of their careers have shown exceptional commitment to create and build the research-to-practice links that the CEBCP strives toward. The award is unique in the field of criminology and criminal justice, and celebrates a challenging accomplishment that few are able to achieve.”

Professor Fyfe’s contribution to evidence-based policing policy and practice has been built on academic excellence and he has published four books, including ‘Protecting Intimidated Witnesses’ which has been described as the definitive guide to the issue.

In addition, he has authored over 20 book chapters and more than 40 journal articles on a wide number of subjects within policing including environmental criminology, CCTV and surveillance, witness protection and organised crime, police investigations of missing people, community engagement, privatisation, and organisational reform.

In 2006, Professor Fyfe led a successful bid on behalf of the 12 Scottish Higher Education Institutions, to secure funding from the Scottish Funding Council and the Association of Chief Police Officers of Scotland (ACPOS) to establish SIPR.

Focused on improving the evidence base for policing policy and practice, SIPR has become an internationally recognised model of police-academic partnership and works in close collaboration with Police Scotland. In 2009, Professor Fyfe was appointed Fellow of the Scottish Police College in recognition of his “significant and sustained contribution to the education and training of police officers and staff”.

Professor Fyfe said, “It is a huge honour to receive this award and to have this international recognition of work I have been engaged in over 20 years focused on using research evidence to improve policing.

“Although it is an individual award, it also very much recognises the collective contribution of colleagues within the Scottish Institute for Policing Research who have helped make the Institute a world-leader in police-academic collaboration committed to developing evidence-based approaches to policing policy and practice.”

Dundee Lecturer advises the Home Office on neighbourhood policing practice (21/04/14)

Megan O'Neill

Dr Megan O'Neill, Lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Dundee and a member of SIPR, recently presented findings from her study of Police Community Support Officers and neighbourhood policing at the Home Office. In attendance on Monday, 14th April, were researchers from the Home Office Crime and Policing Analysis Unit, the College of Policing and the Association of Chief Police Officers. Topics covered in the presentation and discussion were powers for PCSOs, their training, their role and effective management. The findings were warmly received, with the research report being referred to as well-written, informative and very useful for policy and practice development. It is likely that the project report will be used to develop the next Home Office guidance on Police Community Support Officers.

The full project report can be accessed at:

Prestigious internship will see Maria solve a problem like policing (21/01/14)

A PhD student from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (DJCAD), who has previously worked with Interpol to help identify victims of mass disasters by their jewellery, has won a prestigious six-month placement to be spent with the College of Policing.

Maria Maclennan, a graduate of both the Jewellery and Metal Design and Master of Design for Services programmes at DJCAD, part of the University of Dundee, will bring her design skills to bear on an ongoing research project with the internationally renowned College of Policing - the UK's professional body for policing.

The project will see Maria work within the College's Research, Analysis and Information (RAI) unit to help develop a visual and interactive online 'Research Map' of Policing and Crime Reduction research currently being undertaken across the UK. By identifying academics, research groups and police forces undertaking work in areas of mutual interest, the Map aims to facilitate knowledge exchange, networking and potential collaboration, and can help prevent a duplication of research effort.

The scholarship has been made available by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), who are also funding Maria's PhD studies. The placement will primarily be spent at Bramshill, the Hampshire base of the College of Policing.

Maria will be required to utilise her design skills in new and innovative ways, applying them within the real-world context of law enforcement. In turn, her experiences will help to inform her thesis.

Maria said, "I would love to one day be a designer in the FBI or an artworker for MI6 - hopefully this experience will help me achieve this goal. This internship is an invaluable opportunity for me to put into practice and hone a variety of the design, research and communication skills that I've been developing throughout the course of my academic journey thus far.

"The purpose of the ESRC's Internship Scheme is to allow students to work on a dedicated, live research project outside the confines of academia. This is a great opportunity to work at the very crux of knowledge exchange research between creative and scientific disciplines - the very thing my PhD is seeking to explore.

"The internship is particularly exciting as it allows me to experience first-hand the knowledge exchange that will take place when design meets policing as opposed to me observing someone else do it, which brings a whole new personal dimension to my PhD."

In time, it is hoped the Map will help the academic community plan their future research activities or review their existing research plans against knowledge gaps in policing-related research whilst police practitioners and staff can see how new academic research relates to current policing priorities.

Bramshill is also home to the UK's National Police Library - a central specialist library service for UK police officers and staff. The unique national collection covers all aspects of policing and related subjects, plus further eResources which enable access to the wider world of published research. The Library will be an invaluable resource to Maria's doctoral studies into 'Forensic Jewellery', which aim to investigate the potential of jewellery as a new methodological development within Forensic Human Identification (FHI) research.

Maria's PhD seeks to explore the current use, relevancies and potential of jewellery as a method of identification, and the implications this research has on the field of Contemporary Jewellery Design (CJD). She is interested in using the method of design workshops to facilitate a 'knowledge exchange' between these two traditionally disciplinarily distant fields of enquiry.

Maria's PhD builds upon Master's research which saw her work alongside the International Fast and Efficient Disaster Victim Identification (FastID) team at Dundee's Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID) to design a Forensic Jewellery Classification System for Interpol.

She helped to analyse a vast array of images and types of jewellery to develop a common jewellery 'language' and terminology to describe items recovered in the aftermath of mass disasters such as 9/11, in order to assist with the forensic process of 'Disaster Victim Identification (DVI)'.

Jewellery has the potential to inform investigators a lot about the person to whom it belonged, particularly if an item has a personal, religious or cultural significance. Inscriptions, engravings or hallmarks on jewellery as well as family photographs in lockets can also hold vital clues to the possible identity of a victim.

FASTID is an EU-funded three-year collaboration of six partners - Interpol, Bundeskriminalamt (BKA - Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office), Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft (Germany), Plassdata (Denmark) and Crabbe Consulting Ltd (UK and Germany), and CAHID at The University of Dundee.

CAHID was primarily tasked with developing a novel method to optimise the operational commonality ('standard terminology') of identification data across all 190 Interpol member countries in the event of an international mass fatality event. Research into image retrieval and matching methods for assisting forensic identification with respect to craniofacial superimposition approaches to face recognition, tattoo and other body modifications is also being carried out at Dundee as part of this project.

Fact-finding Mission to Scotland by Rio de Janeiro Police (26/02/13)

Brazilian visitors

Seven senior Brazilian police officers from the State Military Police in Rio de Janeiro arrived for a week long trip to Scotland at the end of February as part of a fact-finding mission. As Rio begins its preparations for hosting matches during the World Cup in 2014 and holding the 2016 Olympics, they have come to Scotland to discuss their counterparts' experiences of community policing and the policing of sporting mega events.

The visit, organised by the Scottish Institute for Policing Research (SIPR), began with a visit to the Scottish Police College to learn about approaches to police training. The following day they visited Fife Constabulary for a briefing on the innovative approach taken to community engagement there as well as the opportunity to see community policing in action. Later they went to St Andrews University to hear about research on approaches to violence reduction in Scotland and elsewhere.

The following two days were spent meeting Strathclyde Police and the Scottish Government Commonwealth Games Security Teams, as well as a research team from SIPR and the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (SCCJR) who are studying the policing of sporting mega-events. Given Rio will host both the World Cup and the Olympics over the next 3 years this was of particular interest.

The meeting concluded with a visit to the University of Dundee to discuss opportunities for collaborative research and postgraduate police education, as well as a visit to Tayside Police HQ.

The Brazilian officers were accompanied throughout their visit by Peter Wilson, former Chief Constable of Fife Constabulary, and now Director of Scottish Policing International.

Unweaving the Web of Online Human Trafficking (10/11/12)

Scottish researchers will be addressing how internet and online social networks are increasingly used in human trafficking, in a project funded by the prestigious Scottish Crucible scheme.

The £4,000 grant will be used to ask how online networks enable traffickers to reach larger audiences across the world: both recruiting people and selling services provided by trafficked men, women and children.

The project is an initiative from five young researchers at Dundee University, Glasgow Caledonian University/Central European University, Northumbria University and St Andrews University. The start-up funding will be used to build a strong research group to address these issues.

Dr Jonathan Mendel – a Geography Lecturer, School of the Environment at Dundee University and part of the Scottish Institute for Policing Research – said that “a 2011 Europol report highlights the real difficulty in identifying online criminals using traditional police techniques.  Stop Traffic will provide an important platform for discussing these problems”.

Dr Sharapov from Glasgow Caledonian University is on the project team: “we know that online networks are used in human trafficking, but we need to know more about their extent and usage.  This project will allow us to pool expertise in fields from Computing to Sociology to investigate these questions.”

The first project meeting will be a workshop at Dundee University in February 2013.  International experts will discuss how researchers, activists and policymakers can generate innovative ways of understanding and addressing online human trafficking.

The project team are:

Dr Jonathan Mendel, University of Dundee (

Dr Kiril Sharapov, Glasgow Caledonian University/Central European University (Budapest,Hungary) (

Dr Wendy Moncur, University of Dundee (

Dr Tamsin Saxton, University of Northumbria (

Dr Adam Barker, University of St Andrews (

Mad mobs and Englishmen?: Myths and realities of the 2011 riots (18/11/11)

Bookcover: Mad Mobs & Englishmen

Mad mobs and Englishmen?, an e-book by Professor Steve Reicher and Dr Cliff Stott, published on 18th November 2011

SIPR researcher Professor Steve Reicher (St Andrews University) along with Clifford Stott (Liverpool University) has just published a book analysing the riots in London and other English cities in 2011.

In August 2011, London and many other English towns and cities erupted into some of the worst rioting for decades. David Cameron blamed a broken society with a sick morality; Tony Blair a defiant underclass. Yet with no evidence to support their claims, their remarks were typical of the storm of uninformed comments that followed the riots, based largely on longstanding misconceptions of why people riot. With their extensive expertise in crowd behaviour and psychology, and years of research experience studying crowds, riots and hooliganism worldwide, psychologists Steve Reicher and Cliff Stott challenge the myths of the 2011 riots perpetuated in the media and elsewhere; consider the reality on the ground and how to avoid a repeat scenario.

Published as an e-book, this very affordable treatise (at just £2.34) provides a useful analysis of the riots, is an engaging way of getting students interested in social psychology.

Selected reviews:

'An excellent and important book. In this fascinating account, Reicher and Stott challenge the widespread dismissal of the riots as "criminality pure and simple." They offer compelling evidence for an alternative view of what really caused the uprisings. All of us, especially our policy makers, need to take note in order to prevent more riots in the future.'
George Akerlof, Nobel Prize-Winner in Economics, 2001 and Professor of Economics at UC Berkeley

'This reasoned and intelligent approach is in stark contrast to the moral panics apparent in Westminster and the media in the immediate aftermath of the riots. They have endeavoured to present a carefully researched document that seeks to understand such events and find workable strategies to prevent future occurrences and should be congratulated.'
Superintendent Roger Evans, former Deputy Commander of the Metropolitan Police Territorial Support Group.

For further details ...

Purchase e-book through Amazon ...

Researchers seek to understand experiences of missing people (04/02/11)

A project which aims to increase understanding of why adults go missing, where they go and how searches are carried out is being undertaken by a team of researchers from the University of Glasgow, University of Dundee and Grampian Police.

The 'Geographies of Missing People' project is being conducted in partnership with the Metropolitan Police Service and Grampian Police and aims to examine the scope and capabilities of organisations to track missing adults, investigate the experiential geographies of those who go missing, and advance policy and operational understandings of 'missingness'.

Dr Hester Parr, a Reader in the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, who is leading the project said: "There have been relatively few studies of 'going missing', and these are mostly orientated towards younger people who are estimated to make up two-thirds of missing episodes per year. Our study is different: it's on adult missing people'.

"Grampian Police have developed quantitative models of missing people, so for example, if a 40-year-old man goes missing they have a spatial model which dictates the size of the search area and likely locations where he might be found.'

"But research to date has not looked at qualitative information - in other words, the way people use space, the types of places they seek out and their experiences of them.

"Consequently, there is a general lack of information about adults who go missing and their spatial experiences, especially as articulated through the voices of 'returned' missing people.

Grampian Police Assistant Chief Constable Colin Menzies (also Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS) lead for Missing Persons) states "Missing People represent a significant challenge for the police due to the volume of cases and the potential risks missing people face. Building on the work we have already conducted, this new qualitative research will significantly add to our knowledge of missing person behaviour and support how we approach missing persons operationally."

Hester Parr highlights that "A range of research questions exist: What led to the disappearance? Why did they leave? Where did the person go? How did the police and other agencies respond and what type of search was carried out? 'How does the family cope with being left behind? What happens when and if missing people come back?

"These are the questions that lie at the heart of this research which we intend to gain insight into to help support police and other organizations tasked with finding missing people at a strategic and operational level."

The project will involve interviews with police to gain understanding into how missing person cases are dealt with, interviews with people who have gone missing in the past but who have returned and with family members of people who have gone missing.

Around 300,000 people go missing every year in the UK - but about 75% return after three days.

The project, which is being funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, runs for three years.

For further details ...

Scottish Policing Awards win for SPC and SIPR (11/11/10)

Cllr Iain Whyte presents Award

Photo: Professor Nick Fyfe (l), Iain Whyte (Convenor of Lothian & Borders Police Board), Supt Andy Tatnell (Head of Management and Leadership Division, SPC)

The Scottish Institute for Policing Research together with the Scottish Police College has won a commendation for its innovative continuing professional development programme at this year's Scottish Policing Awards ceremony.

The Institute, a consortium of 13 universities with its administrative headquarters in Dundee, has been working in partnership with the Scottish Police College to devise the new programme.

"Historically the CPD programme run by the Scottish Police College has involved "cops teaching cops," explained Professor Nick Fyfe, SIPR Director, who attended the awards ceremony on 1st November.

"The new programme has combined the traditional approach with a series of academic-based courses, and for the first time has widened the audience, with the opportunity for SIPR to bring in additional income by selling a portion of places to other appropriate stakeholders. It has harnessed expertise from Scotland's universities to provide professional development of individuals employed within and outwith the Scottish Police Service."

Hosted by Kenny Macaskill, Cabinet Secretary for Justice, the Annual Scottish Policing Awards pays tribute to individual staff and teams that have played a particular role in one of four areas: Making Communities Safer; Quality of Service; Working More Efficiently; or Making Justice Work.

The Commendation to the SPC and SIPR was within the Working More Efficiently section, and the presentation was made by Councillor Iain Whyte, Chair of the Scottish Police Authorities Conveners Forum.

SIPR Member awarded Fulbright Police Research Fellowship for 2011 (20/10/2010)

Andrew Brown with First Minister, Alex Salmond

Chief Inspector Andy Brown, Deputy Head of Leadership and Management at the Scottish Police College, has secured a Fulbright Police Research Fellowship to conduct both research and lecturing in the United States with the FBI, New York Police Department and John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York.

Created in 1948, The Fulbright Commission offers a wide range of exchange opportunities for UK citizens, awarding scholarships and summer programmes for UK citizens to study, lecture or research in the USA.

Chief Inspector Brown will begin his work with the Fulbright commission in August 2011 and intends to:

  • Research the perceived effectiveness of hostage/crisis negotiator incidents across different law enforcement agencies;
  • Identify comparisons and differences deriving from a cultural and policing perspective;
  • Observe negotiator deployments to understand how a specialist unit operates and interacts with other law enforcement agencies;
  • Assist in the delivery of training through lecturing on key aspects of hostage/crisis negotiation.

Chief Inspector Brown's fellowship will form part of a three phased approach. The first phase will combine study and research into high weapon crime and armed police forces in the USA. The second phase will be through the European Police research Institute Collaboration of the Scottish Institute for Policing Research in either Norway or the Netherlands, and the third phase will concentrate on low weapon crime and unarmed police forces with specialist armed support in the UK.

The Fulbright Commission held its first ever meeting in Scotland last week. First Minister Alex Salmond later held a reception for the Scholars to celebrate the increasing success of the Fulbright educational exchange programme in Scotland.

Chief Inspector Brown attended both the meeting and the reception and said:"It's great that the Fulbright Commission is increasing its awareness in Scotland. Having been involved in this type of research for a number of years, I'm really excited about the programme. Making a comparative study in the context of different police cultures will help me continue to develop negotiator training in the UK to deal with the ever increasing use of weapons by serious organised crime groups and terrorists."

Police funding under the spotlight at Dundee conference (13/09/2010)

The question of police funding in an austere economic environment will be to the fore as over 130 senior police, forensic experts and academics gather in Dundee tomorrow (Tuesday Sept 14th) for the Scottish Institute for Policing Research’s fourth annual research conference.

Delegates will be considering the highly topical subject of “Policing in an Age of Austerity”. The keynote address will come from Professor Martin Innes, Director of the Universities Police Science Institute, Cardiff, whose contribution is titled “Paying the bill? Policing after the recession”.

Professor Nicholas Fyfe, of the University of Dundee and Director of the Scottish Institute for Policing Research, said, “This conference focuses attention on one of the most significant challenges faced for a generation by police leaders and those with responsibilities for policing in local and central government.

“Significant public spending cuts are already impacting directly on police force budgets but will also have wider implications for policing as fiscal constraints feed through into the broader social and economic environment. Against this background, having a robust evidence-base of ‘what works’ and `what’s cost-effective’ in terms of policing is vital.”

This year’s event is being held in partnership with the Scottish Police Services Authority (SPSA) Forensic Services and their ‘New developments in forensic science’ Conference.

The conference takes place at the West Park Centre in Dundee, part of the University of Dundee, and will also include a visit to the new SPSA Forensics laboratory in the city which was officially opened in June.

The delegates will visit Rushton Court, SPSA’s new £23m forensic laboratory, where the Lord Provost, John Letford, will host a Civic Reception on Tuesday evening. In addition to seeing the benefits provided by Scotland’s first new purpose-built forensic laboratory in 15 years, the Forensic Showcase on the second day of the conference will provide delegates with an opportunity to see the latest developments that are emerging in Dundee, with poster presentations by researchers from the University of Abertay Dundee, and the University of Dundee, including a team from the renowned Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification, led by Professor Sue Black, which was featured in the highly successful ‘History Cold Case’ series on BBC2 earlier this year. There are also exhibits from the SPSA staff based in Dundee, Glasgow and Aberdeen.

SPSA Director of Forensic Services Tom Nelson said, “This conference will help to further build the vital relationship between academia and our staff working in the frontline of forensic science. By working together we can enhance research and development of our science so that it makes the best possible contribution to the investigation of crime and the pursuit of justice.”

SIPR Member awarded Fulbright Police Research Fellowship (29/6/2010)


From a record number of applications, SIPR Members Inspector Steve Ritchie and Lisa Buchanan have been chosen as a Fulbright Police Research Fellow for 2010-11.

Each year, just five awards are offered to active UK police officers and staff from all ranks to conduct research, pursue professional development and/or assess best practice affiliated with any US institution. Steve will be joining the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, and Lisa will be joining the University of California, Berkeley.

A Police Inspector, Steve was born and resides in Scotland. He gained a BSc from Napier University in Edinburgh in 1979 before joining Central Scotland Police. Having worked in a range of roles, including underwater-search, he transferred to Grampian Police in 1990. With the support of a Fellowship from the National Police Leadership Centre at Bramshill, he has undertaken postgraduate and PhD research with the Robert Gordon University. This has examined performance management practice in the UK Police Forces and Steve will be submitting his final thesis shortly before his departure to the US. When not working or researching, Steve sails a boat in Greece with his wife. As one of the first recipients of the Fulbright Scottish Police Research Award, his main aim is to understand the effects of different drivers for policing activity between the US and Scotland.

Lisa was born in Edinburgh but having spent most of her life in the Scottish Highlands considers herself a Highlander at heart. In 2003 she successfully completed an MA (Hons) in Interpreting and Translating at Heriot-Watt University and undertook a year abroad working and studying in Vienna and Paris. Lisa recently achieved a distinction in her MSc in Applied Professional Studies for her thesis on equality and social inclusion. Subsequently she has published her research work and will use her Fulbright Police Research Fellowship at UC Berkeley to conduct a comparative study on reporting homophobic hate incidents. Lisa has worked in the field of equalities for eight years and presently works as Strategic Diversity Advisor for Northern Constabulary. She facilitates the Community Advisory Group and raises awareness of equality and diversity across the Force. In her spare time she enjoys horse riding and playing the fiddle.

Databases, surveillance and crime control (23/11/09)

The role of databases in crime control is among the issues to be examined at a one-day conference taking place in Glasgow next month.
An expert panel of speakers from the UK and The Netherlands will gather at the Institute of Advanced Studies on Tuesday, December 8th to critically examine issues surrounding the use of databases in crime control and as a weapon in the war on terror.
The conference is being organised by the Institute for Advanced Studies, Glasgow, and the Scottish Institute for Policing Research, a consortium of 13 Scottish Universities supported by investment from the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland and the Scottish Funding Council.
SIPR Director Professor Nick Fyfe, who is based at the University of Dundee, explained how the use of databases amongst crime detection agencies has changed.
"The importance of databases in the prevention and detection of crime is now a routine part of contemporary discourses of crime control," he said. "This meeting will provide an opportunity to critically examine the use of DNA, financial records and passenger information in the fight against crime and in the European war on terror."
Attendees at the event will include university researchers and invited delegates from the Scottish Government, Police Services, and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.
Home Secretary Alan Johnston MP recently announced proposals for the records of most unconvicted people arrested in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to be removed from the DNA database after 6 years.
With this in mind, the meeting will provide an opportunity to reflect on how the use of databases raises important legal and ethical questions about the surveillance of human populations. It will also look at the wider social and political implications of increasing concerns about security.
More information about the Institute for Advanced Studies can be found at

International focus on SIPR - Second Annual Report 2008 (10/03/09)

The `unique collaboration' between Scotland's senior police officers and the academic research community is now viewed internationally as a model of good practice and is increasingly shaping the approaches being taken by other collaborative research bodies in the UK.

In his second Annual Report, Professor Nick Fyfe, Director of the Scottish Institute for Policing Research, highlights the growth in research capacity which has been created by the Institute, and highlights key areas of research activity now being explored by academics in conjunction with Scotland's eight police forces.

Money laundering, e-fraud, policing the night time economy, and radicalisation are areas of research which may inform more complex policing activity in the future, but it is also recognised that more has yet to be understood about the investigation of rape, the sharing of intelligence between the police and community partners, and interviewing people with learning disabilities.

Professor Fyfe, of the University of Dundee, said "The key to the success of the Institute during its first two years has been the unique collaboration between Scotland's Chief Constables and the Universities. This has led to real engagement between academics and police professionals who have been increasingly interested in understanding what research evidence has to tell them about how they do their job better. One of the most visible successes has been the range of topics discussed under the general banner of knowledge transfer, and this is now attracting the interest of the international academic and policing communities."

The importance of the Institute being recognised as having international standing has led to invitations being extended to 'Visiting Professors' to contribute to the Institute's three networks - Professor David Kennedy, from John Jay College, New York, is associated with the Police-Community Relations Network; Professor Anders Granhag of the University of Gothenberg joins the Evidence and Investigation Network; and Professor Philip Stenning of Keele University is engaged with the Police Organisation Network.

The Scottish Institute for Policing Research will also be meeting shortly with colleagues in the Dutch Police Academy, the Centre for Police Studies in Belgium, the Norwegian Police University College, and others to discuss a programme of comparative research which will allow Scotland to learn from and contribute to discussions about policing in other parts of Europe.

The visibility of the SIPR as a critical mass of expertise has attracted further success through an additional £900K in external funding. This very much meets the expectations of the Scottish Funding Council whose funding of the Institute was intended to create the environment for capacity growth.

Looking to the future, the Institute is developing organisational relationships with the international academic community, developing a Graduate Programme in Policing in conjunction with the Scottish Police College, and exploring ways in which the reputation of, and the intellectual property within, Scottish Policing might be developed and shared with others. At the same time it is hoped that these relationships will bring international knowledge and good practice into Scotland.

Chief Constable Patrick Shearer, Vice-President of the Association of Chief Police Officers Scotland (due to be president from 1 April 2009), said "There is no doubt that the Scottish Institute for Policing Research has established itself as a credible reference point for knowledge improvement. The range of topics now being debated with the benefit of evidence from internationally recognised researchers is testimony to the desire for enhanced professional knowledge across the Scottish Police Service."

Individual comment from Professor Fyfe can be accessed by contacting him on 01382 384425, or Chief Constable Shearer on 01387 242201

Now you see it, now you don't; the science of CCTV surveillance. (10/11/08)

Every now and then, events occur that highlight how difficult the surveillance task can be. 'Just how did that protester dressed as a 'superhero' manage to scale that nearby public building in full view?' the press ask with incredulity. A recent topic in Psychology called 'change blindness' has shown that these lapses in perception are much more prevalent that people imagine. Two recent articles discuss the practical and theoretical psychological issues underlying this debate, one in The Police Journal and the other in Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies and Management*. Change blindness is a phenomenon that demonstrates the surprising inability of observers to spot large-scale changes in a visual scene. For example large sections of an image can be photo-shopped away without people noticing. Alternatively, conversation partners can be 'swapped' mid flow, again without the change being spotted. The keys to understanding the likelihood of a change being missed is the level of distraction evident in the task, coupled with the nature of the change. The first paper reviews the literature surrounding the underlying psychological phenomena. The second outlines the scope for research in these processes in a wider context for research spanning the police, policy makers and academic communities.

CCTV cameras

Practitioners themselves often report anecdotally that they spotted something 'out of the corner or their eye' or that a particular individual 'just looked out of place'. It is as if experienced surveillance personnel have a 'sixth sense'. To what extent though, is this faith in 'an instinct for detection' justified? Changes that are more attuned to our natural heritage are easier to spot (sudden movements from people for example), changes to inanimate objects are much harder (hence the difficulty of spotting unattended bags for example). The evolutionary psychology perspective views our skills as having evolved in the so-called 'hunter gatherer society' of small social groups, engaged in communal tasks. As we move towards a more complex and technological society our environment is less and less suited to our evolutionary adaptations: interactions are dehumanised and denaturalised. The digital environment becomes less predictable than the natural environment. The prism of the evolutionary approach not only helps explain perceptual phenomena, more importantly it presents an opportunity for developing solutions. Rather than expecting the human operator to adapt to the new technology, technological solutions should be designed and optimised around the human.

As digital imaging technology improves and camera technology drops in price, the scope of CCTV systems increases. Greater and greater pressure is placed on the observer of CCTV imagery to keep up with the ever increasing cognitive load. The role of cognitive psychology is to develop innovative solutions to assist in the presentation of relevant data and imagery and the exclusion of irrelevant material. The problem presents an opportunity for police and law enforcement agencies to set a new, multidisciplinary research agenda focused on relevant and pressing issues of national and international importance. Modern video technology can allow far more realistic training and testing scenarios to be created for research. Only by understanding the cognitive processes in these tasks better, particularly by understanding them in the real contexts of surveillance tasks, can law enforcement agencies hope to keep pace and overtake the developments of threats to security.

Both articles emphasise the role of organisations such as SIPR in enabling the knowledge exchange required to overcome the natural barriers to progress in research across diverse disciplines.

For more information, contact:

K. C. Scott-Brown and P. D. J. Cronin
Centre for Psychology, University of Abertay Dundee,
Bell St, Dundee, DD1 1HG
Tel. 01382 308590 e-mail
Tel. 01382 308592, e-mail

Bibliographic Details.

Scott-Brown, K. C., and Cronin, P. D. J. (2007), An instinct for detection: Psychological perspectives on CCTV surveillance. The Police Journal. 80 (4), 287-305.

Available, Online or in paper format.

Scott-Brown, K. C. & Cronin P. D. J. (2008) 'Detect the unexpected: A science for surveillance' Policing: An international Journal of Police Strategies and Management. 31 (3), 395-414.

Available, Online or in paper format.

Former Chief Constable appointed to Honorary Professorship (25/09/08)

Peter Wilson

Mr Peter Wilson, former Chief Constable of Fife Constabulary, has been awarded an Honorary Professorship in the School of Social and Environmental Sciences at the University of Dundee.

Mr Wilson retired from the police service in May 2008 after a very distinguished career that included being awarded the Queen Police Medal in 1998, being President of the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS) in 2005-06, and, from 2001 to 2008, Chief Constable of Fife Constabulary.

From 2005, Mr Wilson worked very closely with Scotland's universities by taking the lead on behalf of ACPOS for the establishment of the Scottish Institute for Policing Research (SIPR). The SIPR is a collaborative project bringing together researchers from 12 Scottish universities, led by the University of Dundee.

"The idea of a research institute for Scotland which could provide an evidence base on which to develop policing policy and practice originated with Mr Wilson and it was his commitment to this project that lead to the discussions with the Scottish Funding Council and a successful application under their Strategic Research Development Grant scheme," said Professor Nick Fyfe, founding Director of the SIPR.

"The result is a unique institute. There is no other policing research centre in the world that can boast such a wide-ranging partnership between the police and university research community."

Mr Wilson represented ACPOS on SIPR's Executive Committee until he retired and now chairs its international Advisory Committee.

Mr Wilson said "I am delighted that I will be able to continue making a contribution to the work of the Institute through the generous award of a Professorship by the University of Dundee. The imaginative collaboration between the Scottish Police Service and the University sector in Scotland has already been described as ground breaking by police organisations and universities across the world. I look forward to working with Professor Fyfe to demonstrate further the benefits of evidence based policing methods within Scotland, and to policing and academic communities internationally where there is great interest in what is being achieved."

During his police career Mr Wilson was also awarded an LLB from the University of Edinburgh and the Diploma in Applied Criminology from the University of Cambridge.

Conference explores Scottish policing in European context (29/08/08)

Scotland in the European dimension of policing will be the focus of a conference on Tuesday 2nd September featuring a number of high ranking police officers and academics from Scotland, England, Germany and The Netherlands.

The second annual research conference by the Scottish Institute for Policing Research (SIPR) will explore policing Scotland in the European context, according to Director Nicholas Fyfe, Professor of Geography at the University of Dundee.

"We have seen the growing importance that Scotland places on engagement with European nations," he explained.

"There is a long history of close co-operation between Scotland and European states on policing matters, particularly in relation to international criminal investigations and police training programmes."

While policing in Scotland and other parts of the UK have often looked across the Atlantic for new ideas and thinking, contributors to the plenary session of the conference will show from a number of different viewpoints how important it is to understand the significance of Europe for contemporary policing.

The morning's session will feature presentations by the Minister for Community Safety, senior police officers and academics, all exploring how developments in Europe create opportunities and challenges for law enforcement.

The afternoon will be devoted to three parallel sessions on police-community relations, evidence and investigation and police organisation.

The keynote address for the one-day conference will be delivered by Jurgen Storbeck, the Director General of Homeland Security in the Ministry of the Interior from the German state of Brandenburg, on changing challenges for homeland security in Germany and Europe.

Established in 2006 and supported by investment from the Scottish Funding Council and the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland, SIPR is a collaboration between 12 Scottish universities established to carry out high quality, independent research and to make evidence-based contributions to policing policy and practice.

For further information, please contact:
Dr. Nicholas Fyfe, Director, SIPR, University of Dundee at: 01382 384425
Or Graham MacDonell, Communications Officer, ACPOS at: 0141 435 1241

"Shoot/No Shoot" takes a step forward (20/05/08)

At the First SIPR Conference, the Police-Community Relations Network featured the "Shoot/No Shoot" project being undertaken by Paul Robertson, a PhD student at Abertay University. This was in its fairly early stages of development then, but Paul and his colleagues have been working hard to develop the software for use on a Nintendo Wii games console, and to make it far more realistic as a training tool for police to test firearms officers' performance in situations where a gun may need to be used.

For further information, see:
BBC Online

SIPR co-hosts Wildlife Crime Conference (11/12/07)

Wildlife Crime

Thirty of Scotland's leading Wildlife Crime authorities will be joined by experts from the Metropolitan Police and the RSPB for a Conference on 'Forensic Investigation of Wildlife Crime', which is being held on 13th December at the University of Strathclyde

The meeting, co-hosted by the Scottish Institute for Policing Research (SIPR), the Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime (PAW) and the Centre for Forensic Science at the University of Strathclyde, will hear from Wildlife Crime Officers, the Procurator Fiscal Services, and researchers from the Universities of Dundee, Glasgow and Strathclyde. Although this meeting has been planned for some months, its occurrence, immediately following the news of the killing of a rare sea eagle gifted by the people of Norway to Scotland, is very timely.

The speakers will be reflecting on the potential benefits of forensic science in the investigation of Wildlife Crime and the challenges (legal, investigative, organizational, educational, practical etc.) of providing the best service to the criminal justice system.

Michael Russell, Environment Minister, said, 'A crime against Scotland's wildlife is a crime against Scotland itself. I am determined to see incidents of bird poisoning, badger baiting and other appalling acts stamped out. I recently announced a review of the investigation and prosecution of wildlife crimes and look forward to seeing its results early next year. I encourage any initiative like this which will assist in the detection and successful prosecution of wildlife crime.'

James Govan, Senior Scientist (Biology) with the Scottish Police Services Authority Forensics Services, Glasgow, who initiated the meeting, said, 'The overall theme of the meeting is to assess the current contribution of Forensic Science to the investigation of Wildlife Crime in Scotland. Hopefully by the end of the day we will have answered the question of whether this meets with expectations and if not, what would be required to achieve a sensible Forensic Wildlife Crime strategy in Scotland.'

Professor Nicholas Fyfe, Director of SIPR, said, 'The prevention and prosecution of Wildlife Crime are areas where Scotland has made significant progress in recent years. Moreover, Wildlife Crime is now recognised as a problem that does not just affect wildlife and the natural environment but also has a major impact on communities and businesses that rely on nature and wildlife tourism. This meeting will provide an important opportunity for leading experts in their fields to identify the contribution of forensic science to fighting Wildlife Crime.'

Director of SIPR appointed Specialist Advisor to the Justice Committee of the Scottish Parliament (09/11/07)

Nicholas Fyfe has been appointed Specialist Advisor to the Justice Committee of the Scottish Parliament for their inquiry into the effective use of police resources. The inquiry has been established following the commitment of the Scottish Government to provide additional resources to recruit extra police officers. Key questions to be considered by the committee include:

  • How many police officers do police forces need to effectively tackle all elements of their work?
  • What is the role and remit of Chief Constables in prioritising resources?
  • Which traditional police functions should always be carried out by police officers and which can be carried out by others?
  • What role do police authorities or joint police boards play in determining policing priorities?
The report of the committee will be published early in 2008.

Review of DNA Procedures (26/09/07)

Associate Director, Professor Jim Fraser, has been chosen to lead a Scottish Government review of Scotland's procedures for keeping DNA samples from people accused of violent or sexual offences.

For further information, see:
The Herald BBC News Channel 4 News The Scotsman Scottish Government News

Press release announcing establishment of the Scottish Institute for Policing Research (14/11/2006).

Higher education to help police with their enquiries

A consortium of 13 Scottish higher education institutions (HEIs) has netted cash of more than £2.1 million to carry out research relevant to the needs of Scotland's police forces. The consortium has been offered the financial reward for their research proposal from the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) and the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS).

In addition to the Council's grant of £1.1 million and £1 million from ACPOS, the consortium will top this up with their contribution of £6.5 million. The collaboration of 13 HEIs, lead by the University of Dundee, will use the cash to set up the Scottish Institute for Policing Research.

The Institute's aims are to strengthen the evidence base on which police policy, practice, and training are developed; build policing research capacity in Scottish HEIs; and encourage and help the development of national and international links with other researchers, policy makers and practitioners involved in policing research.

The Institute's research will focus on three areas:

  • police-community relations - researchers will look at the relationships between the police and their communities including the policing of vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations, public order and conflict situations, as well as policing styles and consultation with the community;
  • evidence and investigation - this research will look at the role of police in the collection, analysis and effective use of intelligence and evidence in the investigation of crime and major incidents; and
  • police organisation - research in this area will centre on issues of management, policy, leadership, force structure and culture, and assess different approaches to policing and the relationships between police forces and other organisations.

SFC Chief Executive, Roger McClure said: "Everybody would like to see crime reduced, victims protected and criminals caught. I am delighted that the unique collaboration brings together for the first time the experience of Scotland's universities and its police."

Peter Wilson, Chief Constable of Fife Constabulary said, "The creation of the Scottish Institute for Policing Research is a major milestone for policing in Scotland. For the first time, through an imaginative collaborative effort with Scotland's world class universities, we will create an opportunity for the development of evidence-based analysis of what works in policing.

"While police practice and procedure has evolved over time, the objective assessment of our approach will be tested at an international level, leading to solid benchmarking and more effective use of resources. Our vision is to further the delivery of the highest standard of policing service for the people of Scotland."

Nick Fyfe, Director of the Scottish Institute for Policing Research and Professor in the School of Social Sciences at the University of Dundee, added: "The establishment of the Institute is a very important, exciting and timely development. Building on the wide-ranging expertise that exists within the consortium of 13 HEIs, the Institute will carry out high quality, independent research of relevance to the Scottish police service and which will enhance the international reputation and recognition of policing research in Scotland.

"By providing a single focus for the research community and the Scottish police service, the Institute will also facilitate the efficient and effective transfer of knowledge that is so important to developing sound, evidence-based policing policy and practice. At a time when issues of risk and security have never been so prominent and policing itself is undergoing significant change, the strategic need for research that addresses the complex issues and challenges that the police face has never been greater."

For further information from SFC, please contact:
Elizabeth Bell,
Communications Officer,
Tel: 0131 313 6560,

For further information from ACPOS, please contact:
David Steele
Communications Manager,
Tel: 0141 435 1240,

For further information from the Scottish Institute for Policing Research, please contact Roddy Isles, Head of Press, University of Dundee, Tel:01382 384910, email:

Notes to editors:

  • the consortium of HEIs involved in the Institute are: the Universities of Dundee, Aberdeen, Abertay, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Paisley, St Andrews, Stirling, Strathclyde, and Glasgow Caledonian University, Robert Gordon University, Napier University, Bell College. Attached in Annex A is an extract from the Institute's strategic planning explaining in greater detail the reason for its creation;
  • the funding will be spread over a four-year period, and will come from the Council's Strategic Research Development Grant (SRDG). The purpose of the SRDG is to strengthen areas of academic research that are of importance to Scotland, but do not receive funding or major levels of funding; and create opportunities to bring together existing strengths to continue to improve research quality and resources. SFC will administer the funding from ACPOS;
  • the Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council (SFC) is a non-departmental public body responsible to - but operating at arm's length from - the Scottish Executive. It distributes more than £1.5 billion of public funds annually on behalf of the Scottish Executive;
  • the Council provides financial support for learning and teaching, and research and associated activities in Scotland's 20 higher education institutions (HEIs). As well as providing financial support for learning and teaching in Scotland's 43 further education (FE) colleges, the Council provides resources to enable colleges to offer bursaries to students on non-advanced courses; and
  • the Council is responsible for working with Scotland's colleges and universities to develop strategies in support of ministerial priorities and securing coherent, high quality provision of further and higher education and supporting the undertaking of research. In addition, SFC has a statutory function to provide Scottish Ministers with advice and information on matters relating to further and higher education. It is also responsible for ensuring that the quality of further and higher education provision is assessed and enhanced, and is required to monitor the financial health of both sectors.