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Information for Police Participants


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Investigating New Types of Engagement, Response and Contact Technologies in Policing

Information Sheet

Name and Contact Details of Researcher(s):

Dr Helen Wells:                                    
Prof Liz Aston:

Dr Megan O’Neill:
Dr Will Andrews:                           
Dr Estelle Clayton:

REC Reference Number: 2022-0163-112

You are being invited to consider taking part in research which will examine how contact between the police and public is being changed by new technologies. The public are increasingly likely to encounter the police in ways that are ‘technologically mediated’ by technologies such as online reporting, where body worn video cameras or mobile data terminals are used, and via social media accounts. This project will explore both police and public perceptions and expectations of these developments, considering what it means for the police to be ‘visible’ and ‘accessible’ in a digital age, and the impact of these changes on police legitimacy.

Before you decide whether you may wish to take part, we invite you to read this Information Sheet and ask us any questions that you may have. Please feel free to discuss what you have read with others.

Research Summary
The project involves observations, by the researchers, of police officers involved in the frontline of contacts between the police and public that include one of more of the technologies listed above. This involves observing officers who work in local policing or roads policing/response roles who use technology in interactions with the public. An ‘observation’ means that one of the research team will be present while you are working and may take notes and ask questions of you to enable them to understand your role and what you are doing. We do not intend to interrupt your work in any way, or make you feel uncomfortable.

We will also be inviting some of those we observe to take part in follow up interviews to help us understand their roles and experiences more fully (this will happen at a later date, and you will be provided with a second information sheet relevant to that aspect of this project).

Alongside these observations, we will also be engaging with members of the public through observing their interactions with you. We will ask their permission to be included in the study during your interaction. They will be provided with their own information sheet and we will seek consent from them. We will ask for privacy when we are asking questions of members of the public, except where to do so would interfere with police procedure or pose any risk.

Why have I been invited to participate in this study?
You have been invited to participate in this part of this study because you have a day-to-day role in local policing or response policing that involves contact with the public via some form of digital technology, and because you have that role in one of the three police forces that have agreed to be a part of this study. Your contribution will help us to understand the process of digital contact with the public, as well as the experiences of people like yourself working in these roles at the frontline.

Do I have to take part?
Participation is entirely voluntary, and you are free to decide whether you wish to take part or not. The fact that your organisation has agreed to be a research site for this research does not mean that you must take part. You will only be approached if your supervisor/line manager has already indicated that they consent for this research to take place, in principle. You retain the right to refuse participation at any time without penalty. If you do decide to take part, you will be asked to sign the attached consent form which confirms that you have read and understood this information sheet.

What will happen if I agree to take part?
If you agree to take part, you will be contacted by a member of the research team to establish when you are working, and how we can organise an observation. An observation means that one of our team will be present when you are working and may take notes about what you do. We may ask occasional questions to help us understand what we observe, but we will not be reporting on your work to your supervisors or colleagues or assessing your performance in any way. If you work in a team, we may be observing several team members at any one time. We will not interrupt or in any way hinder your work. We will follow your directions at scenes, and at any moment where you would like the observation to stop we will cease the research activity. We will undertake our work according to a risk assessment agreed by our respective universities and the police service with which you work. We will not in any way interfere with police procedure or place you, ourselves, or members of the public at risk.

The observations are planned to take place between September 2022 and December 2022. We may approach some of the people we observe to participate in a follow up interview later, so that we can better understand their role and experiences. You are free to agree to an observation and a follow up interview. You are free to agree to an observation but not a follow up interview. You are free to agree to neither an observation nor a follow up interview. Full information about interviews will be made available to you to help inform your decision.

Observations will be conducted by one of the research team (Dr Will Andrews or Dr Estelle Clayton).

What are the possible disadvantages, burdens, and risks (if any) of taking part?
There are no specific risks associated with taking part. We will follow all recommendations set out in our risk assessment, and will not interfere with your duties, or in any way place you, ourselves, or members of the public at risk. If you believe our presence is posing a risk, we will follow your guidance. Nothing that we observe you saying or doing will be attributable to you in any presentations, publications, or research outputs and it will not be shared amongst your teams. We will not communicate with your supervisors/line manager about your work. We will be as discreet as possible whilst observing your work and will not seek to interrupt or interfere with your work in any way.

What are the possible advantages or benefits (if any) of taking part?
The purpose of the research is to better understand the process of engagement with the public via new forms of technology, as well as to better understand those with a role in delivering these new forms of contact. We are seeking to understand the challenges and opportunities of these developments from the perspective of those who deliver them. Participants will also be contributing to research that aims to shape the future of technologically-mediated contacted between police and public, and to understand their impacts on police legitimacy.

Will my data be kept confidential?
Your data (your identity, contact information, and notes taken during an observation) will be anonymised and stored securely on a password protected computer and University server. It will be accessible only by the research team. When it is no longer required, the data will be securely destroyed.

Your name and role will be replaced by a pseudonym when fieldnotes are taken, and this pseudonym will be used in the writing-up of the research. An anonymisation key will be kept that will allow the research team to identify notes relating to you in case you wish to withdraw from the research. Nothing you say will be attributable to you in any information relayed in the presenting of the research, including in any subsequent publications or research outputs.

We are obliged to work within the confines and expectations of current legislation over such matters as privacy and justified confidentiality, data protection and human rights. Offers of confidentiality may, therefore, sometimes be overridden by law. For example, in circumstances whereby we are concerned over any actual or potential harm to yourself or others we are lawfully obliged to pass this information to the relevant authorities.

You can find out more about how we will use and store your personal information here: We will retain your personal information (in the form of an anonymisation key that relates to the pseudonym given to you in the research) for 4 years, and your consent form for 6 years. After this time has lapsed respectively this information will be securely destroyed. Anonymised and redacted data may be archived in line with the expectations of the Economic and Social Research Council for possible use by other researchers in future research. No personal data will be transferred outside of the United Kingdom and not automated profiling of your data will take place. If you are not satisfied with our response or believe we are processing your data in a way that is not lawful you can complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office at:

What will happen if I don’t want to carry on with the study?
You can cease participation in an observation at any time or withdraw your data from the study at any time up to four months following your participation. You can do this without reason if you do not wish to provide one. If you do withdraw from a study after some data have been collected, you will be asked if you are content for the data collected thus far to be retained and included in the study. If you prefer, the data collected will be destroyed and not included in the study. Once the data analysis process has begun it will not be possible for you to withdraw your data from the study.

What if there is a problem?
If you have a query, concern, or complaint about any aspect of this study, in the first instance you should contact the researcher(s) if appropriate. The contact details for the researchers are detailed on page 1 of this information sheet. If your concern or complaint is not resolved by the researcher, you should contact the approving Research Ethics Committee Chair:

Edinburgh Napier Research Integrity:

Who is funding the research?
The research is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. No member of the research team will receive any financial reward by conducting this study, other than their normal salary as an employee of their university.

Who has reviewed the study?
Research involving human participants, such as this one, is reviewed in all universities by an ethics committee to ensure that the dignity and well-being of participants is respected. This study has been reviewed and approved by the Edinburgh Napier University Research and Integrity Committee. In turn, this has satisfied the Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty Research Ethics Committee at Keele University.

Thank you
Thank you for taking time to read this information sheet and for considering participating in this research. If you do agree to participate your consent will be sought via the accompanying consent form. You will then be given a copy of this information sheet and your signed consent form to keep.

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