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Information for Public 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):

Prof Liz Aston:            
Megan O’Neill:
Dr Helen Wells:
Dr Will Andrews:            
Dr Estelle Clayton:

REC Reference Number: 2022-0163-112

You are participating, or have recently participated, in research that examines 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. Our project aims to look at how the police and the public feel about new technologies and how they may change the way that people interact with and feel about each other.

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.

You have also been provided with a short-form information sheet and details of your consent on an A5 ‘postcard’ which included details of how to contact the researcher and find further information on the project.

Research Summary
The project involves observations, by the researchers, of members of the public who are involved with the police in a way that includes one of the technologies listed above. This involves observing the interactions between the public and officers who work in local or response policing roles. An ‘observation’ means that one of the researchers was present while you were involved in a police interaction and may have taken notes  or asked you questions. We will have asked for your verbal consent at the time of the observations. Only where verbal consent was given will we have made notes of our observations.

We will also be inviting some of those we observe to take part in focus groups or follow up interviews to help us understand their 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).

Why is my interaction with the police being observed?
Your interaction with the police is being observed because your contribution will help us to understand public experiences of contact with the police, particularly where those interaction involve technology.  

Do I have to take part?
Participation is entirely voluntary, if you have already been observed and you wish to be removed from the study, please talk to the researcher or contact them via the email address provided and any notes about your interaction with police, will be removed.   

Following your interaction with the police, you can withdraw your data from our study at any time up to four months after the interaction, you do not have to provide a reason for this. Once the data analysis process has begun it will not be possible for you to withdraw your data from the study.

What will happen if I agree to take part?
An observation means that one of our team is present whilst you have an interaction with the police.y. The researcher will be taking notes regarding this interaction, and they may ask you questions about your experiences.

We may approach some of the people we have observed to participate in a focus group or a follow up interview at a later date, so that we can better understand your experiences. You are free to agree to an observation and a follow up interview/focus group. You are free to agree to an observation but not a focus group or interview. Full information about interviews and focus groups will be made available to you, upon your request, 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. Nothing that we observe you saying or doing will be attributable to you in any presentations, publications, or research outputs. When conducting observations we are as discrete as possible and do not seek to interrupt or interfere with the interaction in any way.

What are the possible advantages or benefits (if any) of taking part?
The purpose of the research is to better understand if and when technology affects situation where the police and the public interact with each other. We are seeking to understand the challenges and opportunities of these developments from the perspective of members of the public who experience these types of contact. 

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 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 do have 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. All fieldnotes will be anonymised at the point of note-taking, which means your name and personal details will not appear in our fieldnote data, however, we are not exempt from being called as a witness by the COPFS/CPS or by defence lawyers, in this instance we will comply with all lawful requests to do so.

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 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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