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

The INTERACT end of Project Conference will take place Tuesday 4th June 2024

Edinburgh Napier University, Sighthill Campus
9 Sighthill Court, Edinburgh, EH11 4BN

For more information visit here

BSL promo for the INTERACT conference.

Introducing the INTERACT project
Investigating New Types of Engagement, Response and Contact Technologies in

Lead institution: Edinburgh Napier

Principal Investigator: Prof Liz Aston

Project Co-investigators:
Prof Ben Bradford (UCL)
Dr Helen Wells (Keele University)
Prof Megan O’Neill (University of Dundee)

Research Fellows:
Dr Will Andrews (Keele University)
Dr Estelle Clayton (Edinburgh Napier University)

Funder: Economic Social Research Council (ESRC).

Project start date: September 2021

Date due for completion: September 2024

Research context:
INTERACT is a wide-ranging study of the use of technology in interactions
between the police and public. It explores recent shifts towards
technologically-mediated contact, to explore whether, and how, police
organisations can pursue their aims of providing a procedurally just experience
for users, and build legitimacy with various publics, whilst fundamentally
changing the nature and form of police contact.

Technologically-mediated contact may involve online and
digital reporting, social media, Body Worn Video and police Mobile Data
Terminals, for example.

The project will also benefit the academic community through
advancing current theorisation of procedural justice to take account of
technologically-mediated interaction and its compatibility with police
legitimacy. This, in turn, will broaden our understanding of the implications
of the digital age for the wider criminal justice system.


Research questions

How do the police and public experience and
perceive technologically mediated contact across the UK in a diverse range of

What is the potential impact of different types
of technologically mediated contact on police legitimacy for various publics?

What does ‘visible’ and ‘accessible’ policing
mean in the digital age, to both the police and various publics?

What is the role of technologically mediated
contact in building police legitimacy, and how can police organisations best
work towards this end?

How can theories of legitimacy and procedural
justice be developed such that they are applicable in times of rapid
technological development?


Research methodology

This project employs an innovative mix of qualitative and
quantitative elements and pursue a broad understanding of technologically
mediated police contact as both a policy and a public experience. A case
study approach is used, which is designed as a holistic study of digital
technology use in policing which will allow flexibility to explore changes
occurring over the coming years. Collaborating forces have been chosen
because of their varying sizes, approaches to introducing technology,
investment in procedural justice as a concept, location in different
jurisdictions in the UK, as well as a result of our established relationships
with those forces.

To explore experiences amongst different geographical and
interest communities we will select two regions within Scotland and two within
England, one rural and one urban in each case, within which to explore in-depth
how technologically mediated contact is experienced in these contexts.

Interviews will be conducted with senior police officers and
staff at national, regional and local levels to ascertain their reasoning
behind introducing and/or expanding technology in policing and how it is
intended to be used in practice.

Observations will take place with communications and contact
teams within each of our three partner forces, observing their activities in
carrying out this work to explore how formal policies are enacted in practice,
the impact of these policies on police communication with the public, and to
explore the meaning that technology holds for those who use it daily.
Observations of frontline staff in each force who use technology in their daily
work will be undertaken to explore the influence of police technology on
contact with the public.

We will also recruit two virtual communities, with a strong
online presence and a diffuse physical one, such as a community of interest
with particular needs in relation to police contact; these are the deaf
community and the autistic community. This qualitative component will utilise
interviews, extended observations and focus groups. This is a vital component
of our research due to its focus on how police contact is delivered and experienced.

Our quantitative component will be a series of online
experiments probing responses to technologically mediated police-public
interactions, both physical and online, exploring key procedural justice
concepts via a range of question types and reflecting the usual range of
demographic categories.

Information for Police Participants


Information for Public Participants


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INTERACT Project Publications


INTERACT Project Publications

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