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SIPR Small Research Grants

Research Activites | Scottish Institute for Policing Research

Four Awards, totalling £80,000, were made in November 2018:

• Dr Emma Fletcher,  University of Dundee  

Assessing Risk of Drug Death in People known to Substance Misuse Services – Supporting the D (Tayside Division) Local Approaches to Policing Prototype



Professor Nicholas Fyfe, University of Dundee

Dr Phyllis Easton, NHS Tayside

Superintendent John Wyllie, Police Scotland

Dr Stefano De Paoli, Abertay University

Dr William Graham, Abertay University

Dr Vered Hopkins, Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership

Dr Fiona Cowden, NHS Tayside

• Dr Karri Gillespie-Smith, University of Edinburgh
Moving towards Trauma-Informed policing: An exploration of police officer’s attitudes and perceptions towards Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)


Zara Brodie, Karen Goodall & Kimberly Collins, University of the West of Scotland

• Professor Lesley McMillan, Glasgow Caledonian University
Exploring & Evaluating the Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse in Scotland

• Dr Andrew Wooff, Edinburgh Napier University
The Special Constabulary in Scotland: Enhancing understanding of the motivations, roles and expectations of the Special Constable in Scotland

See below for further details on the Call, Review Process, and a Summary of each of these projects

Local approaches to policing

Local Approaches to Policing (LAP) is an ambitious and diverse programme of work being developed by Police Scotland in pursuance of Policing 2026. It seeks to encourage creative and evidence-based practice both at the level of front-line local service delivery, and in relation to the support and call handling systems that provide essential support for that work.

LAP provided the focus for a “sandpit event” that was organised by the PCR Brokering Team under the leadership of Dr Alistair Henry, University of Edinburgh, and held on 7th June, and for this Collaborative Project funding call that was attached to it.

Eligibility and the review process

Members of SIPR based at the 14 Universities in Scotland that make up the Collaboration were eligible to apply to this competition and applicants could be from the university sector, Police Scotland, or the Scottish Police Authority. Applications were eligible from single individuals/institutions or collaborative ventures involving more than one university and/or a partnership between the academic community and police service. 

An in-exhaustive list of the kinds of thing that could be supported through these grants included:

• A systematic review of evidence on a given topic and a process for promoting its use  

Series of workshops designed to disseminate existing research and/or forge links between different partners  

Practitioner fellowships and/or support for internships across agencies  

Small-scale collaborative research projects 

• Scoping work designed as a precursor to a larger external funding bid or collaborative research studentship application

• Larger pieces of new research and evaluation tailored to the Call

Strong evidence of collaboration (across disciplines or Universities, and/or involving police or partners) was expected.

SIPR Small Research Grant Competition 2014

Seven Awards were made in June 2014:

• Dr David La Rooy & Dr Ian Ferguson, Abertay University (with Dr Fiona Gabbert, Goldsmiths University, London) Developing a mobile App to support child interviewers.

• Dr Natalie Coull, Dr Ian Ferguson & Dr Allan MacLeod, Abertay University (with Stephen Lindsay, Dundee City Council, Criminal Justice Services) RIO (Remote Internet Observation)

• Professor Susan McVie, Professor Vernon Gayle & Heather Thomson, University of Edinburgh Police Crime and Intelligence Analyst Training

• Dr Oona Brooks, University of Glasgow Dual Reports of Domestic Abuse made to the Police in Scotland

• Professor Jim Fraser, University of Strathclyde Evaluation of the National Forensic Science Gateway

• Dr Liz Aston, Edinburgh Napier University & Professor Ken Scott, UWS Scoping Exercise for Safer Communities Evidence Matrix Scotland

• Dr Amanda Martindale, University of Edinburgh Accelerating professional judgement & decision making expertise: feedback and scenario-based training in crime scene examination

Review process

All applications were firstly reviewed by the Police Community Relations Network “Brokering Team (Steering Group) and then by the SIPR Executive Committee , both of which included senior academic and practitioner representatives. Two externally appointed reviewers from the College of Policing and a member of the International Advisory Commitee were also invited to comment. To ensure an open and fair process, academic reviewers were not allowed to comment on any bids from their own institution, and practitioners could not comment on any projects in which they were personally involved.

In assessing proposals,  the following were taken into account : 

• Evidence that the proposed project was demand-driven, with strong evidence of Practitioner support and aligned with the research priorities identified in the Police Community Relations Local Approaches to Policing sandpit;

• Potential for delivering impact and the legacy of the project in terms of influencing future policy and practice;

• The quality of the proposed collaboration between HEIs and Police Scotland, the Scottish Police Authority and/or other relevant partner organisations;

Overall value for money, including a cost-effective and credible work plan and a robust approach to evaluation.

Project summaries

Moving towards Trauma-Informed policing: An exploration of police officer’s attitudes and perceptions towards Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

 The aim of this study is to examine police attitudes and perceptions regarding ACEs and trauma-informed policing.  These lines of enquiry are crucial since intentional behaviour of police officers will be influenced by attitudes, subjective norms i.e. police culture and perceived behavioural control i.e. how much control officers believe they have over their practice (according to Theory of Planned Behaviour, Ajsen,1988; 1991).   Therefore, the first aim of this exploratory research is to evaluate and compare the attitudes of police officers who have and have not engaged in the Resilience screening towards the provision of TIC.  In order to evaluate the impact of this awareness training, this project will measure the attitudes of police officers from Ayrshire Division (who have engaged with the Resilience screening) towards people who have had ACEs. These will then be compared with a sample of officers from the Dumfries and Galloway Division, a geographically similar force who have not yet received any ACEs training. This will show whether the Resilience screening is effective in changing police officers’ attitudes towards ACEs.  Further, a series of focus groups will also be conducted with officers who have engaged in the Resilience screening to provide deeper insight into the experience of the resource, their perceptions of ACEs, as well as becoming a trauma informed service. These aims will be addressed through the following research questions: Research Question 1: a) What are the attitudes of police officers towards trauma informed policing following the Resilience screening and discussion?; b) What are the attitudes of police officers towards trauma informed policing who have not yet engaged with the Resilience screening and discussion?  Research Question 2: a) Do police officers feel the Resilience screening has changed their perceptions of ACEs?; b) What are the police officers’ perceptions towards becoming a trauma informed service?

Exploring & Evaluating the Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse in Scotland

The proposed research examines the Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse in Scotland (DSDAS) in the context of police community relations. The DSDAS allows applicants to request information as to whether a current of potential partner has an abusive past. Domestic abuse is an area where individuals are often reluctant to engage with the police, however within the DSDAS scheme those making applications have to proactively engage with Police Scotland. A relatively new scheme, very little research has been conducted, and none in Scotland. Using a procedural justice framework the project will investigate applicants’ confidence in the police, motivations to engage, and satisfaction with the process. It will also investigate local police officers’ experience of participating in, and administering the process, within a multi-agency approach. The project will utilise a mixed methods approach, employing quantitative analysis of police data on applications, and in-depth qualitative interviews with both applicants to the scheme and police officers administering the scheme in local divisions. Finding from the research will further knowledge on police community relations and build upon a number of recent improvements in policing in an area where historically engagement has not always been optimal.

The Special Constabulary in Scotland: Enhancing understanding of the motivations, roles and expectations of the Special Constable in Scotland

The project aims to support Police Scotland’s strategy 2026 by mapping the motivations, role(s) and expectations of Special Constables. Special Constables have been largely absent from academic policing discourse in Scotland, yet they are an important part of policing.  This project seeks to answer the following questions:

• What motivates Special Constables to volunteer for Police Scotland and does this vary depending on how long they have been a Special Constable?

• To what extent does the role of a Special Constable vary by geography and local policing area?

• To what extent does the culture towards Special Constables within Police Scotland enable/inhibit them? How could this be changed?

• What could be done to improve the current pathways between Special Constables and ‘regular‘ recruitment?

• What, if anything, will help support the development and retention of Special Constables in Police Scotland?

By using a mixed methodology, this study seeks to engage with Special Constables, police staff and police officers from across Scotland to provide evidence for Police Scotland in their delivery of the localism, inclusion and accountability stands of strategy 2026, supporting Police Scotland in the recruitment and retention of Special Constables.

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