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Targeted Rapid Research Call: Police Assaults

Research Activites | Applications due 23:59 Friday 18th June 2021.

Targeted Call – Rapid Research Project – Assaults on police officers

The Scottish Institute for Policing Research (SIPR) is providing funding to support a Rapid Research Project which will seek to understand the factors influencing assaults on police officers, how this might be prevented and how officers and families may be best supported.

As part of the #NotPartOfTheJob campaign, Police Scotland has identified that over the past five years reported assaults on police officers and staff have increased by over 22%. Last year between April and June 2020 there were 20 reported assaults per day.

A 2019 rapid evidence review conducted by SIPR sought to explore some of the driving factors behind these statistics as well as identify potential measures which may reduce risk (see Appendix A). This report provided several recommendations for further research including:

• More complete literature review or full systematic review of research within this area;
Conduct research to understand how police staff report assaults and what could be done to improve this, such as:

1. Understanding current policies and procedures for reports of this nature;
2. Exploring whether officers feel comfortable reporting experiences of assaults; and
3. Exploring the extent to which police officers perceive that assaults are “part of the job”.
Undertaking analysis of police data on assaults along with data from the Scottish Government’s Crime and Justice Survey e.g. to specifically examine responses from police officers and their experience of crime.

In 2020/21 Police Scotland undertook internal research with officers exploring officers’ experiences of assault including reporting particularly focussing on whether officers felt supported by Police Scotland in the reporting and handling of their case. Some of the key findings from this analysis identified the need to develop:

• Support which is available for supervisors and management teams to manage wellbeing and mental health, creating supportive environments and asking the right questions to focus on the needs of the individual – where people feel safe to talk about how they are feeling and what affects them;
• Creating workplace and culture for social spaces that encourages peer interaction, building personal relationships, trust and support;
• Tracking the patterns of repeat assaults and why these might happen to target improvements and prevention. Also, we must raise colleague awareness and understanding of the value of reporting incidents, so we have a true picture for managing safety and wellbeing effectively;
• Equipping frontline officers and staff with good communication and engagement skills for diffusing confrontation and preventing an assault. This should be a consideration, particularly for repeated assaults.

SIPR and Police Scotland would like to invite individuals or teams of researchers with suitable expertise within this area to apply to undertake a Rapid Research Project regarding assaults on Police Officers and Staff.

The purpose of this project will be to conduct a review which explores existing national and international literature including academic papers, ‘grey literature’ and policy and practice in other forces. In particular, researchers should consider the following:

  • Consider findings of SPIR’s previous evidence review for Police Scotland (see Appendix) alongside Police Scotland’s internal research and analysis.
  • Build on this existing evidence to explore promising practice in the prevention of police officer assaults, along with undertaking an exploration of promising approaches in other police organisations. For example:
      • NPCC & College of Policing Police Safety Review 2020 (informed by the views of over 40,000 officers and staff in a national safety survey conducted by the College of Policing. The review was commissioned in response to concerns about rising assaults and increased violence against officers)
      • Sussex Police Standard Procedures 2021 – a recently published standard set of procedures by Sussex Police detailing their approach to investigating and recording assaults on police officers, special constables, police staff and volunteers
      • Fieldwork: this may involve meetings and interviews to follow up with a small number of key stakeholders, for example across policing and partner organisations in order to identify drivers and promising approaches for prevention and support.

 Parameters for the research project may include:

  • Trends in police assaults across UK and international jurisdictions (with potential comparative analysis of other blue light services);
  • Explore the drivers of assaults – societal and tolerance levels (police perceptions on reporting);
  • Identify promising approaches to providing meaningful support to officers and their families; and
  • Identify promising approaches to prevention and training and development – health and wellbeing, policing styles and practice.

Information for applicants


Applications are welcome from researchers with priority given to staff based at one of the 15 SIPR member universities.

We encourage interdisciplinary partnerships and proposals can be submitted by a single institution or across member institutions (and can include national and international academic and non-academic partners). Additionally, creative ideas which engage practitioners with research are particularly encouraged.


A maximum of £10,000 (including VAT) is available to one successful application. We welcome proposals which include co-funding from other sources.


All applications will be considered by the SIPR Executive Committee and will be assessed against the following criteria:

• Suitability of investigative team
• Appropriateness of scope proposed methodology (i.e. to effectively explore research questions posed); and
• Feasibility (i.e. ability to delivery outcomes within timescales);

Application Process

Applicants are required to complete the SIPR application form including the following information:

• Proposed team information (including host institution, collaborators, and a brief summary of experience and expertise in the proposed topic. You may include a two page CV per named investigator);
• Details of the project including background, research questions, literature to consider, and proposed methodology; and
• Brief overview of timeframes


Applications are welcome from researchers with priority given to staff based at one of the 14 SIPR member universities.

Only one application is permitted from the same applicant for this call. The PI can be included as a Co-investigator in one further application as long as the two applications are not linked.

This is a rapid research project and as such the successful team must be in place to commence the evaluation project no later 1st July 2021 and complete the project by 30th September 2021.

Applicants will also be required to report where this funding has enabled the generation of external income as well as where this project has been included as an impact case study.


Given the rapid nature of this research, all applicants must be able to commence the project by 1st July 2021 with an aim to have the project completed and the final report submitted by 30th September 2021.

Call open
Friday 21st May 2021
Application Deadline
Friday 18th June 2021
Awarding panel meet
Wednesday 23rd June 2021
Successful applicants notified
Thursday 24th June 2021
Latest date to commence project
Thursday 1st July 2021
Latest date for project completion
Thursday 30th September 2021

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