Can and Should the Police Solve More Crime?

11th February 2009

Organised by ESRC/The Police Foundation the Scottish Institute for Policing Research and Universities' Police Science Institute, Cardiff University.

There is a certain symbolism and rhetoric that has attached itself to representations of policing that portrays the police role as principally concerned with crime-solving. Suffused with a culturally freighted ratiocinative myth of the indefatigable detective, this positions the investigation and detection of crime at the core of the police function. Social research studies on the practices of crime investigation have though suggested a markedly different picture, repeatedly finding that the single most important determinant of success in police investigations is the quantity and quality of information provided by members of the public to the police.

More recently, there have been a number of significant innovations in the conduct of crime investigation work that at least in principle, afford the potential to improve the conduct and efficacy of police crime investigations. Thus rather than 'solving' crime, police are increasingly adopting a role of 'crime managers'.

The purpose of the seminar was to investigate how much crime and of what types do the police actually 'solve' in terms of obtaining a conviction, and whether the police can solve more crimes?

'What is policing for? Examining the impact and implications of contemporary policing intervention A report of the series of Public Policy Seminars organised by the ESRC in collaboration with SIPR, The Police Foundation, and the Universities' Police Science Institute

Programme and Presentations

  • Welcome and setting the scene. Ms Barbara Wilding, Chief Constable of South Wales Police

  • Mr Denis O'Connor, Acting Chief Inspector of Constabulary
    Presentation (pdf) [92 Kb]

  • Professor Mike Maguire, Professor Cardiff and Glamorgan Universities
    Presentation (pdf) [36 Kb]

  • Professor Robin Williams, Professor Emeritus, Durham University
    Presentation (pdf) [484 Kb]

  • Ms Sally Burke, Chief Superintendent, South Wales Police
    Presentation (pdf) [520 Kb]