Research Activities

SIPR Small Grants - 2014 Awards

Developing a mobile App to support child interviewers

An evidence based interviewing technique to aid in the interviewing of children already exists - the NICHD Protocol (see However, applying good practice requires the interviewer to follow a complex procedures and can sometimes lead to crucial evidence being missed, and interviews judged as being inconclusive. This project will develop and evaluate an App for iPads/mobile phones which can be used during a forensic interview to help lead interviewers through the important stages and facilitate a natural flow. The work will act as a "pump-primer" for a much larger Horizon 2020 funded collaborative project involving Prof. Ursula Boser of Heriott-Watt University, and Mirjam Blaak of Defence for Children (Netherlands): the Horizon 20/20 project will address the process of translating interviews into European Languages, and making the translated versions easily available as downloadable Apps. The first stage is to create an English Language version which is the purpose of this application. Creation of the 'electronic version' of the NICHD Protocol will enhancing the UK and international visibility of SIPR.

RIO (Remote Internet Observation)

Convictions in Scotland for possession and distribution of indecent images of children rose by 75% between 2010/11 and 2012/13 (COPFS 2014). Internet access is increasingly being seen as a normal part of our daily activities, and indeed a civil liberty in England (Bowcott, 2012) and it may be that, in the near future, wholesale denial of Internet access to offenders may be seen as disproportionate by Courts and the Parole Board for Scotland. The need to provide a low-cost, effective solution to the problem of monitoring Internet access is therefore increasing.

The aim of this project is to produce a prototype of a physical device to enable remote monitoring of Internet traffic from all broadband enabled devices in a home.

Using existing techniques for network monitoring in the work place, we will develop and evaluate a proof of concept device that will replace the broadband or cable 'router' in the home of the individual under observation. This device will provide secure logging of all Internet activity that is transparent to users, including offenders, while also preserving the confidentiality of, for example, banking transactions or client email contact with a legal representative.

Police Crime and Intelligence Analyst Training

The aim of this project is to develop a two day training course that will be delivered to new and existing Crime and Intelligence Analysts working within Police Scotland through the Scottish Police Training College at Tulliallan. The main objectives of the training course will be to: a) build capacity in quantitative skills amongst Police Analysts by teaching them about techniques they have never or rarely used; b) build confidence amongst Police Analysts in their ability to conduct analysis and to interpret it accurately; and c) to identify new ways in which Police Analysts could analyse and present their own data in the course of their current role that would both enhance their own career development and provide valuable additional information to Police Officers who are engaged in the role of keeping people safe within Scotland.

This project will build on a previous pilot project in which basic level training was provided in 2011 in collaboration with Crime Analysts in the legacy Fife Constabulary, funded by a Knowledge Exchange grant from the University of Edinburgh and working in partnership with SIPR; and on a knowledge exchange event held in early 2014 titled 'Statistical Modelling for Qualitative Researchers' that was funded by the Applied Quantitative Methods Network (AQMeN) Research Centre and run in partnership with Police Scotland. Evaluation of the initial basic level training course showed that, although 73% of those who attended scored the workshop as 'very' or 'fairly useful, there was mixed feedback about the level at which the course was pitched and the likelihood of the analysts going on to use the techniques that were taught. Despite being a basic level course, some participants found the course too complex and difficult to follow, while others thought it was too simple. There was also criticism that some of the techniques being taught did not seem relevant to the work that the Analysts were doing on a day-to-day basis.

The previous training was very helpful in terms of identifying gaps in skills and capacity, but it was not possible within the scope of that limited project (working with only one Scottish police force) to develop a fully tailored training course that would meet the needs of Police Analysts with different levels of skill and experience. In addition, there have been major changes to the structure and population of Crime Analysts in Scotland since the establishment of Police Scotland; therefore, this is an ideal opportunity to work in partnership with the Scottish Police Training College to develop training that can be integrated into the College's established programme of training. In the longer term, we would anticipate that these courses would be of sufficient benefit to Police Scotland (and forces elsewhere) that they could be offered and developed on a commercial basis, thus generating income for the University of Edinburgh, as AQMeN will maintain intellectual property rights over the course materials and delivery methods.

Dual Reports of Domestic Abuse made to the Police in Scotland :a pilot research study

Dual reporting of domestic abuse occurs where both partners are reported simultaneously as the perpetrator and the victim of domestic abuse. Such reports present a particular challenge to police responses to domestic abuse since they provide the police with potentially conflicting accounts from the two parties involved.

The specific objectives of the pilot study are:
To establish the number and proportion domestic abuse incidents recorded by the police as dual reports of domestic abuse.
To gain an understanding of the nature of dual report incidents by analysing police data (e.g. type of incident reported, who it is reported by, locus of incident, use of weapons, use of alcohol or drugs, injury sustained).
To identify the police action taken in response to dual report incidents.
To explore the possibility of identifying a sample of cases for in-depth qualitative analysis based on the narrative contained within crime reports, for the next stage of the research.

Evaluation of the National Forensic Science Gateway

One of the primary aims of the creation of the Scottish Crime Campus at Gartcosh, was the integration of criminal justice agencies in order to improve service provision on a national scale. Currently, a key area for consideration is more effective and efficient provision of forensic science to the Scottish criminal justice system. To address this issue, a central hub for allocation of resources and prioritisation of forensic work is being implemented introducing multi-agency decision making- the Forensic Gateway. Given that this approach is a significant departure from previous practices, there is an agreement on the part of the main stakeholders, that a formal evaluation is essential, to assess the effectiveness of the Gateway. This proposal aims to deliver this evaluation.

Scoping Exercise for Safer Communities Evidence Matrix Scotland

The aim of the proposed bid is to provide seedcorn funding to expand the Scottish Local Policing Evidence Database (SLoPED) into a larger project, the Safer Communities Evidence Matrix Scotland (SCEMS).

The Scottish Local Policing Evidence Database analyses research evidence through a two-dimensional matrix. One relates to the policing principles enshrined in the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012, i.e. community engagement, crime reduction and partnership working. The other focuses on methodology, which may be conceptual, non-experimental or experimental in nature. The database has been populated with key messages from relevant sources.

The aim is to expand the Database beyond policing, into areas which relate to the wider community safety arena, as the Safer Communities Evidence Matrix Scotland (SCEMS). This would involve developing a national evidence matrix which would be accessible to practitioner and policy communities and would bring together a range of evaluated research and evaluated and non-evaluated practice information.

Accelerating professional judgement & decision making expertise: feedback and scenario-based training in crime scene examination

The aims of this KE project are to provide individual feedback to Scene Examiners involved in the initial pilot work exploring PJDM in Scene Examination (which was funded by a University of Edinburgh KE grant) and to develop a simulation scenario training tool as a means of accessing and documenting expert knowledge in Scene Examination.

To meet these aims, the main questions this project will address are 'What are the benefits and limitations of individual feedback on Applied Cognitive Task Analysis?' and 'How can expert knowledge accessed via a simulation scenario be packaged to facilitate ongoing professional learning?'