Research Activities

SIPR Small Grants - 2017 Awards

Four Awards were made in July 2017:

  • Andrew Woof, Edinburgh Napier University 
    Rural policing in Scotland: measuring and improving public confidence

  • Rhonda Wheate and Elaine McLaughlin, University of Strathclyde 
    A confident approach in responding to domestic abuse within South Asian communities - laying the foundations for the Police 2026 Strategy

  • Liz Aston, Edinburgh Napier University and Megan O'Neill, University of Dundee 
    Public confidence and police visibility: a systematic review

  • Jennifer Murray and Inga Heyman, Edinburgh Napier University 
    Law enforcement and public health: Assessing risk and vulnerability


See below for further details

Rural policing in Scotland: measuring and improving public confidence

This project aims to support Police Scotland's strategy 2026 by providing empirical evidence of public confidence in the police in rural Scotland. Rural policing has been largely absent in the policing literature, yet it has become an increasingly important focus for Police Scotland. Rural environments can be challenging to police and often require distinct approaches to help support and improve public confidence. Maintaining and improving public confidence is a key part of Policing Strategy 2026. The aim is to inform this agenda by:

  • Investigating what factors influence public confidence of the police in rural Scotland;
  • Critically evaluating whether policing style impacts on public confidence in rural Scotland;
  • Assessing the way that efficiency is balanced against visibility across different rural contexts, and for different communities and stakeholders;
  • Critically examining the way(s) that the police improve public confidence across diverse rural communities, including amongst those living in deprived rural locations.

By selecting two separate policing divisions and four case studies in total, this qualitative project will engage with a range of types of rural community to provide evidence for Police Scotland in their delivery of the localism, inclusion and accountability strands of strategy 2026.


A confident approach in responding to domestic abuse within South Asian communities - laying the foundations for the Police 2026 Strategy

Recently completed research (2017) by Dr Elaine McLaughlin entitled 'South Asian Immigrant Women & Domestic Abuse in Scotland: An uncertain legal status and no recourse to public funds' identified numerous difficulties domestically abused women from a South Asian background encounter when requiring help, support and protection from the Police. This research involved a socio-legal study concerning marriage migrants living in Scotland on a Spouse Visa. The research highlights the successes and challenges faced by police officers when dealing with domestically abused South Asian women with an insecure immigration status.

As practitioners we are aware of the service that Police Scotland provides to victims of domestic abuse and the confidence the police have in the current system. What we want to know is whether domestically abused South Asian women enjoy the same confidence. The research team propose therefore to examine the interaction of domestically abused South Asian women with the police.

Listening to domestically abused South Asian women will identify the vulnerabilities engulfing them and what they require to increase their confidence in the police when experiencing domestic abuse. Ultimately It is hoped that the confidence of both parties be built in preparation for the implementation of the Policing 2026 Strategy.


Public confidence and police visibility: a systematic review

This project is a systematic literature review of police methods in visible policing to establish the current evidence base in relation to how these affect public confidence. This review will represent the first stage of programme of work investigating visible policing in Scotland. The focus for this project emerges from ongoing collaborations between the researchers and Police Scotland from within the Research and Operational Review Group (REORG), the Stop and Search Strategic Group (SSSG), the National Violence Prevention Board (NVPB) and conversations with the chair of the Public Confidence Steering Committee. The findings from the literature review will be used to provide guidance on current operational practice in visible policing to enhance public confidence as well as lay the groundwork for a larger study of effectiveness in visible policing methods.


Law enforcement and public health: Assessing risk and vulnerability

Both Police Scotland's and the NHS' 10-year strategies envisage enhanced partnerships to effectively support vulnerable people and communities. One quarter of people in the UK have mental health problems (McManus et al., 2009), and mental health problems account for 28% of the UK disease burden (Ferrari et al., 2013). Further to this, 28% of detainees in England and Wales were identified as vulnerable, requiring an appropriate adult in police custody; though only 4% received this. Given that the police are the most publicly visible criminal justice agency, with the highest levels of contact with the public, it is clear that their decision making around vulnerability and public health must be as effective as possible. Understanding the decision-making processes when managing risk and vulnerability is therefore imperative. Supporting the development of cross-sector working across public health and Police Scotland is a core mechanism in achieving enhanced partnerships and supporting the management and decisions around vulnerable individuals and mental health. While there has been an evolution in international law enforcement and public health (LEPH) practices, the operational development of such an initiative in Scotland is scant. This project aims to identify and develop a co-constructed planned programme of LEPH research, leading to a systematic review in a priority area. We will bring together interdisciplinary and agency key stakeholders whose remit will be to develop this planned programme of work, capitalising on research opportunities of urgent relevance to frontline services.

  • Convene a cross-sector expert advisory group (EAG) in an event specifically intended to identify key research priorities around policing and public health. These identified research areas will then be prioritised by the EAG as areas likely to have greatest impact on service delivery and reorganisation, and by improvements in outcomes for people. Collaborative policing and public health special interest working groups will then be identified with remits to seek subsequent external funding opportunities.

  • Conduct a systematic review of the literature, the topic of which will emerge from the EAG identified research priority areas. This is envisaged to broadly be in the area of vulnerability/mental health decision making within the LEPH context.

  • Scoping and developing a follow-on Nuffield Foundation grant application.