Police reform, research and the uses of ‘expert knowledge’

authors Nicholas R. Fyfe
  Neil Richardson
journal EJPS (ISSN: 2034-760X)
volume Volume 5
issue Special Issue: Police-Academic partnerships: Working with the police in policing
section Articles
date of publication April 10, 2018
language English
pagina 147
keywords Knowledge, police, Evaluation;, research;, Reform;

This paper examines the interplay between research and police reform. Focussing on the creation of
Scotland’s national police force in 2013 it examines the role of research as ‘expert knowledge’ in the
political and policy debate leading up to the reform and the on-going evaluation of the impacts and
implications of the new police force. The paper also situates the relationship between research and
reform in the context of the role played by the Scottish Institute for Policing Research, a strategic
collaboration between Scotland’s universities, Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority.
The analysis is informed at a conceptual level by the work of Boswell and her consideration of the
different ways in which bureaucratic organisations make use of expert knowledge. This focuses
attention on both instrumental uses (ensuring decisions are based on sound reasoning and empirical
understanding) and symbolic uses where knowledge plays a role in enhancing legitimacy or helping
substantiate policy preferences in areas of political contestation. These different uses of expert
knowledge have important implications for thinking about the role of police-academic partnerships.

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