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Research Methods Training: Developing evidence-based policy and practice for North Yorkshire Police

Posted on 29 November 2016

Dr Nicola Moran (SPSW) delivers research methods training courses for officers and staff from North Yorkshire Police (NYP)

In October 2016, Dr Nicola Moran (SPSW) in conjunction with Professor Tracey Bywater (Health Sciences) and Jonathan Haslam (Institute for Effective Education) developed and delivered three one-day research methods training courses for officers and staff from North Yorkshire Police (NYP).  The training was aimed at middle/senior ranking police officers and staff and was intended to explore whether research methods training is useful and should be embedded in regular practice/service in order to increase the use of evidence-based practice and policy-making within the force.  Forty-two officers and staff attended the training, held at Aldwark Manor on 18-20 October. 

This work represents one element of the ‘Connect project’, a collaboration between the University of York and North Yorkshire Police, funded by the Home Office, HEfCE and the College of Policing through the Police Knowledge Fund (Sept 2015-March 2017).  Objective 1 of the bid was to ‘Build sustained capability amongst officers and staff to understand, critique and use research…  to integrate police officers and staff into the research process and to develop training modules that teach officers and policy makers research methods and to apply research in practical situations.’  (Connect bid).

The training consisted of six mini-modules:

  • Evidence, policy and practice
  • Qualitative research methods
  • Levels of evidence
  • Randomised controlled trials
  • Systematic reviews
  • Theories of change and logic models.

Each day also included a number of activities and opportunities for small group work and discussion. 

Analysis of the post-training feedback forms showed positive results.  For example, when asked ‘to what extent, if any, do you feel the training will lead you to increase your use of research/evidence to inform practice?’, of the 40 participants who completed a feedback form, 17 responded ‘a lot’, and 21 responded ‘a little’, with only 2 responding ‘not at all’.  When participants were asked how they would rate their knowledge of research methods prior to attending the training and once they had undertaken the training, the number reporting low knowledge (1-3 on a 10 point scale) reduced from 11 to 1, the number reporting a mid-level knowledge (4-7) reduced from 24 to 14, and the number reporting a high level of knowledge (8-10) increased from 5 to 25. 

NYP officers and staff were enthusiastic and engaged well with the training.  Feedback from participants included ‘the lecturers are passionate about what they do’, ‘[it’s] useful to have a wider understanding of ways of working, why research is needed/important’, and ‘Great day. Informative and very useful for role’.

To conclude, most participants experienced benefits in attending one of the Connect research methods training courses, with some experiencing more significant benefits than others.  This initial feedback shows the training to have been successful in its aims.  The follow-up Connect evaluation survey, to be circulated to all police officers and police staff within NYP in November/December 2016, may pick up any early impacts of the training on the undertaking and use of research and evidence by those who attended the training compared to those who did not. 

Notes to editors:

Nicola Moran - Profile

Nicola joined the Department for Social Policy and Social Work in 2015, following a period of nine years working in the Social Policy Research Unit (SPRU). She has worked on the National Evaluation of Sure Start (NESS), the national evaluation of the individual budgets pilots in adult social care (IBSEN study), and the evaluation of the impact and outcomes of Individual budgets on carers (IBSEN-Carers study). Nicola also worked on international projects looking at financing long-term care and also at the impact of caring on family carers. Her recent work includes working along side colleagues at RMIT, Melbourne, Australia to explore the information support needs of those using individualised funding in England and Australia.  New research projects are being planned with colleagues at RMIT and Newcastle University (Australia).