Supporting the Citizens in Policing Network

Project Details


The Institute for Public Safety, Crime and Justice (IPSCJ) at the University of Northampton (UoN) has supported and influenced the development of the ‘Citizens in Policing’ national portfolio, enabling evidence-based strategy and practice in respect of police volunteering programmes, underpinned by the largest-scale research programme undertaken in this field. Working closely with the National Police Chiefs’ Council, Home Office, College of Policing, and individual police forces across the country, the programme of applied research has shaped national strategy across more than 38,000 volunteers in Special Constabularies, Police Support Volunteers, Volunteer Police Cadets and the Mini Police, driving evidence-based changes in strategy, leadership and innovation both nationally and at a local police force level.

The applied research programme centred on:
1) Pioneering new research approaches into volunteer experience, addressing major gaps in research knowledge relating to experiences and perspectives of volunteers in policing. This has involved developing new practical insight into motivations, experiences and activities of those who volunteer in order to evidence improvement and innovation in volunteer attraction, engagement, experience and retention.
2) Developing evidence on ‘what works’ in efficacy and innovation across a diversity of different police volunteer programme settings. This developed new knowledge in respect of leadership, culture, integration, and organisation of police volunteering programmes which has served both to drive service innovation and improvement and to create an evidence-base for enhanced strategy and leadership across police volunteering.

In 2017, IPSCJ, partnering with the national ‘Citizens in Policing’ portfolio, was awarded a two-year (2017-2019) Home Office Police Transformation Fund grant of £545,000 to deliver research-based transformational change across ‘Citizens in Policing’. This work encompassed nineteen service transformation projects with IPSCJ as the research and evaluation partner. The projects included four initiatives to evaluate different new forms of police volunteer (including projects in Plymouth, Newcastle, North Yorkshire and Avon and Somerset). Other projects worked to identify best practice in Employer Supported Policing, to undertake national data benchmarking surveys across all police forces, to evaluate practice in specialist volunteer roles across the Special Constabulary, to pilot Paramedic-Special Constabulary collaboration, to pilot career pathways in the Special Constabulary, to research pathways between volunteer and paid roles, to pilot a new Special Constabulary online recruitment platform, and to undertake the first national evaluation of the Mini Police programme.

The national work and profile of the IPSCJ in the field of police volunteering has generated international interest, leading to international collaboration with academic colleagues in the United States, Scotland and Malaysia. In 2019, an ESRC-AHRC SSH Connections Grant was awarded to explore synergies within volunteering in law enforcement and public safety in the UK and Japan. A central purpose was to share knowledge between academics, professionals, and policymakers, with the evidence base being underpinned by research.
Effective start/end date3/04/17 → …


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