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About the Centre

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About the Centre

The Centre exists to create and use knowledge through both research and education to improve policing for the public good. In this way, the Centre contributes to the work of police agencies as they adapt to a changing policing landscape, with its greater emphasis on evidence-based practice.  The programme of work includes:

  • Problem-solving research on topics as varied as cybercrime, citizens and police use of social media, witness identification, demand management, organizational and individual learning, leadership for public value.
  • A wide range of educational courses and qualifications from bite-sized informal learning which is free and available anywhere and anytime which supports continuous professional development, through to part-time PhD study – and lots in between. These can provide police officers and staff with formal qualifications and/or with continuing professional development. These include policing degrees and a Postgraduate Certificate in Evidence-based Practice
  • An innovative range of knowledge into practice activities on the front-line and across the police organisation, including evidence cafés, peer learning visits, workshops, conferences, and the secondment of police officers and staff into ongoing research projects.

The Centre is based in the Faculty of Business and Law and is also supported by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, though it works with all faculties and areas of the University.

Some activities of the Centre are open to all police officers and staff, working in the spirit of The Open University (to be open to people, places, methods and ideas). However, the Centre also works in a highly collaborative way with a partnership of 22 police forces, which help to shape and undertake the programme of activities.

Meet the team Policing Partners

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The Centre's work

Learning and education
The Centre offers a wide range of educational courses and qualifications. Open Educational Resources (OER) are free, informal short courses available on the internet (e.g. on a laptop, tablet or smartphone) which can provide police officers and staff with informal learning and/or with continuing professional development.

There are also more formal learning opportunities such as:

  • Studying for policing relevant degrees and management degrees or other related qualifications which can be studied alongside work commitments.
  • A Postgraduate Certificate in Evidence Based Practice, designed in consultation with partner police forces, specifically for police officers and staff.
  • Opportunities to officers and staff employed by one of the policing partner organisations to undertake part-time PhDs.

The Centre research is based on a genuinely collaborative working relationship, bringing together the key knowledge, skills and experience of academics with those of police practitioners in a co-research approach. This collaboration is valuable in identifying and analysing problems in order to improve policing. Research projects can come from a range of sources; police policy makers and practitioners may identify real-life, operational or organisational issues to research, or academics may suggest topics which will benefit from practical research.

Knowledge into practice
The Centre is concerned not only with creating new knowledge but also testing and exploring whether, when, how and why it works in practice. So the Centre has a range of innovative activities designed to maximise learning between members of the police, between police organisations, and between the police and academics.

Annual Report
The Centre for Policing Research and Learning's Annual Report is a record of the programme of work, the activities, outputs and achievements over 2022. With more than 80 OU academics working closely and collaboratively with 22 UK police agencies, the collaboration has a lively and ambitious programme concerned with education, research and knowledge into practice. The report gives some examples of the Centre's work in each area. Many of the activities and outputs of the Centre are free to use by any police agency or police individual (e.g. Open educational resources to support CPD and conferences) while the police agency partners have privileged access to design, shape and participate in the whole programme of work. 

Click below to view the latest annual report

Annual Report

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About the partnership
Representatives from all police agency partners and chaired by the police - jointly decides on the programme of work on education, research and knowledge exchange to embed research evidence in daily practice. The multiplier effect of the membership is considerable: activities and outcomes benefit all partners and the partnership also gain from a variety of sources, grants and funding.

Our 22 police agency partners

Avon and Somerset Police National Crime Agency
Bedfordshire Police Norfolk Constabulary
British Transport Police North Yorkshire Police
Cheshire Constabulary Police Scotland
Greater Manchester Police Police Service of Northern Ireland
Gwent Police South Yorkshire Police
Hampshire Constabulary Staffordshire Police
Hertfordshire Police Suffolk Constabulary
Lancashire Constabulary Thames Valley Police
Merseyside Police West Midlands Police
Metropolitan Police Service Wiltshire Police
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Get involved
Partners have shown, in “TripAdvisor” type sessions, and in discussion, that membership provides value for money in creating evidence-based practice, in providing new concepts and ideas with which to understand policing; and supporting practical changes to enhance operational and organizational performance.  Policing is informed by world-leading, cutting-edge research.  High-trust relationships allow for data sharing which makes research outputs and educational resources rigorous and relevant.     

If your force or policing organisation wishes to find out more about becoming one of the Centre's partners then please get in touch with the centre.


2023 Annual Report

This annual report features a selection of the work undertaken across 2023 which we consider to be highly relevant for the current policing environment.

15th May 2024
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