ESRC and the College of Policing announce a university consortium to support What Works Centre for Crime Reduction

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the College of Policing have taken the first step in establishing stronger links with universities across the country as part of a three-year programme of work to build more evidence around what really works in reducing crime.

A consortium of eight universities has today been announced as the successful bidder for an ESRC grant, in partnership with the College of Policing, to support a programme for the What Works Centre for Crime Reduction.

The consortium includes expertise from University College London (UCL), the Institute of Education (IoE), the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Birkbeck, Cardiff, Dundee, Surrey and Southampton universities.

The government has selected the College of Policing to host the What Works Centre for Crime Reduction - part of a world-leading network of centres to guide decision-making in public services.

The commissioned partnership is co-funded by the College and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and will draw together a strong collaboration of leading UK universities, the police service and crime reduction partners.

The commissioned work will develop academic capacity within the UK to map the existing evidence base for crime reduction, label it for quality, cost and impact, and make it easily accessible for practitioners and decision makers.

Their work will also look to establish UK universities as global providers of practitioner training in evaluating evidence of what works and how to use evidence to make effective funding decisions.

The partnership will also evaluate the overall effectiveness of the What Works Centre for Crime Reduction .

Following successful award of the grant, work supported by this commission is expected to start in September and will run for three years. The College Chair, Professor Shirley Pearce said:

"This partnership marks an important step in developing the evidence-based approach to policing which is being led by the College of Policing. It will significantly strengthen links between the academic sector, the police service and their crime reduction partners."

"By developing the skill base of practitioners in relation to their understanding, appraisal and use of evidence they will be able make more informed decisions when implementing crime reduction interventions."

"Importantly the work of the university consortium will also contribute to increased public awareness of successful crime reduction methods, highlight areas where further research and development are needed and inform and improve national debates on policies relating to effective crime reduction through seminars and conferences."

ESRC chief executive Paul Boyle said:

"We are delighted to be part of a nationally co-ordinated initiative that will strengthen the use of evidence for policy and practice, for the benefit of Whitehall, local communities and the public."

ESRC Press Office:

Notes for editors

  1. College of Policing: What Works Centre for Crime Reduction latest update - What's happening?

    A consortium of eight universities has been announced as the successful bidder for the delivery of the partnership programme to support the What Works Centre for Crime Reduction in the College of Policing. The consortium includes expertise from University College London (UCL), the Institute of Education (IoE), the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Birkbeck, Cardiff, Dundee, Surrey and Southampton universities.

    What is the What Works Centre and who is it for?

    The What Works Centre is hosted by the College of Policing and will inform the police service and their partners about how to tackle pressing crime reduction issues. The What Works Centre is using the most robust and comprehensive methods to review evidence on crime reduction practices and interventions. The Centre will draw the evidence together, and rate it by quality and cost, to identify which approaches are likely to be effective. The What Works Centre's role will include getting the evidence into the hands of decision-makers - Police and Crime Commissioners, other Government Departments and community safety partners such as local authorities all have a remit for reducing crime. The public will also be interested in the What Works Centre as it will help them hold local service providers to account.

    What is the partnership programme?

    The programme of work has been commissioned to support the What Works Centre for Crime Reduction in the College of Policing, and is co-funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. The partnership will map existing reviews of crime reduction activities, develop ways of rating them by cost and overall effectiveness and carry out new reviews.

    What's different about this partnership?

    The partnership will significantly strengthen links between the academic sector, the police service and their crime reduction partners. The consortium will work with the What Works Centre to help build capability amongst practitioners in applying evidence locally. By developing the skills base of practitioners in relation to their understanding, appraisal and use of evidence they will be able make more informed decisions when implementing crime reduction interventions.

    What will the commissioned partnership do?

    Strong evidence is needed when choosing the right practices and interventions to reduce crime. The partnership programme will identify the strongest available research evidence for 'what works' by drawing together existing reviews of crime reduction evidence and undertaking new reviews where there are gaps. These reviews combine the results of all relevant research that has been carried out using rigorous methods. The programme will also help bring together the different types of evidence to help inform the design of new interventions and policies. The programme will also devise simple ways of communicating the results of reviews to decision-makers. The programme will also develop, deliver and assess a pilot programme to equip practitioners to understand, critique and make effective use of available research evidence. The programme will also test the overall impact of the What Works Centre. The work of the university consortium will also contribute to increased public awareness of successful crime reduction methods, highlight areas where further research and development are needed and inform and improve national debates on policies relating to effective crime reduction through seminars and conferences.

    What will the commissioned programme produce?

    Working in close collaboration with the What Works Centre the consortium will equip practitioners and decision makers with guidance and tools to help them make the best decisions on how to reduce crime, what action to take, and what resources to deploy and for how long. These tools and guidance will be based on the most robust evidence available on the effectiveness of different approaches. The guidance will offer simple, straightforward explanations of the evidence and plausible arguments about the significance and implications of the findings generated. Guidance and tools will be designed from the practitioners' perspective to ensure they are practical, easy to understand and apply locally.

    What is the cost of this partnership and has a grant been awarded?

    Funding of up to £3.28 million is available to support this programme of work over 36 months. The College and ESRC will contribute up to 80 per cent of the total award and the remaining balance must be guaranteed by the university consortium. We expect the grant to awarded in September when work on the programme will commence.

  2. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It supports independent high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC's total budget for 2012/13 is £205 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes.

Susie Watts  
Email:   susie.watts@esrc.ac.uk  
Telephone: 01793 413119

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

About Us

We are the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. We support independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. At any one time we support over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes. We are a non-departmental public body established by Royal Charter in 1965 and receive most of our funding through the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). Our research is vigorous and authoritative, as we support independent, high-quality, relevant social science.

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