12 Feb 2014

Open University academics to investigate improvements to UK policing

The Open University Business School (OUBS) has announced a major public sector partnership with police forces and agencies across the UK to help them cope with reduced resources and enhance the service they offer the public.

Following a successful bid for funding from the College of Policing, the OUBS will be working in partnership with 10 police forces and agencies and two police and crime commissioners, initially for a period of four months, with the intention to generate longer-term research and education links between the forces and the University. It is anticipated that the consortium will help to make real strides in tackling areas of priority for policing, such as:
• how to more strongly link research to the day-to-day practice of police officers;
• how to develop smarter working in an environment of greater public expectations and reduced resources;
• developing leadership structures which enhance service effectiveness

Cutting edge research by The Open University (OU) academics involved in the consortium will draw on areas of expertise covering forensic cognition, technology and data use, organisational change, strategic management and the history of policing. The consortium will develop research that is rigorous, practical and in an area of significant importance to the public.

Professor Jean Hartley, Chair of the Consortium and Professor of Public Leadership at the OUBS has significant experience of academic-policing collaboration; she said:
“Policing provides a fascinating and vital source of investigation for academic researchers. We are fortunate to be able to attract a number of the UK’s largest and most innovative forces to our bid. The consortium is first and foremost about developing a continuing dialogue between police practitioners and academic researchers, in order to develop a deeper understanding of the challenges facing the police – and thus to make a difference to the quality of research available to support the fight against crime and its causes.

“Throughout the process of applying for this funding, we have received committed and enthusiastic support from both the senior levels of our policing partner organisations and within the University. Such support demonstrates that both the OU and policing partners are passionate about developing policing as an important area for education and research in the future.”

Sara Thornton, Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police, said:
“As a diverse and dynamic police force, Thames Valley prides itself as being at the cutting edge in terms of how it gathers and analyses evidence and also in broader policing issues. We draw upon the latest research in the field to further advance our policing practice.

“The partnership between forces and agencies will provide an excellent opportunity to share expertise, whilst working alongside The Open University, a unique institution with a global network of resources, will provide a platform to further our research and understanding of policing in the future.”

An event will be held over Thursday 27 and Friday 28 February 2014 at the University’s Walton Hall Campus, Milton Keynes to develop research themes further. Policing Research Fair will act as a forum where both academics and police will be able to connect current and future research between policing and higher education, sharing ideas on topics such as cognitive forensics and visual identification; community engagement; leadership; organisational change and innovation; strategic management; the use of technology and digital data; workforce development and engagement, and working with vulnerable people.
A number of police officers and agencies participating in the collaborative research will be provided access to particular OU learning resources. This feature will draw on the OU’s strengths as a university at the forefront of adult higher education and its network of regional educational resources.

Following the Policing Research Fair at the end of February 2014, two flagship research projects will receive initial funding to create and develop longer-term partnership work.


Notes to Editors

OU media contact:
Darry Khajehpour, Media Relations Officer on 01908 652520 or

About The Open University Business School and Law School

The Open University Business School (OUBS) is a leader in modern flexible learning and the pioneer of teaching methods that enable people to change their life goals, studying at times and in places convenient to them.

The OUBS is one of a select group of schools worldwide accredited by the three leading international accrediting bodies – AACSB, AMBA, EQUIS – hallmarks of quality of teaching, learning materials and qualification impact. It is the only triple-accredited business school that specialises in flexible learning and is home to more than 24,000 graduates in over 100 countries. Its MBA programme offers both residential schools and face-to-face and collaborative learning options.

The OUBS is also home to the Open University Law School offering, amongst its programmes an LLB (Hons). It is also one of the top five UK universities for student satisfaction.

For more information, please see its website at and for law

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