Centre for Policing Research and Learning


Lead institution
The Open University

Project contact
Professor Jean Hartley, Centre Director

Heather Barrett, Centre Manager

General enquiries to: oupc@open.ac.uk
Twitter: @OU-Police-Consortium

Collaborating partners


​* Avon and Somerset Police
* Dorset Police
* Gloucestershire Constabulary
* Greater Manchester Police
* Gwent Police
* Humberside Police
* Lancashire Constabulary
* Metropolitan Police Service
* Thames Valley Police
* Police Service Northern Ireland

​* National Crime Agency


Summary of activities
The Centre will help equip the police for existing and future challenges, by:

  • Providing online and face-to-face learning via both informal and accredited materials; learning to use research evidence is developed though steps that include a Postgraduate Certificate in Evidence-based Practice, new online free access courses, supported part-time PhD study and guided pathways assist continuing professional development for police officers and staff with learning that can be accessed anywhere at any time. 
  • Advancing police understanding through collaborative research projects; key research projects take place that help police officers and staff to frame and understand problems and research techniques are applied to develop approaches to tackling issues. 
  • Embedding understanding of evidence and mobilising organizational and professional practice change for improvement through a variety of approaches and events, with practitioners, for creating, sharing and exploring different tactics for improvement including online support to police officers, face-to-face events (e.g. evidence cafés and enquiry visits), workshops and international lectures.

Research themes

The project has identified three key research themes which are practical and problem-solving in their approach:

  • Detecting and investigating crime – cyber-crime and improving investigations
  • New approaches to policing tactics – systems thinking and gaming
  • Developing police organisations - ethics, and leadership for public value

Co-research on these themes, undertaken jointly by practitioners and academics, will underpin the development and testing of innovative approaches to better tackle current issues. Research will be supported by five senior practitioner fellows from the police, working with academics on defined aspects of the research projects.

A series of innovative 'evidence cafés', enquiry visits, international lectures and workshops will be linked to emerging research and key national issues in policing. The cafés will involve sharing research evidence and how it can be used in policing. Some cafés and enquiry visits will involve not only the police but local government, health organisations, Royal Society of the Arts, and voluntary and community organisations.