Evidence base camp

Detailed notes from this pilot event, held with the aim of developing critical thinking, appraisal skills, giving experience of searching the evidence base and identifying what works.

The evidence base camp took place over five days between October 2013 and February 2014 at the College of Policing's Sunningdale site. It attracted 60 police officers and staff from a variety of ranks and representing forces including Suffolk, West Yorkshire, Cheshire, Dyfed-Powys, Sussex and Devon & Cornwall. Other attendees included staff from the College of Policing and the National Crime Agency.You can read detailed summaries of each day's activities, and the outputs from them, below.

What next?

Following the camp's completion, we are debriefing and reviewing participant feedback. We will continue to work across the evidence base camp areas over the coming months, to turn the maps our delegates have completed into full Rapid Evidence Assessments.

Days 1 and 2: Developing searching strategies and skills

Day 1 focused on introducing delegates to evidence-based policing, explaining what it is and why it matters, as well as outlining the support and resources available from the College. Sessions looked at demystifying rapid evidence assessments (REAs) and evidence reviews, and explaining key concepts in evidence-based policing.

Download the welcome presentation and the presentation on REAs.

Professor Kate Bowers from University College London talked about academic work testing the effectiveness of hot spots policing, and Sgt Wendy Goodhill from West Midlands Police gave a practical example of the impact of taking an evidence-based approach to reducing crime in hot spots by discussing the impact of Operation Savvy.

Download Professor Bowers's presentation and Sgt Goodhill's presentation.

On Day 2, delegates gained practical experience of developing search terms and using one of the databases available through the National Police Library.

Download the presentation on developing research questions and the presentation on systematic searching.

Five research questions were set, and delegates broke into groups to develop a search strategy for each of them:


What interventions have been shown to be effective in supporting individuals during an acute mental health crisis?

Download the presentation

What interventions have been shown to be effective in tackling barriers to career progression experienced by under-represented groups?

Download the presentation

What interventions have been shown to be effective in preventing or reducing theft from the person?

Download the presentation

What interventions have been shown to be effective in supporting mental well-being in the workplace?

Download the presentation

What interventions have been shown to be effective in getting people out of prostitution?​

Download the presentation

By the end of the camp, each group had agreed search terms for its question, so that it could search for evidence on the most effective interventions in that area.

Day 3: Sifting

Delegates sifted the evidence identified by their searches, for quality and relevance. The opening session focused on the essentials of sifting. where delegates learned the principles to develop and apply sift criteria, before they broke into their teams to review and sift through masses of Abstract information in relation to their pre-set research question. Lengthy compilations of Abstract information were split equally between team members, who read and whittled down the series of abstracts and highlighted areas of research/articles which would be used to help answer their team question. (The team questions were set on Day 2 - see below.)

At the end of the team sifting session, delegates were told the next steps, which include a request for full papers identified from their sift, systematic mapping, synthesis of evidence - leading ultimately to the reporting of each team's findings in relation to their research question.

The table below shows each team's sift presentation as well as the total number of Abstracts and, from this, the total number of relevant articles to be reviewed on Day 4.


TeamResearch question PresentationsTotal number of AbstractsNumber of relevant articles
Red TeamWhat interventions have been shown to be effective in supporting individuals during an acute mental health crisis? Download the presentation1,40855
Download the list of articles
Blue TeamWhat interventions have been shown to be effective in tackling barriers to career progression experienced by under-represented groups? Download the presentation1,20582
Download the list of articles
Pink TeamWhat interventions have been shown to be ​effective in preventing or reducing theft from the person? Download the presentation84482
Download the list of articles
Purple TeamWhat interventions have been shown to be effective in supporting mental well-being in the workplace?  Download the presentation1,22986
Download the list of articles
Yellow Team What interventions have been shown to be effective in responding to prostitution? Download the presentation97987
Download the list of articles


Days 4 and 5: Synthesis, Evidence Expo and panel session

Following the intensive sifting process in November and after more hard work behind the scenes by our research team and colleagues in the National Police Library, delegates on Day 4 were given an introduction to research mapping and practised evaluating different studies.

Download the presentation "From sifting to synthesis".

They then broke up into their syndicates to begin mapping and appraising the research evidence against their particular research questions, using mapping templates to help identify the design of research studies. The afternoon session continued with delegates mapping studies, assessing the design of studies and formulating their findings.

After everyone's hard work, the day closed with an informal Gala Dinner for delegates and staff, to celebrate the work achieved since last October when Base Camp began. Attendees included two university professors, DCC Rob Beckley and three National Policing Leads, who also sat on our panel on the final day of proceedings.

Day 5 saw all the searching, sifting, mapping and synthesising of evidence culminate in an "Evidence Expo", where our five teams displayed and talked through their team's PowerPoint presentations with their respective National Policing Lead (see below). Our guests then had the opportunity to discuss initial findings with their team, give their comments and feedback, and look at how to progress research in this area in the future.


TeamResearch question Total number of AbstractsRelevant articlesAvailable for synthesisInterim findings
Red What interventions have been shown to be effective in supporting individuals during an acute mental health crisis?1,4085538 Download the presentation
Blue What interventions have been shown to be effective in tackling barriers to career progression experienced by under-represented groups?1,2058246 Download the presentation
Pink What interventions have been shown to be effective in preventing or reducing theft from the person?8448258 Download the presentation
Purple What interventions have been shown to be effective in supporting mental well-being in the workplace? 1,2298672 Download the presentation
Yellow  What interventions have been shown to be effective in responding to prostitution?9798748 Download the presentation

The Evidence Expo was followed by a panel session, when our distinguished panel members shared their team's findings with the rest of the group and addressed a range of questions from delegates on issues including future research, next steps, and challenges to embedding research into practice. The panel members were:




Panel memberRole/titleTeamResearch area
Professor Dame Shirley PearceChair, College of Policing --
Rachel Tuffin, OBEDirector of Knowledge, Research and Education, College of Policing--
ACC Phil KayLeicestershire ConstabularyRedMental Health Crisis
CC Alf HitchcockMinistry of Def​ence Police (National Policing Business Lead for EDHR)Blue Career Progression
CC Peter VaughanSouth Wales PolicePink Reducing Theft
Dr Steven ChaseHR Director, Thames Valley PolicePurple Mental Wellbeing
A/D/Insp John O'Brien
(replacing ACC Chris Armitt, Merseyside Police)
Metropolitan PoliceYellow Prostitution

In a speech, Professor Dame Shirley Pearce acknowledged the "tremendous amount of academic literature" which had been examined, and praised delegates work in making "a real impact on the service's knowledge around important areas such as responding to people in mental health crisis, theft and the progression of under-represented groups in policing".

The day concluded with a reflections session to capture feedback from our delegates, the outcome of which will help refine and improve any future evidence base camps and build on the success of this event.​