05 August 2019

Evidence-based policing: Self-assessing your organisational maturity

This evidence-based policing (EBP) maturity model has been designed with police officers and staff, for police officers and staff, to help you to reflect on the integration of EBP within your own organisation.

The maturity model is a self-assessment tool developed using the best-available evidence of ‘what works’ in achieving evidence-based practice in a policing context. The model is presented as a grid (see above image) which identifies four broad areas of an organisation that are important in effectively integrating EBP: its culture, capability, structure and strategy. These are described in the model at five levels of maturity, with a level 1 being the least developed and a level 5 the most mature. Suggested organisational behaviours are given as examples of activity that could be expected at the various levels of development.

The example behaviours associated with the different levels of maturing were developed by officers and staff who were asked to reflect on the evidence and to describe ‘behaviours’ they thought were linked to embedding an evidence-based approach in a force. 

For example, in terms of culture, practitioners identified that a less mature organisation might have a target driven culture with little or no room for EBP. A developing force might be prepared to learn from initiatives that work (and don’t work), progressing to a mature organisation where a force uses evidence routinely to understand, develop and evaluate practice. Where possible, the model uses the wording suggested by officers and staff during the workshops. 

How can you use the maturity model?

The model is designed as a self-assessment tool to help forces to understand how well they are integrating EBP in their organisation.  It can be used to start discussions about current EBP-related activities and understand where they fit into a wider plan for integrating it into organisational culture, capability, structure and strategy.

The model was recently tested by a Cambridgeshire Constabulary and Bedfordshire Police who used the maturity model as a way to identify what they were doing well and to highlight areas in which they needed to improve. The group also wanted to develop a benchmark to allow them to measure future progress. 

Mel Wiffin, Senior Research Officer, Cambridgeshire Constabulary, said:

"The session was useful for us to hear the perspectives of other participants and find out what's happening across districts and teams. As a result of this exercise we have determined that the most important enabler for us to prioritise is 'Strategy'. The consensus is, that by concentrating on the Strategy element of the model, the natural consequence will be the development of the other enablers (Culture, Capability and Structure)." 

Organisations can use the model for tracking or reviewing their progress. As staff knowledge and awareness of EBP increases, the model can be used to record the ways in which this has translated into action. The model can also be used at an individual level (to track your own progress and areas for development) or a team/force level to monitor progress, plan new activity and share learning with peers.

The maturity model can also be used to develop and share ideas between forces by identifying where they have something to learn and something to share with their peers. Users of the maturity model can then approach peers to share their different strengths and learn from each other.

Getting started

The model is available in two formats – an interactive format which allows you to save comments and a printable format which can be used during workshop sessions like the one held by Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire.  Mel Wiffin has listed some tips for facilitating an initial workshop using the model:

  • Before you start have a clear idea of what you need to get out of the session, and have some ideas as to how to shape discussions. This will also help you to determine who to invite 
  • Plan tables of groups of 3 – 4 people with no more than 6 groups per session. This will mean the initial workshop takes approximately 90 minutes
  • If possible, keep people from the similar roles/teams together for the discussion groups. This should allow everyone to contribute to the discussion
  • Participants can first make an individual assessment and then compare with the wider group views. Ensure there is the opportunity for all tables to feed back if they wish. In particular try to understand any differing perspectives between levels of maturity in relation to Culture, Capability, Structure and Strategy
  • Ensure that a senior leader/champion for EBP attends - but give consideration about whether they should attend as a participant or an observer, allowing for them to share their views and perspectives regarding the discussions at the end of the session
  • Have someone on hand to take detailed notes of the conversations 
  • Have an additional facilitator 
  • The real value is in the discussion and people's experiences, so don't get too hung up on the levels
  • The behaviours are there as discussion points and ideas, not as targets or a 'tick-list'
  • Consolidate the findings afterwards and share with the attendees for feedback.


A short user guide is available to help you to get started with using the model in a way that suits you and your team.  If you are interested in running an initial workshop and would like some guidance on getting started, you can contact us by email whatworks@college.pnn.police.uk