Research fairs

There is a need in policing to build the evidence base through research and to encourage partnerships and collaborations between forces and further/higher education establishments. One way to achieve this is through a research fair.

A research fair is a "marketplace", hosted by a police force or a partnership of regional forces (perhaps together with relevant Police and Crime Commissioners), to match policing-related research requirements with resources. Universities, other further education establishments and research institutes are invited to the research fair, where they are given information about knowledge gaps and research priorities, as determined by the hosting force(s). They then have the opportunity to express an interest in undertaking research projects (usually at a Masters level or above), and to apply to match a knowledge gap with a student or employee who may undertake the research at no additional cost to the police force.

A research fair also gives forces the opportunity to develop partnerships with local institutes and to raise force awareness of universities' research expertise and courses on offer to officers as part of their professional development. It facilitates the exchange of information and expertise in a structured but informal way, giving the opportunity to interact with fewer constraints than traditional events.

Benefits for police forces

  • Provides resources to bridge the gaps in policing knowledge and build the evidence base;
  • Supports the embedding of evidence-based policing (EBP) within forces, and the application of EBP strategies;
  • Encourages relevant research, carried out locally to the specification of the police;
  • Helps to develop local partnerships, and fosters a culture of openness and learning between police and universities;
  • Engages students and researchers in current policing issues.

Benefits for universities/institutes

  • Provides direct access to police-related information and operational policing, including grey literature, police statistics and opportunities to interview and/or observe police practice in operation;
  • Identifies research topics based on current and local policing requirements;
  • Establishes partnerships and helps to forge collaborative working relationships with local police forces and Police and Crime Commissioners;
  • Builds capacity in the policing research sector;
  • Provides incentives for students to enrol on study programmes with access to policing research opportunities.

Role of the College of Policing

The College of Policing is able to support a small number of research fairs across the country in order to help build forces' capability to start and continue such activities in the future. This support reflects our role to embed evidence-based policing and the testing of innovative practice, as well as supporting forces to foster collaborative working relationships with their local universities.

For more information about research fairs, email

If you're interested in running a research fair, start by reading our Guide to Running a Research Fair