Continuing a-PACE

Research Institution / Organisation

Queen's University Belfast

In Collaboration With

Police Service of Northern Ireland

Principal Researcher

Dr John Topping

Level of Research

Professional / Work-based

Project Start Date

October 2018

Research Context

​The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) currently use stop and search powers at a higher level and with lower outcomes than police services in England, Wales and Scotland. Using a cohort study approach, this research will follow a squad of new recruits into PSNI and 'track' their views, experiences and attitudes to the use of 'everyday' stop and search powers over a twelve month period.

Focused primarily upon the PACE (NI) Order 1989 and Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 powers, the research is broken into three phases. Firstly, it will undertake qualitative interviews with new PSNI just before they complete their 23 week training programme. The same officers will then be re-interviewed at 6 and 12 month intervals in order to provide insight into how the power is interpreted, used and is encouraged/constrained within the organisation. A final report will be produced which provides a unique, individual officer and organisational window into the use of stop and search, an issue which failed to attract attention in Northern Ireland for these 'everyday' powers.

Research Methodology

​The research, conducted in conjunction with PSNI, will use a small cohort of new recruits (circa. 12-15). The first phase will involve a focus group with officers just before they attest as sworn officers and are allocated out for operational duties in the various PSNI districts. This will be followed up with individual, semi-structured interviews at 6 and 12 months, in order to provide a detailed account of how the power 'evolves' from that which is taught at training; and the operational reality/culture of how it is used on the street.

Interim reports and publications

​Please request any additional information directly from the lead researcher.

Date due for completion

February 2020
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