Collaborative problem solving for community safety

Research Institution / Organisation

The Open University

In Collaboration With

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI)

Principal Researcher

Dr Peter Bloom

Level of Research

Professional / Work-based

Project Start Date

September 2016

Research Context

As part of their response to the Fresh Start Agreement issued by the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) are working with The Centre for Policing Research and Learning (CPRL) on the design, delivery and evaluation of a new learning intervention which aims to improve community engagement in target neighbourhood areas.

PSNI have developed a skills framework for officers working in communities based on collaborative problem-solving which they would like to test out in terms of impact on officer practice, and ultimately on community relations. Broadly speaking this encompasses:

  • Collaborative working
  • Problem solving
  • Listening and negotiation skills
  • Conflict handling
  • Community assets mapping (Stakeholder engagement)
  • Critical thinking

This is based on the research of a range of OU academics in collaboration, creative problem-solving and systems, some of which is already utilised in our undergraduate and postgraduate teaching programmes. It comprises a set of skills which are relevant to community policing in general, and indeed could be beneficial to professionals and public leaders in a range of community based public service settings.

Research Methodology

‚ÄčThere are essentially three components to the project:

a) Drawing on the Centre's objective for creating innovative open educational resources which supports evidence based practice in policing, PSNI will providing funding for the development of a short course (about 12 hours) on `collaborative problem solving in communities' on the OpenLearn platform, with a downloadable resource `toolkit' of useful techniques for participants to take away.

b) A programme of face to face learning events and support for a pilot group of 147 officers. The Open University in Ireland, who are working with PSNI, will then support them in using the materials for the specific context addressed in the NI Assembly's requirements.

c) Evaluation of the impact of this on both officers' confidence and longer term on community relations. The aim is to bring a research funding proposal for this aspect of the project to the next meeting of the Consortium for approval.

Interim reports and publications

‚ÄčReport available for members of the Centre for Policing Research and Learning.

Date due for completion

April 2020
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