Despite the pitfalls identified in previous critiques of the evidence-based practice movement in education, health, medicine and social care, recent years have witnessed its spread to the realm of policing. This article considers the rise of evidence-based policy and practice as a dominant discourse in policing in the UK, and the implications this has for social scientists conducting research in this area, and for police officers and staff. Social scientists conducting research with police must consider organisational factors impacting upon police work, as well as the wider political agendas which constrain it - in this case, the ways in which the adoption of evidence-based policing and the related 'gold standard' used to evaluate research act as a 'technology of power' to shape the nature of policing/research. The discussion draws on semi-structured interviews conducted with police officers and staff from police forces in England.
The authors would like to thank the editors and the anonymous reviewers for their advice and suggestions. They would also like to thank the police forces and interviewees who took part in this project.
This study was funded by an Enterprise Project Grant (funded via HEFCE).
- social research
- technologies of power