ENU researchers design prehab service to revolutionise pre-surgery patient care

The waiting time for hip and knee replacement increased from 12 weeks to 18 months because of Covid and the backlog it created for the NHS.

Such a long period can considerably decrease the quality of life and the chance of quick post-surgery recovery for the patient. The good news: a group of ENU researchers may have just found the perfect solution.

Patients waiting for hip or knee replacements live with severe pain symptoms caused by damaged joint surfaces. The constant soreness and discomfort reduce people’s mobility and fitness, increasing their chances for gaining weight and extending the likely time of post-surgery recovery.

According to Edinburgh Napier’s Professor Anna Campbell, “Evidence is emerging that providing virtual exercise, nutritional and emotional support to people waiting for operations – or during treatment – has the potential to significantly improve their physical and psychological wellbeing and quality of life.”

The hip and knee (HAK) prehab intervention is a pilot service designed by ENU lecturers and researchers – Dr Kostas Kaliarntas, Professor Anna Campbell, and Dr Amanda Pitkethly from the School of Applied Sciences; and Dr David Hamilton, Dr Coral Hanson and Professor Lis Neubeck from the School of Health and Social Care. They worked in collaboration with orthopaedic surgeon Dr Nick Clement and anaesthetist Dr Elizabeth Brun Lacey, from NHS Lothian.

The service is now being funded by NHS Lothian for approximately 18 months. Its function is to provide virtual lifestyle behaviour change programmes that will increase the fitness and wellbeing of patients waiting for hip and knee replacement. These include individual online exercise sessions, dietary advice, and emotional support; all provided by clinical exercise physiologists.

Similar services developed by ENU researchers have been successfully delivered to cancer and cardiac patients, such as the ongoing Safefit trial led by Professor Anna Campbell and her team.

The new HAK prehab intervention follows the Safefit protocol and researchers aim to recruit 126 hip and knee replacement patients, supplying each of them with a 6-month virtual prehabilitation service.

The clinical exercise physiologists will monitor behavioural changes and measure outcomes by conducting interviews and exploring service users’ experiences. If the pilot proves beneficial for patients, and feasible for the NHS, it could revolutionise pre-surgery healthcare.

Dr Kostas Kaliarntas added, “This project gives us exciting opportunities for further collaborations with NHS, placement opportunities for our MSc Clinical Exercise Science and Physical Activity & Health undergraduate students, and potential follow up external funding applications.”

To find out more about becoming a clinical exercise physiologist by studying BSc (Hons) Physical Activity & Health or MSc Clinical Exercise Science at Edinburgh Napier University, click the links.

BSc (Hons) Physical Activity & Health Undergraduate Full-time

MSc Clinical Exercise Science Postgraduate Full-time

Growing the cycling industry in Scotland

In 2023, Scotland is to host the Cycling World Championships, a two-week extravaganza that will bring together 13 international competitions in one country for the first time.

This inaugural mega event will provide an outstanding opportunity to showcase the Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland (MTBCOS) research group and a new Innovation Centre at Innerleithen, in the Scottish Borders.

Edinburgh Napier University’s Professor Geraint Florida-James is playing a key role in establishing the new innovation centre – which marks an important milestone for the sport of cycling at home and worldwide. An applied researcher who is passionate about sports science and cycling, Professor Florida-James has been involved with the biking industry for nearly twenty years, also coaching athletes for the Downhill and the Cross-Country World Cups, as well as Professional Enduro Racers.

The MTBCOS is a project that started in 2014, with Edinburgh Napier University working in partnership with Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Cycling. Its role has been to help grow a Scottish cycling industry, with relevant research and help businesses take advantage of one of the country’s fastest-growing sports. The group provides support with market research, developing, testing, and launching new products.

The success of the project caught the attention of the Scottish and UK Governments and raised the profile of the sector internationally. As a result, with an additional partner, the South of Scotland Enterprise, the Centre has been fundamental in securing £19M of Borderlands Regional Growth Deal Funding to purchase the Caerlee Mill in Innerleithen, an old textile mill that has been out of use since 2013. Professor Florida-James emphasises that partnerships such as these are key for the Centre’s continued success.

Also included in the Borderlands Project is the first mechanical lift-assisted Bike Park in the Northern Hemisphere, which will be with a short ride of the Mill. Once renovated, the Mill and the surrounding world-class bike tracks will serve as an innovation site for the cycling industry ­- led by Edinburgh Napier – where new products can be developed and tested. In addition, the Hub will also explore supply chain issues and can connect local entrepreneurs with international audiences.

Professor Florida-James says, “we expect huge international interest around the 2023 Championships, which will help more companies become aware of the research and development potential here, and the potential to reshore some of the cycling industry to Scotland”.

The Centre has equally been supporting internal partners within Edinburgh Napier who are involved with mental health and wellbeing research, to identify ways cycling can boost these issues in Scotland and beyond. Various schools within the University will combine their research with the Centre through the new Innovation Hub, recognising the opportunities cycling presents for future health, wellbeing and economic development.

New report examines ways to support people with disabilities in Ukraine

There are currently almost 3 million persons registered as having a disability in Ukraine; however, numbers are likely to be higher as there is a lack of reliable and detailed statistics. The COVID-19 pandemic created many new barriers for people with disabilities while equally amplifying existing ones. Nevertheless, the war with Russia presents new and more complex challenges, and the need for support is great and urgent.

The devastating situation in Ukraine has become increasingly difficult for people living in the war-torn country and for those who have been displaced because of the conflict. Persons with disabilities are particularly affected since such conditions exacerbate existing challenges.

Kiril Sharapov, Associate Professor at Edinburgh Napier University has been researching the impact of the pandemic on people with disabilities in Ukraine in partnership with local universities and organisations. Originally, the group was motivated by a concerning lack of research projects that explored the point of view of persons with disabilities. They aimed to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on them by providing guidance and practical recommendations to organisations that wanted to help.

The participatory research project worked with organisations of persons with disabilities (OPDs) in Ukraine that collected data by interviewing people with disabilities and their households, exploring the pandemic’s effects on their everyday lives. The findings released today focus on the perspectives of the OPDs; after surveying 108 of them, the findings were presented to disability experts and activists who were asked to comment and create a set of recommendations.

The recommendations urge international donors to prioritise organisations ‘of’ persons with disabilities over organisations ‘for’, in these dark times, and allocate funding to cover organisational costs in addition to supporting short-term events and projects.

Going forward, the researchers strongly suggest that public authorities in Ukraine at all levels of governance recognise and support OPDs as key actors in ensuring and protecting the rights of persons they are taking care of. Additionally, it is advised that OPDs are regularly approached and consulted by decision-making bodies, when planning and sustaining the continuity of basic life support services in the event of future public emergencies.

Lastly, it is recommended that the government works in close cooperation with OPDs once peace is restored. The two parties should develop a rapid response protocol to establish a mechanism for rapid translation, interpretation, and dissemination of time-critical information in the event of any future public emergencies. The OPDs should receive allocated funding and tax exemptions, and civic participation should be encouraged among local communities to facilitate support and partnership between OPDs and volunteers, donors, and other stakeholders.

To read  The Impact Of COVID-19 On People With Disabilities In Ukraine: Perspectives Of Organisations Of People With Disabilities (Working Paper) in English, please visit: https://doi.org/10.17869/enu.2022.2849863. To read it in Ukrainian, please visit: https://doi.org/10.17869/enu.2022.2849877.

Researchers call for compulsory training for all Police Scotland officers

Police officers across Scotland should carry naloxone, an emergency treatment for drug overdoses, a new report has recommended.

An Edinburgh Napier University-led study backed the use of the nasal spray, which counters the effects of overdose from opioids such as heroin, following an independent evaluation of a pilot carried out between March and October last year.

The researchers also called for naloxone training to be made compulsory for all Police Scotland officers and staff.

Supporters believe naloxone is an important tool in tackling Scotland’s drug-related deaths crisis, by providing immediate first aid while waiting for the ambulance service to arrive and take over emergency medical treatment.

In response to the increasing drugs death toll, and the recommendation of the country’s Drug Deaths Taskforce, Police Scotland began a pilot project to test the carriage and administration of the treatment by officers.

Last year’s trial was initially launched in Falkirk, Dundee and Glasgow East before being extended to include Caithness and Glasgow custody and Stirling community police officers.

Naloxone packs were used 51 times in the course of the pilot, and by the end 808 officers had been trained in their use, representing 87 per cent of the workforce in the pilot areas.

A team led by Dr Peter Hillen and advised by Dr Andrew McAuley of Glasgow Caledonian University assessed the attitudes and experiences of police officers, the effectiveness of their naloxone training and responses from people who use drugs and support services.

A total of 346 police officers completed questionnaires, with 41 taking part in interviews or focus groups, and further interviews were carried out with people who use drugs, family members, support workers and key stakeholders.

A majority of officers who participated in an interview or focus group were supportive of the pilot and its roll out across Scotland. Thirteen interviewees had personally administered naloxone, some on several occasions, and officers reported very positive experiences of naloxone being used effectively to save people’s lives.

While some officers considered carrying naloxone would lead to greater reliance on police by ambulance services, police overwhelmingly said that preserving life was the top priority.

Community stakeholders who were interviewed were supportive of the pilot as part of a range of initiatives to tackle the drug deaths crisis.

The study recommended that police carrying naloxone should be rolled out Scotland-wide, and that it should also be placed within police cars and custody suites to widen access.

As well as compulsory naloxone training for all police staff, the report urged consideration be given to measures to further address stigmatising attitudes towards people who use drugs.

It also recommended that officers be given ‘unambiguous information’ about their legal position if they administer the emergency treatment.

Professor Nadine Dougall, pictured, one of the team’s co-investigators, said: “Our evaluation has shown that there is significant potential benefit in training and equipping police officers with naloxone nasal spray as part of emergency first aid until ambulance support arrives.

“Many police officers told us they are often the first to attend people who have overdosed, and they greatly valued the potential to save lives in this way. People with personal experience of overdose also agreed naloxone should be carried by police officers but were keen to stress that naloxone was only a part of a solution to address drug-related deaths.”

Newly Recruited Research Fellow – Estelle Clayton – Completes the INTERACT Team

The team of INTERACT is now complete. And the researchers are very excited to start working on the project that will lay down the foundation for policy and best practice in ‘technologically-mediated’ policing, creating a safer and fairer future for all of us.

INTERACT – Investigating New Types of Engagement, Response And Contact Technology – is a large Economic and Social Research Council funded collaborative project nested at Edinburgh Napier University. Using mixed methods research, this holistic study aims to explore the perspectives of police senior leadership and staff, police officers, and members of the public to gain an in-depth understanding of stakeholders’ experiences and views on using technology when interacting with one another. The data will allow the group to make valuable recommendations for policy to impact future best practices.

The research began last year when Dr Liz Aston, Associate Professor of Criminology at Edinburgh Napier University and Director of the Scottish Institute for Policing Research (SIPR) was appointed as Principal Investigator of the project. ENU partnered with the University of Dundee from Scotland as well as Keele University and University College London from England.

The first six months were spent establishing partnerships with police forces, where the research could be conducted, and recruiting the ideal candidates for the team from all four institutions. Recent PhD candidate, Estelle Clayton, from the University of Dundee completed the group in December.

Born in Manchester, Estelle moved to Scotland in 2008 to study Philosophy as an undergraduate degree at the University of St Andrews. She continued her studies at the University of Edinburgh with a Master of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice. Estelle then proceeded to do a PhD, her research entitled, Stop and Search Scotland: An Analysis of Police Practice and Culture in a Time of Change.

Estelle is immensely interested in how policing works – what officers do, how they perceive their role and how that influences their behaviour. She is curious about the ways such insights can be used for policymaking to improve the experiences of the Police and the public when interacting with each other. Naturally, she is very excited to be part of the INTERACT team and to have the opportunity to work with Dr Liz Aston among other experts from the field.

Now that the team is complete, and the research is entering its second phase, Estelle will spend the next six months interviewing members of the senior leadership of Police Scotland to understand how decisions about the use of technology are made, and what aims and objectives they have. She will equally interview staff members who use technology daily, investigating how they deal with it and what they would improve on it. The same research will be simultaneously undertaken in England by the Research Fellow from Keele University, Dr Will Andrews.

Following this period, as the research enters its third phase, Estelle will join police officers in the field to observe real-time interactions with the public mediated by technology. She will conduct follow-up interviews and focus groups with officers and civilians, as well as two communities of interest, to explore their views and experiences as well.

The study, which is scheduled to finish in September 2024, will have the research team working on the publication in its last phase. The group will present recommendations based on the findings to support policymakers in establishing guidelines around the use of technology to benefit all stakeholders involved in Police-public interactions.

To find out more about studying Criminology and the various careers that can follow, please click here.

Marine coastal organisms benefit from oxygen fluctuations

Fluctuations of oxygen levels in marine coastal ecosystems are important to determine the response to climate change  of marine fauna.

That is the finding of a paper published in June for The Royal Society, based on research involving Professor Karen Diele and Dr Marco Fusi, a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Applied Sciences at Edinburgh Napier University. Both have been working with Dr Jenny Booth , who is the paper’s lead author, and Professor Christopher McQuaid of Rhodes University, South Africa. The experiments that led to the findings have been conducted in the aquarium facilities of the St Abbs Marine Station, on the south East coast of Scotland, in collaboration with Marine Station researcher  Erica Chapman.

Coastal animals exist in habitats that are characterized by daily and seasonally fluctuation of environmental parameter:: for example, oxygen cycles vary between day and night and summer or winter.

Marine species evolve in this fluctuating environments and they have developed strategies to exploit cycling environmental change.

The team’s research – entitled Diel oxygen fluctuation drives the thermal response and metabolic performance of coastal marine ectotherms published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B,  shows that both velvet crabs and blue mussels normally exploit fluctuating daily oxygen supersaturation to cope with nightly oxygen undersaturation and overall to improve their thermal resistance.

The experiments that led to the findings have been conducted in the aquarium facilities of the St Abbs Marine Station (c) Jenny Booth

But as the environment alters at an increasingly fast pace, due to anthropogenic activity, the impact on natural feedback mechanisms is affecting the ability of these species to adapt to future thermal stress. The adverse impact is likely to be true for most coastal ectotherms, or animals that depend on external sources of body heat, as they rely on the same feedback mechanisms.

“The increasing metabolic demand of animals under warming are sustained by producing periodic oxygen supersaturation through coastal primary producers,” explains Marco Fusi. These are plants, algae and some bacteria that can photosynthesize.

“We demonstrate that the provision and resultant variability of oxygen by primary production are important drivers of the thermal responses of coastal animals, and the intensified response we see is foreseen to become increasingly important under future climate change,” adds Karen Diele.

This thermal response of both plants and animals results from the complex interaction of several factors, beyond temperature alone. “While primary producers will have their own specific responses to ocean warming and acidification, it is likely that coastal habitats such as seagrasses, kelp forests, mangroves and coral reefs will be important as refugia, where oxygen variation can drive the metabolic performance of animals in a changing world,” adds Marco.

“As primary producers, they are likely to have an increasingly important effect under climate warming; both on permanent residents and transient animals that use these habitats as nursery sites.

The disappearance of diverse communities of macroalgae in coastal waters is therefore a threat to biodiversity, not only through habitat loss, but also through reduced oxygen variability and the effects of this on animal thermal responses.”

The full paper can be read here

Investigating the use of temporary accommodation to house asylum seekers and refugees during the Covid-19 outbreak

A project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as part of UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) rapid response to COVID-19, is to investigate the use of temporary accommodation to house asylum seekers during the Covid-19 outbreak. The Principal Investigator is Dr Taulant Guma, Lecturer in Human Geography at the School of Applied Sciences.

The re-housing of asylum seekers and refugees into hotels in Glasgow has been a growing social issue throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. There has been mounting concern over the welfare of displaced individuals in the city and numerous reports of crowded living conditions and lack of available healthcare, which is leaving asylum seekers vulnerable to the Coronavirus outbreak and other social issues.

Recent moves by private sector firms to relocate asylum seekers into ‘safe environments’ have been widely criticized, particularly for the difficulties in maintaining physical distancing in new crowded, shared spaces thus increasing the risks of exposure to Covid-19.

Organisations and stakeholders representing asylum seekers have reported the fear and distress that this move has caused for asylum seekers.

Well-publicized incidents of violence and suicide by asylum seekers and refugees in Glasgow hotels last year have illustrated the added pressures facing private firms who are responsible for their re-housing to implement more protocols to ensure duty of care.

In addition, this re-housing has also made it difficult for charities to provide support to affected individuals, who are moved often at short notice.

Statistical analysis has shown that BAME groups have been most affected by the Covid-19 outbreak in recent months. The role of housing vis-à-vis Covid-related risks is an area that has been identified as requiring attention in the UKRI’s call for research on BAME groups. Asylum seekers living in the UK in particular are one of the most marginalised groups in society, with most living in poverty, experiencing poor health with the pandemic placing them in one of the most at-risk groups.

The Edinburgh Napier study will adopt a digital ethnographic approach that is co-designed and co-produced with MORE (Migrants Organising for Rights and Empowerment), a grassroots migrant organisation run by people with experiences of asylum seeking, and the deliverables will be co-created with the partner organisation and migrant participants.

The year-long project will be headed by Dr Taulant Guma and his team includes Dr Gavin Maclean, and Dr Kiril Sharapov from the School of Applied Sciences; Dr Kirsten MacLeod from the School of Arts & Creative Industries; and Yvonne Blake and Robert Makutsa from MORE

The team will produce a social impact documentary, which will give a voice to asylum seekers’ experiences of housing during the Covid-19 pandemic in Glasgow.

“The film will have impact on several levels – through its process of production it will provide a space for dialogue and reflection allowing participants and community researchers to articulate and share the problems, issues and concerns they experience in what is an often lonely and hostile environment,” says Dr Guma.

“Our project will focus on this current and unfolding issue related to the provision of temporary accommodation for asylum seekers during the Covid-19 pandemic. It will examine what the situation is currently on the ground, how the crisis has accentuated the risk for those seeking asylum and develop responses with migrant communities to create a genuinely ‘safer environment’ for asylum seekers.”

The team’s key objectives are:

  • To identify factors and mechanisms which have placed asylum seekers living in temporary accommodation at greater risk of Covid-19 during this crisis.
  • To document the housing conditions and understand the impact of relocation from the perspectives and experiences of asylum seekers themselves.
  • To work with grassroots community groups to influence government policies and practices on asylum accommodation in order to address the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on those seeking asylum.
  • To influence media and public debate and raise awareness about the issues and challenges faced by asylum seekers and refugees living in the UK.

For further information on this project contact T.Guma@napier.ac.uk

Local Partnership Resilience in the Covid-19 Pandemic

Deprivation, addictions and (re)offending are complex social problems. As such, it is recognised that it lies beyond the power of any single organisation to deal with them effectively, and partnership between different agencies ­- including the NHS, local authorities and charities – is key to addressing and resolving them.

But such integrated response has been impacted by the restrictions of lockdown and Covid.

Now a project, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as part of UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) rapid response to COVID-19, will investigate local partnership resilience. The Principal Investigator is Dr Jamie Buchan, Lecturer in Criminology at the School of Applied Sciences.

Jamie Buchan, Principal Investigator
The Principal Investigator is Dr Jamie Buchan from Edinburgh Napier University

In Scotland, local government has historically been more autonomous, relative to central government, than in England and Wales. The 2007-8 financial crisis and post-2010 austerity policies have seriously reduced budgets available for services in local areas. Scotland’s response has been to promote better partnership working between agencies in local areas, and reorient services towards prevention rather than response to adverse outcomes, to maintain the levels of service where possible while saving money.

Partnership and the ‘prevention principle’ were enshrined in the Christie Commission’s Report on the Future Delivery of Public Services, which makes Scotland a particularly fruitful area for the social study of local partnership arrangements.

The research team, which includes Andrew Wooff and Katrina Morrison, both colleagues from SAS, with support from a new Research Assistant, Carmen Nogales, will look at the operation of formal partnership arrangements in Scotland at the level of local authorities. These include Community Planning Partnerships, Community Justice/Reducing Reoffending Partnerships and Health and Social Care Partnerships.

Covid-19 and the associated lockdown have put huge strains on public services at this level, intensifying some social problems (e.g. isolation and domestic abuse) and putting extra strains on local authority funding in other ways. For instance, with very few people hiring venues, revenues fallen.

Not only that, but the actual ‘partnership work’ that goes on in such arrangements depends on clear lines of communication. The research team will look at evidence where local partnerships have risen to the challenges to overcome bureaucratic hurdles and develop innovative approaches to longstanding social problems. For example, street homelessness was dramatically reduced in the summer of 2020 as a result of local authorities and other organisations working together.

The team will also explore whether partnership work in other areas has been compromised or hindered by the pandemic, for example where regular in-person meetings have had to be replaced by virtual meetings.

“We are keen to identify policy lessons for local partnerships in the wider UK and beyond, and our intended outputs are very much geared towards this,” says Dr Buchan.

“The project will begin with an online survey of all Scottish local authorities, to gauge views generally and identify particular areas of concern and interest. This will be used to shape the second stage of the project, which will comprise in-depth interviews with personnel in a few Scottish local authorities. In this way we aim to be both ‘wide and deep’ in our approach.

“The aim is to understand how Covid-19 has impacted on local partnership arrangements, but also to identify examples of good and innovative adaptations to maintain partnership working and community resilience through the pandemic.”

The team’s research questions are:

    • 1. How has Covid-19 affected Scottish local partnership arrangements, in the short and medium term?
    • 2. How has Covid-19 affected efforts to implement the recommendations of the Christie Commission (particularly the prevention principle) in Scottish local government?
    • 3. How have Scottish local partnerships changed their practices to meet the challenge of the pandemic, and how can any progress be built upon?
    • 4. What are the implications of these for existing social inequalities?
    • 5. What are the potential lessons for other countries, particularly in terms of local partnership responses to crises?

For further information on the research programme contact j.buchan@napier.ac.uk

The Survey link is

https://napiersas.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6o3uSSZWFH70O3Q

Royal Society fund two Entrepreneur in Residence appointments

Edinburgh Napier University has announced two Entrepreneur in Residence appointments through The Royal Society funded programme that is aimed at helping UK academic institutions to turn world-leading research and ideas into commercial impact and success.

The newly appointed Entrepreneurs in Residence will spend 20% of their time over a 12 month period with Edinburgh Napier University, sharing their experiences and helping to mentor, inspire and support students and academics with entrepreneurial goals and ideas.

The entrepreneurs appointed at Edinburgh Napier University are Dr Jamie Graves and Robert Goodfellow.

Robert Goodfellow, pictured above, was previously Head of Enterprise & Business Development at Heriot-Watt University. He will be working closely with the School of Applied Sciences to pass on his knowledge and help with entrepreneurial development,

Robert said “The Edinburgh Napier Applied Sciences Commercialisation and Entrepreneurism Training project (NASCENT) will identify & commercialise health & wellbeing IPRs, develop new staff and student entrepreneurs and build a lasting “commercial culture” across the three campuses”.

Dr Jamie Graves, who started his career as a research fellow in Napier’s School of Computing and went on to found and develop multi-award winning cyber security start up ZoneFox, will be bringing his experiences of developing IP to commercial impact to the School of Computing. Jamie said  “The purpose of this EIR project is to aid Edinburgh Napier University in its ambitions to replicate existing spin out and commercialisation success in its Centre of Cyber Systems & Cryptography. The work will  promote and emulate this success across the School of Computing.

“The project will aim to build a sustainable pipeline of entrepreneurs across all academic cohorts via a series of awareness and training events in order to increase commercial activity.

“Edinburgh Napier was the launch pad for me and my future successes so to be coming back as an Entrepreneur in Residence is really exciting and a great honour. I’m looking forward to being able to bring back some of the lessons I learned during my journey but also learning more during this new experience.”

Jamie Graves
The second Entrepreneur in Residence is Jamie Graves, who is working with the School of Computing

Commenting on the appointments, Fiona Mason, Head of Business Engagement and IP Commercialisation, said: “We are thrilled by the Royal Society’s support for the appointment of these two entrepreneur-in-residence posts. They will bring invaluable insight and experience to the University to the benefit of our staff and students. We are honoured to work alongside two such stellar and seasoned entrepreneurs and look forward to develop with them a successful programme for the future”.

Nick Fannin, Head of Enterprise at Napier’s Bright Red Triangle, who have helped support over 400 Napier student start-ups, also shared “We are really excited to be working with Jamie and Robert as Entrepreneurs-in-Residence this year. Their knowledge and experience will not only energise and inspire entrepreneurial activity across the University but also help our spin-outs and start-ups to take their businesses to the next level.”

Investigating New Types of Engagement, Response  And Contact Technology  in Policing 

Caption: The public is increasingly likely to encounter police in ways that are ‘technologically-mediated’.

 A major new research project will examine how police-public engagement is being changed by the use of new technologies. 

Over recent years, the ways in which members of the public can contact the police have undergone significant changes. As a result, the public is increasingly likely to encounter police in ways that are ‘technologically-mediated’  by new communication technologies; such as online reporting of crimes and answering of queries, body worn video cameras, mobile data terminals, and the use of social media accounts.  

Now, Dr Liz Aston, Associate Professor of Criminology at Edinburgh Napier University and Director of the Scottish Institute for Policing Research (SIPR), is to be the Principal Investigator leading an £862,000 Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)-funded programme to explore experiences and understanding of such technologicallymediated ‘ contact.  

Over the next three years, INTERACT – Investigating New Types of Engagement, Response And Contact Technology – will consider the perspectives of both police and publicThe study will consider ways in which the police can and should design their systems to better reflect people’s needs and expectations.  

 We aim to shape policy and practice, with a view to improving service provision,” says Dr Aston. She will be working with Dr Helen Wells from Keele University, Dr Megan O’Neill of Dundee University, and Prof Ben Bradford at University College London (UCL); as well as new Researchers, funded by the ESRC, who will be based at Edinburgh Napier, Keele and UCL We will be working closely with three police forces, and with various communities in each, as well as with national policing organisations.” 

 INTERACT represents a significant opportunity to impact the landscape of policing policy and practice nationally and internationally 

Our findings should directly and positively influence what the police do, and what the public are able to do to access police services,” adds Dr Aston. 

In the UK, the National Police Chiefs’ Council believes the public expects policing to join other services ‘online’, but while attention is being paid to what technology can do, for the police in particular, the public side of this encounter has barely been considered.  

 “Online reporting may appeal to some people, or be particularly useful for some crime types,” the team explains, but we do not know enough about how people experience these types of interactions to be confident that they will be of benefit to everyone, in all circumstances.  

 We also do not know if and how these developments might affect the way people feel about the police and what they do. We know that when people interact with officers they come to conclusions about the trustworthiness and legitimacy of police. But this knowledge is based on research which assumes that most or all contact between the public and police happens face-to-face, as it has done for decades. Given that this situation is changing, it is important that we reconsider our theories of public trust and police legitimacy, and if they are both fit for purpose in the current environment and are future-proof against new developments. 

 Research will also consider what it means for the police to be ‘visible’ and ‘accessible’ in a digital age and assess how the public feel about the different ways the police can be seen and contacted.  

 Using a variety of methods our research will develop understandings of police legitimacy in changing times and allow us to recommend ways for the police to stay legitimate in the eyes of the public in the 21st century. 

 For further information please contact: 

l.aston@napier.ac.uk 

Dr Liz Aston
Dr Liz Aston, Associate Professor, Criminology