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.
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