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Experts launch new London-focused network to help police tackle crime


Specialists in crime, policing, law, and psychology have launched The London Policing Research Network, the first such network to focus exclusively on London, and which aims to help police services tackle modern crime in the capital.

Brunel University London’s Dr Kristian Gustafson, senior lecturer at the Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, is part of a network of colleagues launched by Professor Julia Davidson, a leading criminologist from the University of East London (UEL), soon after the Home Affairs Committee has published its ‘Policing for the Future’ report looking at the changing demands on policing.

The founding member experts from Brunel, UEL, the University of West London (UWL) and London Metropolitan University will work closely with law enforcement, the criminal justice system and the Government to investigate modern crime.

Some of the network’s specialisms include child sexual abuse and exploitation, domestic abuse, youth and gang crime, cybercrime, forms of trafficking (human and drugs) and cross-border crimes.

Professor Davidson said: “The London Policing Research Network is a unique venture that explores the challenges of tomorrow and the risks of today, taking a broad focus upon research around key strengths in areas of national and international concern, including cybercrime, youth violence, domestic abuse and child sexual exploitation.”

Her current projects include working with the European Commission’s Prevention of and Fight against Crime programme to investigate online child abuse to inform policing practice, and a Europol project with private investors from the USA, looking at young people and financial cybercrime.

Professor Davidson’s expertise coincides with findings from the Policing for the Future report, which found that the police response to online child sexual abuse is nowhere near the scale needed, with forces woefully under-resourced for investigations.

She added, “The Network is well positioned to consider the implications of key research findings in the London context, informing policing practice and policy, and ensuring that police teaching and training is current and informed by the most relevant research.”  

Dr Gustafson is currently working with the Metropolitan Police Service firearms licensing team, and is involved in a project with the National Ballistics Intelligence Service on how to reduce gun smuggling.

Professor John Grieve from London Metropolitan University has also joined the network. Professor Grieve is head of the John Grieve Centre for Policing and is a former Deputy Assistant Commissioner with the Metropolitan Police, where he was head of the Racial and Violent Crimes Task Force and head of counter-terrorism.

Professor Marcia Worrell, a specialist in psychology and crime at UWL and network member, said: “The new education and qualification framework for policing provides a range of exciting opportunities to rethink policing from root to branch.

“Key among our priorities is to restore faith in policing among our communities and to equip future officers with the knowledge and skills to tackle the demands of 21st-century policing.”

More experts are expected to join the network, including those from other countries around the world to bring international insight.

Network members say that the London focus will mean their findings and proposals will more readily apply to other big cities around the world, helping London to be a world-leading city when it comes to understanding and tackling crime.  

As university-based specialists working with sector partners, an additional aim is to ensure university crime and policing degrees are at the cutting edge, ensuring the next generation of professionals in law enforcement and criminal justice are the best possible.

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