Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Police reform, research and the uses of 'expert knowledge'.

Fyfe, Nicholas R.; Richardson, Neil


Neil Richardson


This paper examines the interplay between research and police reform. Focussing on the creation of Scotland’s national police force in 2013 it examines the role of research as ‘expert knowledge’ in the political and policy debate leading up to the reform and the on-going evaluation of the impacts and implications of the new police force. The paper also situates the relationship between research and reform in the context of the role played by the Scottish Institute for Policing Research, a strategic collaboration between Scotland’s universities, Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority. The analysis is informed at a conceptual level by the work of Boswell and her consideration of the different ways in which bureaucratic organisations make use of expert knowledge. This focuses attention on both instrumental uses (ensuring decisions are based on sound reasoning and empirical understanding) and symbolic uses where knowledge plays a role in enhancing legitimacy or helping substantiate policy preferences in areas of political contestation. These different uses of expert knowledge have important implications for thinking about the role of police-academic partnerships.


FYFE, N.R. and RICHARSON, N. 2018. Police reform, research and the uses of 'expert knowledge'. European journal of policing studies [online], 5(3): police-academic partnerships: working with the police in policing, pages 147-162. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 31, 2018
Online Publication Date Apr 10, 2018
Publication Date Mar 31, 2018
Deposit Date Mar 4, 2022
Publicly Available Date Mar 4, 2022
Journal European journal of policing studies
Publisher Maklu Publishers
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 5
Issue 3
Pages 147-162
Keywords Police reform; Research; Evaluation; Knowledge
Public URL
Publisher URL


You might also like

Downloadable Citations