Police Officer and Dog dots

What is evidence-based policing?

Evidence-based policing uses the best evidence to shape the best practice.

Evidence-based policing is an internationally-recognised method of making decisions around “what works” in policing. It’s about ensuring policing strategy, operations and tactics are based on the most current and best available research.

Evidence-based policing combines existing skills, knowledge and experience of police staff with expert researchers in the social and physical sciences, providing police with evidence to help them make the right choices when on the frontline.

The basic premise of evidence-based policing is to make use of the best available evidence to guide decision-making. Rather than being guided by theory, assumptions, tradition, convention, or subjective impressions, the evidence-based policing approach uses practitioner-experience and tests theory to guide research, analyse data and generate findings to help police make better informed decisions about what works about what works best.

Evidence-based policing allows us to show the evidence behind why, how, where and when police do specific things.

Research can be used to:[1]

  • develop a better understanding of an issue – by describing the nature, extent and possible causes of a problem or looking at how a change was implemented, or
  • assess the effect of a policing intervention – by testing the impact of a new initiative in a specific context or exploring the possible consequences of a change in policing.


[1] The What Works Centre for Crime Reduction http://whatworks.college.police.uk/About/Pages/What-is-EBP.aspx