Cognitive impact of circadian misalignment – policing partners invited to participate

Shift working is becoming an increasingly common feature of 21st century employment. Working against the human circadian rhythm (the biological drive to be awake during the day and sleep at night) for extended shift cycles is thought to have effects on the brain, although many of the details remain to be determined.

Demand management report - now available

The report has been produced as a result of visits to 15 police forces from the centre membership.  It studies of demand and capacity management practices across the forces, identifying where innovations or changes have resulted in improved practice, making recommendations for future changes to practice.  The report is produced as a collaboration between academics and practitioners, with an OU academic and a Senior Practitioner Fellow producing the work.

Both full and summary report attached. 

Join the team!

We wish to appoint a Senior Research Fellow/Research Fellow to work as part of our Centre for Policing Research and Learning (CPRL), which conducts research projects in collaboration with policing practitioners across a wide range of disciplines and projects.  As such, this is an exciting opportunity for a researcher with leadership experience and an established track record of research excellence to join an exciting and impactful initiative.  The post-holder will be based in CPRL, which is supported jointly by the Faculty of Business and Law (FBL) and the Faculty of Arts and Social Science

Future events

The are no scheduled future events at present.


Centre for Policing Research and Learning

The Centre for Policing Research and Learning has an ambitious, innovative and wide-ranging programme of activities involving research, education and knowledge exchange.

The Centre exists to create and use knowledge through both research and education to improve policing. In this way, the Centre contributes to the work of police forces and the College of Policing as they adapt to a changing policing landscape, with its greater emphasis on evidence-based practice.

The programme of work includes:

  • Problem-solving research on topics as varied as cybercrime, forensics markets, citizens use of technology, police use of social media, witness identification, gaming tools to improve interviewing of children, ethics and leadership and public value.
  • A wide range of educational courses and qualifications from bite-sized informal learning which is free and available anywhere and anytime, through to part-time PhD study – and lots in between. These can provide police officers and staff with formal qualifications and/or with continuing professional development.
  • An innovative range of knowledge exchange activities help to translate research knowledge into practice on the front-line and across the police organisation, including evidence cafés, enquiry visits, conferences, and the secondment of police officers and staff into ongoing research projects.

Some activities of the Centre are open to all police officers and staff, working in the spirit of The Open University (to be open to people, places, methods and ideas). However, the Centre also works in a highly collaborative way with a partnership of 21 police forces to design and carry out research and to identify and create educational opportunities and resources which will contribute to evidence-based practice and continuing professional development, including educational qualifications in policing and police-relevant capabilities. This group of 21 forces, called the Consortium, is involved in innovations in research and education to improve policing.

The Centre for Policing Research and Learning work closely with the College of Policing to implement the programme of work. The Centre is led from The Open University’s Business School and the work takes place across all faculties and a great variety of disciplines within the University, providing a rich source of expertise for police officers and staff through research, education and knowledge exchange.

The Work of the Centre

Learning and education

The Centre offers a wide range of educational courses and qualifications. Open Educational Resources (OER) are free, bite-sized, informal short courses available on the internet (e.g. on a laptop, tablet or smartphone) which can provide police officers and staff with informal learning and/or with continuing professional development. There are also more formal learning opportunities such as:

  • Studying for policing relevant degrees or other related qualifications which can be studied alongside work commitments.
  • A new postgraduate certificate in evidence based practice, which has been designed in consultation with Consortium police forces specifically for police officers and staff.
  • Opportunities to officers and staff employed by one of the policing partner organisations to undertake a part-time PhD.


The Centre research is based not on an arms-length contractor/supplier model but rather on a genuinely collaborative working relationship, bringing together the key knowledge, skills and experience of academics with those of practitioners in a co-research approach. This collaboration is important as it allows us to both identify and also analyse problems in order to improve policing. Research projects can come from a range of sources; police practitioners may identify real-life, operational or organisational issues to research, or academics may suggest topics which will benefit from practical research. The three key research themes are:

  • Detecting and investigating crime.
  • Technology, data and knowledge management.
  • Leadership, management and organisation.

Knowledge exchange

The Centre is concerned not only with creating new knowledge but also testing and exploring whether and how it works in practice. So the Centre has a range of innovative activities designed to maximise learning between members of the police, between police organisations, and between the police and academics. For example:

  • Evidence cafés are designed as informal opportunities for front-line police to explore how research evidence in particular fields might help their work and what might be some of the barriers or problems in using it in practice.
  • Peer learning visits are designed to enable police to learn from best and promising practices across the private, public and voluntary sectors and crucially to bring that learning home and to adapt it to local circumstances.
  • Regular conferences and workshops, often with visiting international scholars, help keep knowledge up to date.
  • Secondment of police officers and staff through Senior Practitioner Fellowships enables police to work in research teams to both contribute to the research and reinforce its use back in their police force.

About the Consortium

The Open University Policing Consortium is a growing collaboration between 21 police forces and The Open University.

Together, we aim to create research evidence and use it in practice as well as develop education and knowledge exchange activities.

The Consortium partners decide on key research themes to pursue, with police partners identifying operational issues of concern and OU academics designing the research alongside the sponsoring organisation.

Through this process, new research knowledge is created and police capabilities in evidence based policing and research are enhanced, with both contributing to policing improvement.

The Consortium is thus an innovative and effective structure, based not on an arms-length contractor/supplier model but rather on a genuinely collaborative working relationship, bringing together the key knowledge, skills and experience of academics with those of practitioners.

The Consortium objectives are to:

  • Combine the different perspectives and expertise of policing practitioners and academics in creating and using research effectively for policing improvement
  • Create a safe environment for sharing of policing challenges, research and evaluation
  • Expand the opportunity for research material to feed into a philosophy of evidence-led policing
  • Be able to offer police workforces a range of learning and development opportunities including information on research techniques and interpretation of research evidence
  • Find innovation or effective practice which is quickly translatable to operational policing and organization development from a demonstrable base

The Consortium has a focus on strategic issues of interest to policing. The Open University has particular research strengths in:

  • Investigating and detecting crime.
  • Technology, data and knowledge management.
  • Leadership, management and organisation.

There are current research projects on each of these themes. For example, one project is on policing practice, citizen enquiry and solving crime with social media; another is on ethics and policing; a further project is visual identification; and yet another is on rebuilding of organisational trust and reputation after a period of difficulty; others examine the use of social media by criminals, and to build citizen engagement.

In addition to a focus on research, the Consortium also engages partners in a range of educational activity and round-table discussions led by leading academic thinkers.

The Consortium is run by a Steering Group made up of practitioners and academics and is chaired by Dr Steven Chase, Director of People at Thames Valley Police. The Academic Director of the Centre and Consortium is Professor Jean Hartley.

The organisations that are in the Consortium partnership with The Open University are:

  • Avon and Somerset Constabulary
  • Bedfordshire Police
  • British Transport Police
  • Cambridgeshire Constabulary
  • Dorset Police
  • Essex Police
  • Gloucestershire Constabulary
  • Greater Manchester Police
  • Gwent Police
  • Hampshire Constabulary
  • Hertfordshire Constabulary
  • Humberside Police
  • Lancashire Constabulary
  • Merseyside Police
  • National Crime Agency
  • North Yorkshire Police
  • Police Service of Northern Ireland
  • South Yorkshire
  • Thames Valley Police
  • The Metropolitan Police
  • West Midlands Police


For more information, click here to see a copy of our latest annual report

Get Involved

There are many ways to take part in the work of the Centre

Join the consortium

If your police force or policing organisation isn’t currently one of our Consortium partners then please get in touch to hear about the benefits of joining.

Sample our learning opportunities

The Open Educational Resources are open to anyone anywhere and are free to use. Would some of these be useful for your continuing professional development?

Or sign up for an accredited learning programme – take an undergraduate module, take a degree, take the Postgraduate Certificate. Consider a PhD. The world at the OU is your oyster.


The Consortium has a range of research on the go.  If some of our current research projects appeal to your force or institution, if you have another idea you would like the Consortium to consider or if your organisation wants to join the Consortium and get involved in our research please contact us, we’d love to hear from you. We welcome practitioners to ensure that the research remains grounded and focused on tangible results that will make a real difference to policing.

Join in knowledge exchange activities

Many are open to all police forces (e.g. conferences, workshops and webinars) while some are for Consortium police partners only. Please visit our knowledge exchange page to find out more.