SPA strengthens police engagement with ‘seldom heard’ groups

The Scottish Police Authority (SPA) is working with Police Scotland and the Scottish Institute for Policing Research (SIPR) to fund a range of projects to improve engagement with ‘seldom heard’ communities.

Sep 3, 2021
By Paul Jacques

The term seldom heard refers to communities that are historically under-represented and may be less likely to engage with the police for a variety reasons, including race, religion, sexuality, disability and age, as well as communities isolated through geography or economic disadvantage.

Fifteen applications were received and considered by a panel representing the SIPR, the SPA and Police Scotland. Five have been awarded a share of £62,000 support innovation and learning, maintaining and developing a focus on policing in the public interest.

The SPA said the projects were selected for the “relevance of their focus, innovative approaches and robust methodologies”.

Awards have been granted to:

Dr John Mendel (University of Dundee) who will lead the project ‘Inquiring together: Collaborative Research with BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) communities and serving officers’, which aims to support police officers to engage with refugees, migrants and those from BAME communities in Dundee, Glasgow and Aberdeenshire to support development of policing guidelines;

Dr Andrew Williams (St Andrew’s University) as principal investigator for the research project ‘To be seen and heard: developing photovoice as a method for the police to engage with young people in underserved communities’, which aims to utilise creative methods to engage young people in an area of significant economic disadvantage to understand the places and people that matter to them;

Dr Julie Berg (University of Glasgow) who will head up the project ‘Accounting for Complexities: An Intersectional Approach to Enhancing Police Practitioner Accountability, Legitimacy and Sustainable Reform’, which aims to develop an inter-sectional good practice tool kit by which Police Scotland can better engage with seldom heard communities;

Professor Jim Moir (Abertay University) who will lead the project ‘Hearing seldom heard groups: Policing with empathy in conversation with LGBT and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds’, which will explore the experiences of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, and also to examine the extent to which empathy and understanding of different seldom heard voices is apparent in Police Scotland; and

Dr Nicole Vidal (Queen Margaret University) as principal investigator for ‘Refugee and asylum-seeker experiences, trust and confidence with Police Scotland’, which aims to build an understanding of the quantity and quality of refugees’ social networks and their role in influencing engagement with the police.

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