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Title: Learning to field test in policing : using an analysis of completed randomised controlled trials involving the police to develop a grounded theory on the factors contributing to high levels of treatment integrity in Police Field Experiments
Author: Neyroud, Peter William
ISNI:       0000 0004 7224 6077
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2017
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Evidence-based policing (EBP) has emerged as a key strand of police innovation since Sherman’s (1998) Police Foundation lecture. However, for others EBP raises as many questions as answers. One of the most contentious areas is the role advocated for randomised controlled trials in testing practice and developing knowledge to support EBP. RCTs are controversial with some scholars who argue that policing is not comparable to medicine and that RCTs are unable to reflect the complexity of the police role and context. Even those who advocate the use of RCTs recognise that there are significant challenges in achieving the high dosage and high fidelity that a successful experiment requires. This dissertation responds to these challenges by analysing the completed randomised controlled trials in policing and using a case study, Operation Turning Point, to identify the factors that may contribute to the conduct and management of police field trials with high levels of treatment integrity. In the introduction, Chapter 1, the approach is set out, framed around grounded theory, to be developed in four, linked, chapters. Chapter 2 is focused on understanding treatment integrity in RCTs involving the police: A search for police RCTs is produced 122 Police RCTs completed and reported by 2016. The levels of treatment integrity are analysed. 78 of the 122 RCTs exceeded a 60% threshold, with 49 being above 90%. In Chapter 3, a “novice theory” is developed and tested as an explanation for levels of treatment integrity in police randomised controlled trials: Analysis of the 122 RCTs suggests that “novice theory” can provide an explanation for the general patterns of treatment integrity. Further detailed analysis suggested that there are, however, other factors which may be important in determining the treatment integrity. These are developed in Chapter 4, which centres on a case study of Operation Turning Point. Using published case studies and an analysis of juvenile justice RCTs, a potential framework of operational factors is developed that appear to be important in effective conduct and management. The Turning Point case study is used to develop and expand on those operational factors. Finally, taking the two together, the analysis concluded that, beyond the operational factors, there were some more strategic, “protective factors” that were also critical. These are developed in Chapter 5, by using the coding and analysis of interviews with a sample of key staff involved in Turning Point Our analysis suggests that novice theory needs to be understood in the context of both the operational and protective factors that we have identified. Taken together these findings indicate the potential advantages of building institutional frameworks in which the development of practitioners and researchers and the conduct and management of experimental research could be brought closer together. We conclude with ten recommendations designed to improve the treatment integrity of police RCTs.
Supervisor: Sherman, Lawrence Sponsor: Jerry Lee Centre for Experimental Criminology
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Policing ; randomised controlled trials ; treatment integrity