CRG 07/16–17: Evidence-based policing: A survey of attitudes in two Australian police agencies

Report to the Criminology Research Advisory Council

Evidence-based policing (EBP) is a perspective that advocates the use of scientific processes in police decision-making. Central to EBP is the use of research evidence to direct police decisions. This project aimed to understand the adoption of EBP within Australian police agencies.

To develop an understanding of the uptake of EBP, this research examined the receptiveness towards EBP in the Western Australia Police (WAPol) and the Queensland Police Service (QPS). Both police jurisdictions have prioritized EBP in policy and practice.

A survey was distributed to all 6,632 WAPol officers from constable to commander and to all 322 commissioned officers in the QPS. The WAPol survey had an overall response rate of 18 percent and the survey of QPS officers had an overall response rate of 41 percent.

This report provides results from both the WA police and QPS survey and examines a variety of factors related to the perceived value and usefulness of academic and internal research, and individual and organizational barriers to the use of EBP research. Results also examine whether leadership and EBP workshops influence the adoption of evidence-based practices.

Section 1 of the report outlines the project aims and the methodology of the two surveys. Section 2 sets out the main findings from the WAPol survey. Section 3 sets out the main findings from the QPS survey. Section 4 highlights some implications and conclusions drawn from both surveys.