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Updated: Nov 2, 2020

Making an Impact on Policing and Crime: Psychological Research, Policy and Practice

Editors: Clifford Stott, Ben Bradford, Matthew Radburn, and Leanne Savigar-Shaw

Pre-print link here:

I was very happy to be asked to write a chapter for this fascinating edited book of chapters by renowned psychological researchers working in the field of policing and crime. My chapter covers some of the work behind the scenes that has generated a large quantity of published and unpublished research, consultancy work and international enterprise. Research Impact has become a key component of the UK’s Government’s once every approximately seven-year assessments of the quality of the outputs from different universities (Research Excellence Framework: REF). Although their use can and perhaps should be criticised, it helps to determine the relative position of each university in league tables published in the media. More importantly, it determines the amount of funds provided to each university by the Government. Like teams competing in football leagues, it inspires (mainly) friendly between-university rivalry in order to access these precious funds.

I was asked to write the chapter as my research impact was included in the REF2014, and at the time of writing will likely be included in REF2021. It allowed me to demonstrate year-on-year increases in impact driven by the growing highly successful employment of super-recognisers in policing and by businesses. To some who may be less aware, tests have appeared in museums, and even novels have been inspired while around 7,000,000 (the abstract below is out of date already) have taken our fun “Could you be a Super-Recogniser Test” (at least 25 while on Antarctic bases).

My abstract

In the past ten years, UK and international police, security and other businesses have increasingly drawn on the skills of super-recognisers, who possess exceptionally good face recognition ability. New jobs have been created and workplace practices changed. These innovations were initially driven by London’s Metropolitan Police Service, backed by the research evidence of Dr Josh P Davis at the University of Greenwich. This resulted in thousands of identifications of criminal suspects mainly from CCTV images. The establishment of the world’s first full-time Super-Recogniser Unit at New Scotland Yard led to international police, media, and museum interest, and has even inspired authors of fiction. More than 6,000,000 participants worldwide have since taken one of Davis’ face recognition tests, with a substantial proportion contributing to a growing body of research. This work will be assessed by the Research Excellence Framework (2021), which appraises the contributions of UK universities. Research impact is one of its key performance indicators, and the economic benefits from job creation and crime detection, as well as the public engagement, and cultural impact of this body of psychological research, enterprise and consultancy are likely to be recognised as having substantial international impact.

Davis, J. P. (2021). CCTV and the super-recognisers. In C. Stott, B. Bradford, M. Radburn, and L. Savigar-Shaw (Eds.), Making an Impact on Policing and Crime: Psychological Research, Policy and Practice (pp 34-67). London: Routledge. ISBN 9780815353577:

A pre-print of the chapter can be found here

Information about the book

Making an Impact on Policing and Crime: Psychological Research, Policy and Practice applies a range of case studies and examples of psychological research by international, leading researchers to tackle real-world issues within the field of crime and policing.

Making an Impact on Policing and Crime documents the application of cutting-edge research to real-world policing and explains how psychologists’ insights have been adapted and developed to offer effective solutions across the criminal justice system. The experts featured in this collection cover a range of psychological topics surrounding the field, including the prevention and reduction of sexual offending and reoffending, the use of CCTV and ‘super-recognisers’, forensic questioning of vulnerable witnesses, the accuracy of nonverbal and verbal lie detection interview techniques, psychological ‘drivers’ of political violence, theoretical models of police–community relations, and the social and political significance of urban ‘riots’.

This collection is a vital resource for practitioners in policing fields and the court system and professionals working with offenders, as well as students and researchers in related disciplines.


Clifford Stott is currently a Professor of Social Psychology at Keele University and founder and Director of the Keele Policing Academic Collaboration (KPAC). His interdisciplinary research expertise focuses on issues of social identity, procedural justice, human rights and group level dynamics as these relate to crowds, riots, hooliganism and policing.

Ben Bradford is Professor of Global City Policing at University College London (UCL). He is also Director of the Institute for Global City Policing, which is funded by UCL, the Metropolitan Police Service and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime to conduct policing research in London. His research focuses on police–community relations, with a particular emphasis on procedural justice theory and questions of trust, legitimacy, cooperation and compliance.

Matthew Radburn is currently a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at Keele University working on a range of policing-related projects as part of the academic team within the Keele Policing Academic Collaboration (KPAC). This includes the ESRC funded project ‘From coercion to consent: social identity, legitimacy, and a process model of police procedural justice (CONSIL)’.

Leanne Savigar-Shaw is a Lecturer in Policing at Staffordshire University. She is currently involved in ethnographic research concerning police–public interaction, procedural justice and fairness within policing. Her research interests also include road safety, driver education and, in particular, mobile phone use by drivers.

Chapter 1: Preventing and reducing sexual abuse With Belinda Winder, Nicholas Blagden

Chapter 2: CCTV and the super-recognisers With Josh P. Davis

Chapter 3: Forensic questioning With Ching-Yu S. Huang, Samantha J. Andrews, Sarah J. Krähenbühl, Megan Hermolle

Chapter 4: Detecting deception With Aldert Vrij, Ronald Fisher

Chapter 5: Political violence With Neil Ferguson

Chapter 6: Sport and physical activity in prisons With Rosie Meek

Chapter 8: Policing crowds By Clifford Stott

Best wishes



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