Policing beyond the pandemic: the transformation of police work practices in response to the crisis


Reducing crime and protecting the vulnerable are core priorities for the UK police service and policymakers. COVID-19 has put extreme pressure on the police who must maintain safety and order in the context of lockdowns and social distancing; at the same time, they are faced with disrupted internal working conditions. Police are having to innovate on the run, using digital technologies and remake established ways of working to respond to the crisis. The consequences are changes both operationally and organisationally in crime, investigations, engagement with communities and partners.

As the police adapt to new ways of working, there is a pressing need to share innovations and best practices locally and nationally. COVID-19 has acted as a catalyst for innovation and provided a unique opportunity for the police to identify new workplace learnings, e.g., what types of innovation worked well, did not work well and what to carry forward beyond the crisis. From these insights, it is possible to conclude what innovations lead to important outcomes and how these can be sustained over time. We hope that this research will contribute with new knowledge as to how policing can be delivered differently in the future, based on emerging innovative work practices that have been enacted during the pandemic.

Research overview

This research is conducted in collaboration with West Yorkshire Police (WYP), and supported by the N8 Policing Research Partnership (N8PRP) and the College of Policing (CoP) to better understand changing police working practices during the pandemic, innovations and future learnings. The specific aims of this project are to 1) understand how police are adapting to new digital, remote work practices and the effects of this on policing; 2) work with policymakers to produce evidence-based policy guidance for policing during the pandemic and beyond.

We will undertake two key research activities at an individual and strategic level utilising a mixed methods approach. Firstly, a representative quantitative online survey to understand the scale and effect of changing police work practices. The survey will focus on  knowledge sharing, use of digital technology, and how police change and adapt their work practices for COVID-19. Secondly, an online workshop at a strategic level with key policing stakeholders. The purpose is to facilitate knowledge exchange of best practice across police services and develop evidence-based policy moving beyond COVID.


This work was supported with funding from Research England QR-SPF.

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