Link to Home Office mainpage  
home      subjects      search      what's new

Policing methods and approaches

Our research looks at how the police carry out their work and at different approaches to policing.

Police work consists of a wide range of activities, including fighting crime and maintaining order. Within a typical Basic Command Unit, the police would usually be expected to perform three basic functions:

  • Response – responding to incidents and calls for services from members of the public
  • Investigations – investigating crimes and disorders in order to bring offenders to justice
  • Neighbourhood – identifying, prioritising and solving crime and anti-social behaviour problems with local communities

The police also have other responsibilities including, for example, road policing and public protection. Each area of police work has its own aims and objectives, methods and practices. We have carried out and commissioned research examining:

  • how the police go about these activities
  • how effective the police are
  • ways of improving police practice

There are also a number of different ‘models’ or styles the police can adopt in carrying out their duties. In recent years academics, policy makers and police practitioners have advocated that the police adopt intelligence-led, community-oriented, zero-tolerance or multi-agency partnership approaches. Each model emphasises a different focus for the police and recommends different ways of working. For example, problem-oriented policing suggests the police should identify and tackle problems on the basis of analysis, rather than reacting to individual incidents. Our research has looked at how some of these models work in practice and what impact they have.

Please note that research on operational policing is now carried out by the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA).

Key publications

Latest publications

  • Neighbourhood policing: the impact of piloting and early national implementation, Online Report 01/08, 2008
    Main Report

See also

Related links

For practitioners


© Crown Copyright 2008


Link to welcome
link to search page
link to subscribe page
link to what's new page
link to subjects page
link to publications page
link to about rds page
link to data page
link to contact us page
link to help page