Researching policing in a digital and networked age

David S. Wall

Cybercrime Research Unit, Centre for Criminal Justice Studies, School of Law, University of Leeds, UK.

This paper will explore the practical and methodological issues arising from interdisciplinary empirical research into the demands made of policing agencies in the digital and networked age. It will draw upon the findings of two ongoing RCUK funded collaborative research projects into the policing of cybercrimes. While collaborative and interdisciplinary research are ‘flavours of the moment’, they are also ideas that are easily articulated, but extremely difficult to implement and this paper will explore the reasons why this is the case. The paper will briefly look at the progress made so far in the research field before outlining some of the key issues arising. It will then go on to outline the practical issues that relate to collaborative research and it will discuss the methodological issues raised by interdisciplinary research. It will then consider some of the legacy problems that need to be addressed, such as the ‘reassurance gap in policing cybercrime’ between the inflated, even exaggerated, demands for (cyber)security and the inability of police and government to deliver at that desired level. It will also look at how the reassurance gap can be closed via collaborative work and co-production. The latter part of the paper will draw upon early research findings using national and local police operational data to draw some conclusions and offer some take away points.


David S. Wall, PhD is Professor of Criminology in the Centre for Criminal Justice studies, School of Law, University of Leeds, UK where he researches (and teaches) cybercrime, organised crime, policing and intellectual property crime. He has published a wide range of articles and books on these subjects. He also has a sustained track record of interdisciplinary funded research in these areas from the EU FP6, FP7, H2020, ESRC, EPSRC, AHRC & other funders, such as the Home Office and DSTL. David has been a member of various Governmental working groups, such as the Ministerial Working Group on Horizon Planning 2020-25, the Home Office Cybercrime Working Group (2014-2016) looking at issues of policy, costs and harms of crime and technology to society, and the HMIC Digital Crime and Policing working group in 2015. He is an Academician of the Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS), a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA). He re-joined Leeds University in August 2015 from Durham where he was Professor of Criminology (2010-2015) and Head of the School of Applied Social Sciences (2011-2014). Prior to moving to Durham he was Head of the School of Law (2005-2007) and Director of the Centre for Criminal Justice (2000-2005) at the University of Leeds.


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