School of Law Professor to co-direct new research centre to explore how policing can better service the needs of vulnerable groups

The universities of York and Leeds are to jointly lead a £10m research centre dedicated to better understanding how the police and other services can prevent and reduce vulnerabilities.

The Vulnerability and Policing Futures Research Centre is the first of its kind to study how vulnerabilities - such as exploitation by county lines drug networks, online child sexual exploitation, domestic abuse, modern slavery, mental illness and homelessness - affect policing. 

The centre is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and will be an international focal point for research, policy, practice and public debate around these issues. 

The five-year investment will be co-directed from the universities of York and Leeds by Professor Charlie Lloyd and Professor Adam Crawford, supported by deputy directors Dr Kate Brown and Dr Dan Birks. With a team of 25 co-investigators (Co-Is) drawn from the universities of Durham, Lancaster, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Monash (Australia) and Temple (USA), and the Police Foundation, the Centre has also secured the backing of 38 regional, national and international project partners (contributing an additional £1m ‘in kind’ investments). Partners include the National Police Chief’s Council’s National Policing Vulnerability Knowledge and Practice Programme, the College of Policing, four Government department and key civil society organisations such as Turning Point, Centre Point, Crisis and Changing Lives. 

Co-director Adam Crawford, Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice in the University of Leeds’ School of Law said: “We are really excited about working with such a strong team of interdisciplinary scholars and professionals from diverse public and third sector organisations. Together, we will build the knowledge base and co-produce innovative services that address the causes and compounding effects of contemporary vulnerabilities, and harness the distinctive contributions of different service providers to promote prevention and harm reduction through joined-up, problem-based strategies.  
“This demands that we rethink the role and contribution of the police and partners within multi-agency responses to vulnerability, and forge an evidence base that will underpin new policies and practices that provide protection to the most vulnerable in society.” 

For more information, visit the University of Leeds’ news page.