The research team at Skills for Justice play an integral part in the services we offer and they’re the core team of experts who have the knowledge on our different sectors. Over the last two years, the team have delivered many research projects. Highly acclaimed and industry valued, the research conducted by the team is always robust and dynamic; but what is the role of the research team and how do they work to deliver their research?
Here is what you need to know, from Sabina Enback, lead researcher at Skills for Justice.
What does the research team at SFJ do?
The team conduct both qualitative and quantitative research employing traditional techniques such as surveys, interviews, focus groups, action research etc. Alongside this, we employ more innovative methods such as world cafe workshops, pyramid evaluations and social value assessments to offer a fresh perspective on information gathering to deliver insights. We specialise in conducting evidence-based evaluations that aim to deliver effective results, inform policy and practice, but most importantly; make a difference where it matters – on the ground.
What type of organisations do you work with?
We work with a range of public and private sector organisations, including fire & community rescue, police force, and the armed forces. At the moment we’re evaluating a training course for police officers in Norfolk and Suffolk and we’re also training staff from 13 police forces in research methods so that they can effectively evaluate internal projects and ensure public money is well spent.
We also look at collaborative working across the different sectors, and were recently commissioned by the Home Office to look further into this. Using our research and analysis, we compiled key learnings and recommendations for new ways of working. You can read more on this report here.
What methodology does the team look to implement when delivering research and evaluations?
All team members are academically trained researchers and can draw from a range of methods to suit the needs of the client. For instance, we can use process or impact evaluations to evidence whether a product, project or service is successful.
We can also conduct a Social Return on Investment analysis. This is carried out if a client would like to account for a much broader concept of value such as social, environmental and economical to evidence impact and maximise the value of their products or services.
We also design targeted surveys to investigate skills gaps and shortages that exist within workforces or sectors to help organisations plan strategically and increase productivity.
How has your research influenced policy/legislation?
Most of the research we conduct is for public sector organisations and therefore tend to have an important impact on policy and public services. For instance, our evaluation of a public services course at Bicton College helped the College to justify their decision to pilot a new military style academy using their current public services curriculum. It also enabled the College to develop a licensing programme to roll out MaPS to other FE Colleges and training providers.
Our research into Emergency Service Collaboration informed government ministers during the important police and fire shared service debate at the House of Commons, which subsequently led to the Home Office recommending emergency services to share control rooms.
Our current work, in partnership with five universities across the UK, around evidence-based policing is delivering pivotal learning across police forces in England and Wales. This involves multidisciplinary and cross-sector projects that ensure rigour by drawing on the strengths of all partners to contribute to areas of national interest. These include topics such as policing and public engagement, mental health and policing, safety, risk and harm reduction in terms of missing persons, child sexual exploitation, cyber crime and domestic abuse.
Our pioneering work is enabling forces to better equip their staff in relation to a range of analytical techniques, as well as promoting a better understanding of the role evidence plays in crime prevention and reduction.
If an organisation is interested in carrying out research or an evaluation project, what are the first steps they need to take?
From setting out the requirements and outcomes, we will then develop a research plan in conjunction with the client; once this has been approved, the research or evaluation work can begin.