Community safety, equality and wellbeing

This research strand focuses on improving safety, equality and wellbeing across communities by linking data from law enforcement, justice and health. It examines the challenges to society caused by drug use, alcohol consumption, mental health and violence and seeks to understand how health and justice organisations might work collaboratively to alleviate them.

Lead: Professor Susan McVie, University of Edinburgh

Our research looks at patterns of demand for public services and provides insights on demand failure, increasing efficiency and organisational learning.  A key tenet of our research is the promotion of community safety, equality and wellbeing through a public health approach founded on effective cross-sectoral working partnerships.

Research projects within Community Safety, Equality and Wellbeing include:

  • a study of the potential harm of illegal drug parcels entering Scottish communities through the international postal network;
  • analysis of repeat patterns of violent victimisation in Scotland;
  • examination of the association between violence, deprivation and alcohol in Scottish communities;
  • exploration of the outcomes for problem drug users seeking treatment, comparing those that are and are not referred via justice organisations;
  • unique analysis of the association between health vulnerabilities and non-compliance during the pandemic using linked police data on enforcement. 

We look forward to working with the Scottish Prison Service, to review the profile of the prison populationassessing the health and justice outcomes using linked administrative data. 

There is broad recognition that community safety, equality and wellbeing can only be achieved by partnership working and organisational collaboration across different domains within the public sector. Our research focuses on learning insights from linked health and justice data to better inform a public health approach to reducing harm.

Problems within communities that arise as a result of drug and alcohol misuse, mental health conditions and violence cannot be resolved through policing alone, and Scotland has been at the forefront of identifying and delivering a range of public health approaches to reduce crime and disorder within communities.  Our research seeks to explore factors that impact on community safety and wellbeing and identify ways to improve and influence service planning, delivery and, in the longer term, infrastructure development.  Evidence will be generated that responds to several areas of policy and practice, in particular concern over vulnerable groups, mental health & wellbeing, violence, substance use, poverty and inequality.

Events and Engagement

We work closely with stakeholders in health, crime and justice to raise awareness, identify research priorities and reframe research agendas for administrative data in this area.  Our research advisory groups help to shape the aims, objectives and questions for each project and ensure they best meet the needs of stakeholder groups.

We have hosted and participated in a number of events aimed at promoting our research findings to policymakers and practitioners.  These include:

  • a workshop on ‘Driving forward data informed approaches to policing’ held in partnership with Police Scotland;
  • a seminar on ‘Using criminology, police data and a lot of nouse’ by head of evidence and insight in the Mayor of London’s Office for Policing and Crime, Professor Betsy Stanko;
  • membership of the Independent Advisory Group on Police use of the temporary powers created under the Coronavirus Regulations in Scotland;
  • a public webinar on ‘Police Use of Fixed Penalty Notices under the Coronavirus Regulations in Scotland’ organised by the Scottish Police Authority;
  • and a series of presentations to MSPs and Parliamentary Researchers on how Scotland’s administrative data can be linked and used to create insights to inform crime, justice and equality policy and support effective decision-making as part of Holyrood Evidence Week.
  • an online event on 'Unlocking criminal justice data' - organised by our Professor Susan McVie and Data First’s Academic Lead, Professor Andromachi Tseloni.