In England our universities are in the middle of preparing documents on the outputs and impacts of their academic staff under the Research Excellence Framework (REF). The REF is treated very seriously since relative success represents prestige and enhanced funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England.
Until last week I had only a vague idea of the impact of my research over the past 21 years, and even less of its impact since the cut-off point of the current REF - which is seeking evidence of impact since 1st. January 2008.
So I started searching on Google - using the names of reports I had written along with my name to scour the internet. And I uncovered a virtual narcissist’s goldmine of evidence of how important I am for policy making.
Without Google I would never have learned how many times I have been named alongside my work in English and Scottish Parliamentary debate seeking to implement legislation based on my research recommendations. Neither would I have learned, by way of just a few examples, that my research was:
- named as the inspiration for a successful research bid to test my findings on the use of media to reduce racism
- used for policymaking in the fields of crime and prejudice reduction
- recommended as good crime reduction and policing practice (weirdly, without sound evidence that it actually is) by four different national government departments (UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand).
A couple of days of Googling produced surprising evidence (for me at least) that is 'all about me' in terms of the impact of my research on the world.
Before the Internet we were very much more in the dark regarding what we knew about other people and organisations being influenced by our work. The Internet truly is a remarkable invention. Knowing more about your impact and proving it with HTML links is one sure way to bolster your CV. I've included the informaton below on mine today, under the same heading:
Internet Based Evidence of Policy Impact of my Research
I am the originator of the Market Reduction Approach to theft (MRA), and my research in this area has, for more than a decade, influenced government policy advice and policy making in Britain and elsewhere. Several British police forces have sought to reduce theft with the MRA.
In 1999, the MRA was implemented for the first time when Kent Constabulary sought to use it in its Operation Radiumto reduce high levels of burglary and other theft in the Medway Towns of Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham, Rainham and Strood, which were given the collective pseudonym South Town (Home Office 2004). This initiative led to the passing of several local Acts of Parliament throughout England to regulate trade in second hand goods, with an aim to reduce Supply by Theft (Sutton 1995) including the Kent Acts(2001) and the Nottingham City Council Act (2003).
The MRA was mentioned at National Government level, along with my work in Parliamentary debate (Hansard 2000) and the Kent Acts later in Parliamentary Business (Hansard 2004). In 1999, the British Home Office funded the implementation of the MRA in three police forces: Kent, West Mercia and Stockport in Greater Manchester (Home Office 2006), followed by a Government funded evaluation by the University of Kent of the implementation and impact of the MRA in Kent and Greater Manchester (Harris, Hale and Uglow 2003; Hale et al (2004).
Other MRA schemes have been implemented in Britain in Nottinghamshire and Derby City constabularies. In 2011, the MRA was defined as a core policing core practice and as a performance indicator by Nottinghamshire Constabulary and the City’s Crime Reduction Partnership. I continue to publish in the area of tackling stolen goods markets (e.g. Sutton 2010) and advise police at local, national and international levels. I occasionally act as an unpaid ad-hoc informal ‘sceptical friend’ (academic advisor) for various police forces through meetings, email and telephone conversations. In 2011, I addressed a British audience of chief police officers through the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO National Burglary Reduction Working Group) on the subject of the MRA and the importance of veracity to inform policy in policing and crime reduction (7/9/2011).
Although the MRA has been promoted as ‘good practice’ by the British Government and has been used by several police forces, it has not proved possible to evaluate its impact in reducing crime due to a number of factors, not least the extent of confounding variables that impact upon crime rates at both the local and national level. Despite lack of evidence of its effectiveness in reducing crime, the UK Government, US Government, Australian Government and New Zealand Government (somewhat surprisingly) promote it as good ‘effective’ policing and general crime reduction practice:
- UK Government Website promoting my MRA See page 9 USA Government’s Department of Justice COPS programme international problem-oriented Practitioners policing guide for tackling stolen goods marketsto reduce theft
- US Department of justice also addedmy Home Office MRA guide to its website and an influential briefing note.
- My report on tackling stolen goods markets is also recommended reading in US Department of Justice“Mayors’ Guide to effective policing and crime prevention.
- Australian Government’sI nstitute of Criminology
- New Zealand Ministry of Justice and also here.
Wider Influence of my MRA on Criminology
The MRA has been quite widely cited in the literature on crime reduction by criminologists including Marcus Felson and Ronald Clarke (See Wikipedia 2011; 2011a; 2011b for a reasonably comprehensive list). Here are just a few examples of how the MRA has influenced and/or been cited as important research in other areas beyond the theft of high volume consumer goods:
Wildlife crime and endangered species
- Schneider JL. (2008) ‘Reducing the Illicit Trade in Wildlife: The Market Reduction Approach’. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice 24:274–95: And here.
- Trafficking in Ivory: Lemieux, A.M. and Clarke, R.V. (2009) The International Ban on Ivory Sales and its Effects on Elephant Poaching in Africa. British Journal of Criminology. Vol. 49.
Trafficking in people
- Reduce human trafficking: Organisation of Security and Co-operation in Europe Report (e.g. see page 1) Combatting Trafficking in Humans: Organisation of Security and Co-operation in Europe Report (e.g. see page 1)
Art and Cultural artefact crime
- Theft and Trafficking of Art and Cultural Artefacts: Manacorda, S. and Chappell, D. (eds.) (2011) Crime in the Art and Antiques World: Illegal Trafficking in Cultural Property. New York. Springer.
Some Examples of the Impact of My Other Work on Crime Reduction and Bias and Prejudice Reduction Policy Guidance and Policy Making
- Publication of Sutton, M. Perry, B. Parke J. and John-Baptiste, C. (2007) Getting the Message Across: Using media to reduce ‘racial’ prejudice. Department of Communities and Local Government. London. (Peer reviewed national government research report). Led to keynote speaking engagement with National and local government representatives and members of anti-racism organisations: where I was Keynote speaker at a forum held in Scotland and funded by the Glasgow Anti-Racist Alliance (GARA). Subsequently, the Getting the Message Across report also used in a Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights submission to the Council of Europe Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.
- Newcastle City Council relied upon the Getting the Message Across report to shape its policy making .
On 26 August 2011, The Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (formerly known as the Glasgow Anti Racist Alliance) sent a written submission to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee regarding the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland). Bill. The submission informed Parliament of the dangers of implementing uninformed racism reductions measures that are likely to backfire and make the problem worse. The submission cited the myth busting research contained within the ‘Getting the Message Across’ report (Sutton et al 2007). Policy making advice within the ‘Getting the Message Across’ report inspired the Glasgow Anti Racist Alliance (Now Coalition for Racial Equality and Human Rights - CREHR) to successfully apply for funding to test its recommendations. They wrote:
"The project was funded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission and used recommendations from the Communities and Local Government report “Getting the message across: using media to reduce racial prejudice and discrimination” (Sutton et al., 2007) as impetus to undertake a local research project.”
US Government Office of Justice
Click on ‘evidence base’ and ‘additional references’ at the end of the section in the report link given below to see how work I conducted in 1996 is used to construct a current US Office of Justice effective solutions guide . These sources were used in the development of the program profile, which lists: (1) Ekblom, P., Law, H. and Sutton, M. with assistance from Paul Crisp and Richard Wiggins. (1996). Safer Cities and Domestic Burglary. Home Office Research Study 164. London, England: Home Office; and (2) Sutton, M. (1996). Implementing Crime Prevention Schemes in a Multiagency Setting: Aspects of Process in the Safer Cities Programme. London, England: Home Office.
The US Government Office of Justice currently publishes a series of abstracts on my work. E.g.:
Outside of the natural sciences, I was the first to be awarded a PhD at the University of Central Lancashire(UCL), where I am recognised as a notable alumnus due to my MRA concept. UCL use my notable work on the MRA as a prestige indicator in their promotions overseas. E.G: and here .
My Research Reports in the UK National Archive
Several of my policy oriented research reports have been placed in the UK Government’s National Archive Collection. These include:
Hansard (2004) Written Answers. Bound Volume. Parliamentary Business. May 13, 2004. Column 573W—continued: Stolen Goods.
Harris, C. Hale, C and Uglow, S. (2003) Implementing a Market Reduction Approach to Property Crime. In: Tilley, N. and Bullock, K., (eds). Crime Reduction and Problem Oriented Policing. Devon, Willan.
Hale, C. Harris, C. Uglow, S. Gilling. L and Netten, A. (2004). Targeting the markets for stolen goods: two targeted policing initiative projects. Home Office Development and Practice Report 17.
Home Office (2004) Secure Design. Targeting the Markets for Stolen Goods: Two targeted policing initiative projects.
The National Archive: Home Office (2006) Tackling Burglary: Market Reduction Approach. Crime Reduction. The National Archive.
National Deviancy Conference (2011) Sutton, M, Hamilton, P., Long, M. and Hodgson, P. The Problem of Zombie Cops in Voodoo Criminology. National Deviancy Conference York. July/Aug.
Nottingham City Council Act (2003) Sutton, M. (1995) Supply by Theft: does the market for second-hand goods play a role in keeping crime figures high? British Journal of Criminology, Vol. 38, No 3, Summer.
Sutton, M. (2010) Stolen Goods Markets. Problem Oriented Policing Guide No. 57. U.S.A. Department of Justice COPS Programme. (Peer reviewed international policing guide.
Sutton, M. Perry, B. Parke J. and John-Baptiste, C. (2007) Getting the Message Across: Using media to reduce ‘racial’ prejudice. Department of Communities and Local Government. London. (Peer reviewed national government research report). http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/communities/pdf/611667.pdf
The Kent Acts (2001). A Case for National Legislation: Report to the Secretary of State in compliance with section 20 (1) of the Kent County Council Act 2001 and section 20 (1) of the Medway Council Act 2001
Wikipedia (2011) The Market Reduction Approach.
Wikipedia (2011a) Criminology.
Wikipedia (2011b) Mike Sutton (criminologist)