1. Police research

Police research

Police research aims to provide scientific interpretation and substantiation for an evidence-based police practice and to analyze (new) issues for the police (function).

This police research is developed and carried out by the NSCR, with the cooperation of the National Police, the Police Academy, universities from the Netherlands and abroad, universities of applied sciences and other knowledge institutions. We provide research into concrete, fundamental questions in the field of police, similar to Anglo-American police research where evidence-based policing, crime science, and what works research programs have been in development for some time now. It examines how police actions work, in what circumstances those actions work and for whom and by whom it works. The research topics are in line with the Strategic Research Agenda for the Police.

Current scientific insights and theories

In this research advanced scientific methods and the latest, current insights and theories are used. This takes research into police actions to a higher scientific level, resulting in high quality, internationally peer-reviewed publications. A program committee with members of the ministry, the police, the Police Academy and scientists oversees the development, implementation and progress of the program.

Strengthen research into the police (function) at universities (of applied sciences)

Traditionally, crime has been studied from different angles and disciplines. By cooperating with various universities, universities of applied sciences and the Police Academy within this research program, the NSCR also strengthens the research into the police (function) at other knowledge institutions. At the same time, a new generation of highly qualified police researchers is being trained, who will eventually advance the Dutch police research.

The initiators of this research program explicitly invite people from the police practice, the Police Academy and Dutch universities (of applied sciences) to participate in the conduction of this research program. If you would like to cooperate, if you have an idea or valuable input, please send an email to program leader Stijn Ruiter at ruiter@nscr.nl  and / or to the police research coordination via Onderzoekscoordinatie@politie.nl.

This research program was established by a framework agreement between the National Police, the Ministry of Justice and Security and the NSCR. The program started on July 1, 2020 and will run for five years, with the option to extend for another five years.

PhD trajectories within police research

Citizen at the counter

One of the few contact moments between citizens and government is when a citizen reports at the police desk. The problems with which citizens report often lead to the filing of a report and this is also the starting point of criminal law. But, is the citizen’s problem always best off in criminal law? For example, there may actually be a care problem behind it. Or maybe it is better to opt for mediation. In this project we take a closer look at what the problems of citizens are, what expectations citizens report and how the police at the counter can respond to them. What are their options? Do they have the right tools to make a proper diagnosis? We examine to what extent the work of the police can best match the expectations of citizens.

PhD: Roos Jansen
Ronald van Steden and Stijn Ruiter

From declaration to clarification and prosecution

This research is in line with the project Citizen at the counter. A citizen who reports a crime gives “an order to the police”. Whether or not there will subsequently be a criminal case depends on all kinds of factors related to the characteristics of the case. For example, when a bicycle theft is reported, there is usually no investigation and it is unlikely that the case will be clarified. But sometimes there are enough leads and a case fails anyway. In this project we are researching where, when and why things fail. To what extent does this depend on the characteristics of the case itself? Are there differences between base teams, districts and units, and how do they arise? You can think of differences in expertise, capacity or prioritization. We examine which buttons you can turn to organize the flow of cases as well as possible.

PhD: Natascha de Leeuw
Promotors: Wouter Steenbeek, Jasper van der Kemp (VU) and Stijn Ruiter

Violence by and against the police

The police are allowed to use force in certain situations and have different means to do so. Conversely, citizens also use violence against the police. In this research, we analyse situations of violence by and against the police on the basis of camera images, one of the expertise of the NSCR. There is already a lot of research into police and violence, but this research has usually been carried out on the basis of the reports or memories of those involved, and that is difficult to systematize. By analysing footage from CCTV and body cams, we can unravel violence situations from second to second. In this way we can determine to what extent differences in actions determine the outcome. When does a conflict escalate and when does it de-escalate?
Within this project we work closely with NSCR fellow Christophe Vandeviver and PhD student / NSCR guest researcher Isabo Goormans (both University of Ghent). They conduct research into differences in the use of force between police officers and whether so-called network effects occur due to the way in which police officers work together in couples. After all, colleagues can influence each other when using violence as well as being the target of violence.

PhD: Lenneke van Lith
Promotors: Marie Rosenkrantz Lindegaard, Christophe Vandeviver (UGent), Evelien Hoeben and Wouter Steenbeek

Increase in youth organized crime

Some young people become involved in organized crime and are even recruited for it. In this project we investigate different facets of the problem. What are the risk factors for getting involved in organized crime? How do young people who do and do not give in to this differ? How can the police and partners take effective action against this? What are the police doing now and what could be improved? We also examine to what extent social networks and family relationships play a role in joining a criminal organization.

PhD: Ida Adamse
Promotors: Veroni Eichelsheim, Arjan Blokland and Peter van der Laan

Police vehicles on the spot

Police work is partly reactive and partly proactive. In addition to providing emergency assistance quickly following a report in the control room, the police are also present on the street to reduce and prevent problems. International experimental research has shown that with scarce resources it is wise not to drive around randomly, but to concentrate police deployment mainly in places with relatively many problems. To be able to work optimally proactively and reactively, a balance is needed between arrival times for emergency aid and driving around problem areas. The aim of this project is to work with a mathematician from NWO Institute CWI (Center for Mathematics and Computer Science) to find out how the presence on the street can be arranged in such a way that the proactive and reactive task are optimally combined.

PhD: Tim Verlaan
Promotors: Rob van der Mei (CWI/VU) and Stijn Ruiter

Police and procedural justice

Based on theory and empirical research within the criminal justice system, we know that a sanction (what happens) sometimes has less influence on people and whether they comply with the rules than the procedural course (the way in which it happens). The just application of the rules and a good explanation seem more important than the punishment itself. The role of procedural justice has been studied a lot in prisons, but we still know very little about the role of the police in this. How does the interaction between a suspect and the police proceed, for example in the event of an arrest or questioning? How does a suspect feel treated? To what extent does this treatment determine the suspect’s cooperation? And what is the long-term influence on the suspect’s behaviour?

PhD: Emmeke Kooistra
Promotors: Anja Dirkzwager, Amy Nivette (UU/NSCR fellow) and Peter van der Laan

Experts on this theme

Prof. Stijn Ruiter

Senior Researcher

Dr Ronald van Steden

Senior Researcher

Dr Vana Hutter

Senior Researcher

Dr Teun van Ruitenburg

Senior Researcher

Dr Samuel Langton


Ida Adamse MSc

PhD Candidate

Tim Verlaan MSc

PhD Candidate

Lenneke van Lith MSc

PhD Candidate

Natascha de Leeuw MSc

PhD Candidate

Amina op de Weegh MSc

PhD Candidate | Guest Researcher

Isabo Goormans MSc

PhD Candidate | Guest Researcher

Roselle (Roos) Jansen MSc

PhD Candidate

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