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Vulnerability & Policing Futures Research Centre

The Vulnerability & Policing Futures Research Centre aims to reshape how the police and other organisations work together in order to reduce harm among vulnerable people in society.

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and jointly hosted by the University of York and the University of Leeds, the Centre brings together internationally renowned researchers and many local, national, and international partners.

Our research

The causes and characteristics of vulnerability are complex. The remits of the police and partner organisations intersect in complicated and shifting ways when it comes to policing vulnerability.

The Centre’s research aims to understand how vulnerabilities are produced, exacerbated, and addressed by policing. It explores how the police and other services can best work together to prevent and reduce vulnerabilities.

The Centre works on multiple projects split across three main research work strands:

Place-based research

Place is central in understanding the relationships between vulnerability and policing services. This research examines how vulnerability develops in urban areas, initially focussing on Bradford and Leeds.

The Centre is drawing together research and datasets from the public sector – police, health, social services, and education – to understand how different agencies interact. The research teams are studying how organisations respond to vulnerability and identifying possible ways they can reduce levels of harm.

Current projects

• Bradford mapping research: service provision for vulnerable groups in contact with the police
• Connected data analytics
• Q methods study of vulnerability

Problem-oriented research

This programme of research focusses on particular problems that are prevalent in policing vulnerability.

Among other issues, the Centre is looking at exploitation by county lines drug networks, online child sexual victimisation, domestic abuse, modern slavery, and the policing of mental illness and homelessness.

Current projects

• Co-designing community resilience to online child sexual victimisation
• County lines policing and vulnerability
• Mental Health and Routine Police Work
• Policing, vulnerabilities and domestic abuse: victims, perpetrators, interventions

Professor Sandra Walklate, University of Liverpool, is co-leading the Centre’s project on domestic abuse. It explores emerging approaches to policing perpetrators of domestic abuse and delivering safer outcomes for victim-survivors.

Public engagement

This research examines public understanding of policing, the issues people feel are most important, and the appetite for change. The findings will complement research evidence from across the Centre to help inform public debate, policy, and practice.

Current project

• Towards a minimum policing standard

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