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WCMT & UQ 2 mins read

A senior Police officer and Churchill Fellow from Victoria says the Australian Government should take immediate responsibility for the development and funding of a national action plan for evidenced-based policing. 


Evidence-based policing (EBP) applies when Police use operational experience to lead innovation and test policing strategies.  This means the best evidence is harnessed to determine what works in community safety.


Churchill Fellow, David Cowan says EBP does not prescribe a singular evaluation method but does attempt to shift police thinking beyond reactive responses. 


For EBP to advance in Australia, it requires a national approach to build supportive institutions incentivising police to undertake evidence-based trials, Mr Cowan wrote in his research article Shifting the focus to evidence of what works in community safety. 


The article is jointly presented by The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust and The University of Queensland, as part of their partnership to develop the flagship publication Policy Futures: A Reform Agenda. This publication features succinct and timely policy articles written by Churchill Fellows and will be released at the Churchill Policy Room event at Australian Parliament House on 27 June.


The Churchill Policy Room is an event is part of the Policy Impact Program, the partnership between the University of Queensland and the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust to showcase the research and recommendations of Churchill Fellows working in policy reform. 


David Cowan was awarded his Churchill Fellowship in 2020. His project investigated the development of evidence-based policing across Police agencies in Ireland, New Zealand, the US and UK. David is a Detective Superintendent in the Victoria Police, overseeing the organised Crime Division. He is President of the Australia and New Zealand Society of Evidence Based Policing ad is an advocate for communicating, using, and generating new evidence of what works in policing. 


Quotes attributable to David Cowan 


“EBP tests long-held assumptions in policing, including what causes crime to increase and whether fundamental policing strategies actually work. 


“Policing is often reactive, requiring police to quickly respond to crime trends and community safety issues. The reality is that much of policing remains untested, and relies on foundational activities of random patrol, rapid response calls for assistance and reactive investigations. 


“The Australian community allocates over $14 billion in funding for policing annually. Governments and communities will increasingly demand greater rigour in showing police effectiveness into the future. 


“The best examples of EBP are police-led trials that provide new knowledge in how police respond to crime. These include strategies that have improved victim responses to family violence and sexual offences, reducing recidivism in young offenders, tackling serious public violence, gang crime and hot spot policing approaches. 


“Policing experts I met with told me the old axiom ‘we’ve always done it this way’ won’t cut it into the future – and it is important to ask how police can prevent crime rather than just respond after it occurs. 

Contact details:

Media contact: Matt Neagle | 0408 207 256 |


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