Stage of Research: Fundamental Research Team Members: 1

Vulnerabilities and Policing Futures

The last decade has seen rapid societal shifts that have required fundamental changes to policing. As many traditional types of crime have continued to decline there have been rapid increases in complex interdependent problems facing communities across the UK. These include modern slavery, child sexual exploitation and County Lines that have added to the longer-standing challenges for policing, such as domestic abuse, homelessness and mental illness. Such harms cut across the competencies of service providers and blight communities, compounding existing inequalities between social groups that have been further amplified by the effects of Covid-19. As a result, the police have often become the service of first resort for a host of social problems that overwhelmingly require management of the risks of harm to vulnerable people.


Bradford is one of the most deprived cities in the UK with many areas socially and economically disadvantaged. In 2019, Bradford District was ranked the fifth most income deprived and sixth most employment deprived local authority in England. Deprivation across the city has created a range of often intersecting vulnerabilities, such as people struggling with substance misuse and mental ill health, homelessness and domestic abuse, all of which increase their likelihood of being in contact with the police.

Through close collaboration with the ESRC Vulnerability and Policing Futures Research Centre – a five year, £9million investment by the Economic and Social Research Council – CAER is working to strengthen existing, and develop new, evidence-led partnerships between police, education, health and other service providers to explore how the most vulnerable CYP in Bradford can best be supported. Acknowledging the key importance that schools play in supporting CYP, CAERs approach focuses on informing and evaluating multi-agency upstream interventions with the aim of protecting CYP from involvement in the criminal justice system and reducing the harms associated with the various vulnerabilities they face.

In 2023 the Vulnerability and Policing Futures theme will initially focus on exploring how existing collaborations between schools, police and health providers can be empowered in scientifically and ethically robust ways to support CYP who experience vulnerability across the region.

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Our team members

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Dr. Daniel Birks

University of Leeds - Associate Professor of Quantitative Policing & Crime Data Analytics