Barbara Wilding, Chief Constable of South Wales Police and honorary fellow reveals how the University has helped her achieve her vision for policing…
Iím the type of person who regards maintenance of the status quo as a cop out and my policing career has been built around questioning policies and procedures and challenging established norms which create obstacles or donít appear sensible. I firmly believe that we will only move forward if we are prepared to push against the boundaries that inhibit us.
Throughout my career Iíve been frustrated at how vulnerable crime and disorder data is and how easily it lends itself to inaccurate statements because of the lack of validated research. Currently, cumulative experience tends to define police best practice and is generally not tested scientifically, or integrated with reliable evidence as occurs in for example medical science and practice. This happens because policing is not underpinned by relevant systematic organised research and the lack of academic rigour encourages subjective and qualified statements. The affect is often seen at election times when similar sets of data are presented in a variety of differing ways and one consequence is that fear of crime is unnecessarily increased.
When I became the first woman to command a Welsh police force, I had an opportunity to turn my vision for policing into reality and I was particularly attracted to partners who were like minded and would be prepared to take risks to create radical solutions to problems and make things better for our communities.
Cardiff University has an enviable international reputation for innovation, creativity and academic excellence. Its leadership is not risk averse and alongside the University of Glamorgan we worked together to create the Universities Police Science Institute which is based within Cardiff University and was formally opened by HRH the Prince of Wales last year.
The Universities Police Science Institute is the first of its type in the UK and possibly the world and not only supports operational policing but will also contribute towards improved community safety across South Wales. Through its creation we now have within Cardiff University an institute which will raise evaluation of standards and accelerate expansion of knowledge on which police strategy and practice can be based. It integrates policing and related subjects such as town and country planning, health, social policy, criminal justice and the Business School all in the same institution and will make our service delivery more responsive to new findings.
It is an excellent example of how the academic and public sectors can combine to create something new that provide practical benefits to us both. Most importantly it will contribute to the creation of an environment which is safe and secure and feels safe and secure. Only then will investment in Wales become a reality and the Welsh Assembly Governmentís plans for health, education and business achieve sustainable benefit for everyone who lives, works, visits or invests in Wales.
Iíve waited 40 years to get to a position where I could deliver an academic environment into policing. Cardiff made this happen and Iím deeply grateful for all the reasons Iíve stated.
Barbara Wilding CBE QPM CCMI FRSA