Evidence-Based Policing Advantages, Disadvantages, Impacts

Evidence-based policing advantages, disadvantages, examples and impact
Evidence-based policing can improve police organizations. What are its advantages, disadvantages and impacts? (Photo: Public Domain)

Evidence is one of the major factors that influence the effectiveness and success of law enforcement. In this regard, evidence-based policing is of interest because it emphasizes the use of evidentiary support for actions and decisions of law enforcers. While it has considerable benefits, evidence-based policing also comes with disadvantages and issues. Law enforcers and law enforcement agencies must consider how the benefits of evidence-based policing could cancel out the disadvantages. Focus must be on how to maximize the benefits in spite of the disadvantages it brings. Agencies must recognize that evidence-based policing improves effectiveness and success of law enforcement. However, it is also essential to understand the possible negative effects, as well as the possible courses of action that can be taken to improve the practice.

This article discusses evidence-based policing, its advantages and disadvantages, and examples of its real-world applications.

Advantages of Evidence-Based Policing

The main focus of evidence-based policing is the use of research-based information in decision-making. Accurate evidence is used as necessary basis for decisions in law enforcement. Evidence-based policing also highlights the importance and benefits of using research-based information. Research-based information has considerable accuracy and reliability in providing details. Such details may be about cases under police investigation, or situations that require organizational improvement within police departments. Such evidence and research empower law enforcers and law enforcement agencies to make better decisions.

A major benefit of evidence-based policing is that it is based on accurate evidence and acceptable research. The information used directly relates to the community or jurisdiction. In this regard, evidence-based policing ensures the suitability of law enforcement decisions and actions to the actual situation of the jurisdiction or community. Also, mistakes are minimized because of the use of evidence. Thus, the advantages of evidence-based policing are as follows:

  1. Accurate information for law enforcement decision-making
  2. Less subjective decisions
  3. Law enforcement activity alignment with community needs
  4. Lower rate of error in law enforcement

Disadvantages of Evidence-Based Policing

Evidence-based policing is disadvantageous because it tends to consume more time on the part of the law enforcers. Research information used for evidence-based policing involves research conducted by law enforcers on the job. On the part of law enforcement agencies, evidence-based policing is disadvantages because it involves higher costs for collecting evidence and conducting research. Thus, evidence-based policing have the following disadvantages:

  1. Time-consuming activity for law enforcers
  2. High costs for the law enforcement agency

Examples of Evidence-Based Policing

One example of evidence-based policing is the use of evidence and research-based information on the lifestyles of drug traffickers. Such information is used to support decisions of law enforcement agencies in developing strategies and tactics to arrest suspects in drug trafficking.

Another example of evidence-based policing is the use of evidence and research-based information on the statistical probability of motor vehicle theft based on the kind of automobile and location of parking. Such information helps law enforcement agencies to efficiently assign law enforcers to certain areas to prevent motor vehicle theft.

In both of these examples, evidence-based policing leads to improved accuracy of decisions and actions of law enforcers and law enforcement agencies.

Final Note

The main focus of evidence-based policing is the use evidence and research-based information to support decision-making in law enforcement. Law enforcers and law-enforcement agencies effectively and efficiently address issues and challenges. Evidence-based policing leads to improvements in the accuracy and suitability of law enforcement decisions.

  • Bueermann, J. (2012). Being Smart on Crime With Evidence-based Policing. National Institute of Justice.
  • Hoggett, J., & Stott, C. (2012). Post G20: The Challenge of Change, Implementing Evidence‐based Public Order Policing. Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling9(2), 174-183.
  • Lum, C. (2013). Is Crime Analysis “Evidence-Based”? Translational Criminology5, 12-14.
  • Mazerolle, L., & Martin, P. (2012). Evidence-based policing and procedural justice. The Journal of California Law Enforcement46(3), 13-17.
  • Schultz, D., Hudak, E., & Alpert, G. (2010). Evidence-Based Decisions on Police Pursuits. FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin.
  • Sherman, L. W. (2013). The rise of evidence-based policing: Targeting, testing, and tracking. Crime and justice42(1), 377-451.

This article may not be reproduced, distributed, or mirrored without written permission from Panmore Institute and its author/s. Copyright by Panmore Institute - All rights reserved. Small parts of this article may be quoted or paraphrased for research purposes, as long as the article is properly cited and referenced together with its URL/link.